There were once three Pigs who hung out often at an expensive cafe. All three had a pretty functional daily routine and at their meetings always said they were ok with their lives. They were friends that met up on those chill Sundays, weather and business permitting, of course. And even though there were the times when obligations led to postponing their favourite get-together, they made sure not to let a month go by without catching up. Yet something felt amiss...
The First Pig, worked as an administrative assistant to a cured meats company. The salary was not much but occasionaly got some bonuses depending on the hours zie put in. Zie had studied for quite a few years as a developmental veternarian but had done nothing with it. There was just no work for this specialisation. First used to say that zir job wasn't particularily stressful anyway, except for when others got stressed around zim. Funny enough, that happened to be like... every day. Zie would prefer to drink a large, scrumptious, rich, foamy capuccino, while relaxing with zir friends.
The Second Pig, was a freelance accountant. Zie collaborated with a Wolf owning a dogfood chain of stores and business was going well. Zie made sure all loose ends were taken care of for the main operation but also made some rounds to the other stores to make sure there were no discrepancies with regards with the tax and financial authorities. The logistics, materials and aqcuisitions department was handled by the Wolf's Cousin who zie didn't really like -mostly because of the way he was slurping everytime they met over a work matter. Second kept saying that zie would save some money to leave the Wolf and open zir own accounting office but something always came up. Zie kept buying something "necessary", something got damaged , zie loaned money to someone who ended up dissappearing and... as such, the situation remained unchainged and the project was pushed back. When zir friends drank coffee, this Pig prefered to drink some herbal tea, because as zie jokingly liked to mention zie wanted to live a healthier life and live longer than zir two careless friends.
The Third Pig had inherited an appartment and a store that zie was renting out to a Butcher for a bargain price for years now and thus had a modest income to get by. Zie had studied music but never dared to bring that out in the open. This was for various reasons, the main of which was that zie was embarrassed to get up in front of an audience. Of course zie wasn't confident and did not believe in zieself. Third was so shy on this matter that zie would not even play any music in front of zie two close and trusting friends... This was an issue that came up every now and then finding it's way in the conversation but every time ended up in the same place: "it was not the right time". When they were all sitting in the couches around the table of the cafe, Third always wanted to see the menu, only to order, raked with disappointment, a filtered coffee with a dash of liqueur.
Every conversation would begin with the latest wolf jokes. As if in a contest, one was funnier than the other. After they laughed their heads off -to the annoyance of the other patrons- and their little bellies hurt from laugher, with their comfort bevereges cold and stale, they got on with telling what was news since last time. They'd almost never talked about politics, relationships or the world at large. Once in a while they would talk about their livelihood and strangely, while they did not have much of a difference in the luxury they lived their lives in, secretly each Pig would envy the other two. Sometimes, after their hot bevereges, they might get something alcoholic to find the "liquid courage" to talk about their difficulties.
The First Pig, often admitted that zie was not making the kind of money zie wanted. Zie lived in a nice straw house and that was enough, but nonetheless zie knew that zir life was not particularily impressive and zie would end up on the couch watching tv after an exhausting day, even though zie would say that the extra work zie had to do, probably meant that zie was just "expendable personnel".
The Second Pig, knew and did way too much for the Wolf's business, but because of having to sign some papers that dealt with... "shady affairs", zie would not complain to the Wolf or his Cousin. The money was good, so that zir wooden house had all the amenities and even quite a few luxuries. "I should not be complaining". Maybe "things would not add up" when it came to zir dream, but sometime I'm sure I'll make it. Zir other two friends were shaking their heads, agreeing and ordering another round.
The Third Pig, everytime would invite them to zir stone home to roast some corncobs and spend the afternoon with a bit more "pzazz" instead of the -eventually- stale coffee and the 1-2 shots of anything. Still, zir house was further out from the commercial center of the town and the return home, for the other two day-workers, would seem extra long. Therefore both zir friends would say "maybe next time" until the issue was finally laid to rest. Eventually zie too would end up at night in front of the tv, watching thrillers on zir own.
Every single one of the Pigs, held a secret ailing, hidden from zir friends.
The First Pig had a headache, so much that zie thought that "zir head would explode". Zie ignored it or took some relief medicine to make it through the day, without really paying enough attention.
