It’s been a while since I’ve shared a Toastmaster speech. Last night I gave speech #3 from the Advanced Communicator Series – Storytelling. The project was to tell a story with a moral. The examples they gave were The Tortoise and the Hare and another one about mice and a cat. I struggled to think of what moral I should share, and how to tell an original story. I floundered for about a week, before finally settling on the idea of two squirrels as my characters, and giving them the relatable storyline of eating too much and being lazy and getting fat over the winter.
The night before I was to give the speech, I looked at the book again and realized that the story was supposed to have a twist! A TWIST! As if it wasn’t hard enough to come up with a silly story with a moral, now I had to scramble to think of a twist at the last minute. (I know, I should have read the instructions more thoroughly, but I have a bad habit of reading things real quickly and then being like, yeah, yeah, I got it…)
So, below is what I ended up with… what do you think of the twist?
A Tale of Two Squirrels
Once upon a time, in a forest not far from where we are now, there lived two squirrels. Filbert and Marshall were the best of friends. They had grown up chasing each other up and down the trees, and playing hide and seek behind the fallen logs and rocks of the forest.
Over the years, they continued to keep each other company – spending their summers finding and sharing delicious fresh fruits and leaves and working together to store up food for the winter. One winter, they discovered birdfeeders hanging in a backyard not far away, and every afternoon the two of them would gorge themselves on juicy black sunflower seeds. Then, their bellies full of seeds, they would head back to their nests to take long cozy naps. After several winter months of stuffing themselves with their stored acorns, plus the rich birdseed, and spending the rest of their time asleep in their nests, Filbert and Marshall had grown quite fat!
Spring was just around the corner, and every year, the forest animals would celebrate with a big party. It was Filbert’s plan that this year he would meet a nice female squirrel to settle down with. He was not about to show up at the party looking flabby and out of shape. As he sat in his nest one chilly afternoon, he counted out the weeks left of winter time. “Hmm,” he said, as he consulted his calendar, “only three weeks until Spring… I’d better get to work!”
He thoughtfully planned out his diet and exercise routine; penciling everything onto his calendar so he wouldn’t forget. Once he had finished, he called out to Marshall, who was curled up and napping in his nearby nest. “Marshall – if we start today, we can easily burn off our winter weight by springtime!”
Marshall lifted his head and opened one eye. “Um, no thanks bud. I’m sure the weight will melt right off once the weather warms up and I don’t need the extra insulation.” Then, he covered his face with his tail and went right back to sleep.
The next morning, Filbert ran laps up and down his tree until he was out of breath. Marshall watched him from a neighboring tree, chewing on an ear of corn that he had found in someone’s compost pile. “Dude. This corn is really sweet – I’ll share if you like!” Filbert ignored him and began doing some pull ups on a small branch by his doorway.
That afternoon, when it was time to raid the birdfeeders, Filbert treated himself to a few sunflower seeds, but then he made his way over to the birdbath and took a several big gulps of water. “Hey buddy,” said Marshall through a mouthful of seeds, “There’s plenty of food here for everyone!”
Later, while Marshall fell into his post-meal coma, Filbert practiced yoga in his nest. At the end of the day, he looked at his calendar again, and put some checkmarks next to each of the tasks he had accomplished. He smiled to himself, knowing that he was making progress toward his goal.
This went on for the next three weeks – Marshall continued to live and eat like it was his last day on earth, while Filbert stuck to his plan of daily exercising and being conscious of how much food he ate. Marshall made fun of Filbert for being so worried about his body. “We’re squirrels!” he said, “Our metabolism is so high, we can eat whatever we want!”
Soon springtime arrived, and Filbert was looking better than ever. He proudly inspected his reflection in the pond. His diet and exercise plan had worked! Not only had he lost the weight, but he’d even built up some muscles! He felt great, and was looking forward to flaunting his new body at the party.
The night of the party, Marshall and Filbert inspected each other. “Does my hair look ok?” Marshall fussed, as he tried to pat down his cowlick. Filbert picked a few crumbs out of Marshall’s fur and brushed him off. “You look fine,” he said, “how about me?” “Man, you look great,” said Marshall, “I should have followed your advice and started taking better care of myself weeks ago.”
“Failure to plan is planning to fail,” said Filbert, puffing his chest out proudly.
All of a sudden, a hawk swooped down from above and snatched Filbert away so quickly that Marshall could hardly comprehend what had just happened.
As this is the kind of fate that regularly befalls small forest animals, Marshall mourned the loss of his friend, but went on to the spring forest party without him. There he met a beautiful lady squirrel, and they fell in love and lived happily ever after.
The moral of this story is that you can plan all you want, but you never really know how things are going to turn out in the end.