The Second Pig had a stomach ache, every noon that at the headquarters, at lunchtime, when everyone got together for a break. The Wolf would also be at the table and keep making harsh jokes and play with his food. The Pig would say to zieself that it was just lighthearted fun and sould not pay much attention to it, while drinking some anti-acid at the end of the meal along with some soda water, hoping to stave off the pain. Unfortunately, it rarely worked.
The Third Pig had a chest pain and would sometimes have trouble breathing. Though zie visited a number of vets, none would find the cause of the pain. Zie had taken various medicines and was afraid that something would hapen to zim while asleep, so zie would stay up all night and exchausted doze-off in the early morning hours, until the late noon of the next day.
That was also the reason that the Pigs would not meet early in the day, as Third would always be late, even in afternoon meetings, panting and apologising. Second would always be on time, followed by First who would be there just 3 minutes after; like clockwork.
The three friends, though they would not talk in depth about things that really bothered them, deep and meaningful, they really enjoyed each others' company and would not trade it for anything in the world. They had - of course- read about that old, ancient tale, you know, the one with the other three little Piggies, chased by that Big Bad Wolf, but these were relics of the past, as they were now civilised... Still, it somehow "fit" them to hand out. They felt no imminent threats. They had independent and relatively functional lives. They had overcome their childish fears about "leaving the nest" and that they "might end up as bacon should they not find their place in society", and still... something was missing. Often actually, they would joke among themselves about how they'd almost go crazy that time that there was an earthquake in their town and they'd go to those "shrinks" to "mess with their heads"... This joke was reserved only for when they had had enough alcohol.
With the years passing, came the day that new austerity measures were announced by the Primehearder of the country, that they would have to pay a dispropotionate amount as tax in order to keep their houses. Were they not compliant with that, they'd end up losing their nests. And then? What would they do? They had some time since the measures were implemmented, some months, but that would not help much. At first, they panicked and lost 2-3 meetings, trying to see what they could do, individually, and if could explore a way into an excemption category. Then, in their meetings there was no... "gumption". They didn't feel like talking a lot. They's sit around looking at nothing, and would once in a while look at each other and then stare at the floor.
It was on one of those occasions when Third, while sipping zir coffee, said "...guys... you know... last Monday I needed to talk to someone right there and then, but didn't know what I wanted to say. I couldn't even get out of bed the whole weekend and didn't know what was wrong with me. So... I went to a specialist...". The other too, stared with a blank expression and then asked: "What do you mean?"
Zie told them that for some time now zie could not sleep, had no apetite and would not leave the house. Third pushed zieself to come to their meetings -and it was all fine- but when zie went home, things felt much worse. Zie didn't know what to do and it was then when zie saw an article in a magazine mentioning "the need to care for ourselves". It was signed by a known tv persona, Cow, a mental health specialist. Zie found the phone number, booked an appointment and went, even if zie didn't really know what zie wanted to talk about. The only thing that was clear, was that Third did not feel well.
In their meeting, the Pigs really talked -maybe for the first time- about the important things. Angers and complaints, issues that really troubled them, things they knew and understood about eachother. Of course the mood was substantially down from their good-old "circle of fun" and all three left for their homes a bit thoughtful and frowning, yet with a peculiar lightness.
The next week they met, more or less all together at the same time, on time. After making fun of the Third Pig who was actually five minutes early, there was a long, "audible" silence for some time. This silence was broken by Two. Zie too found some specialist to talk too. In Pilates, where zie went to keep fit, among those alternative therapies and "chackras" and yoga and such, zie asked who could zie talk about zir difficulties. Even though the environment seemed more... alternative, it was suggested that zie'd dare first talk about zir issues, define them and then decide how to go about dealing with them. "So", Two said, "I also went to a mental health professional. I cannot hide the fact that I too am troubled, but for some reason I feel really releaved now". The Pigs looked at eachother and Third slightly smirked. First looked at the floor and said "I'm too embarrassed to tell a stranger my personal affairs...". Some silent seconds later, zie said "Everyone's judging us. Everyone claims to be our friend, and everyone is talking behind our backs, just as we do behind theirs. We've become the other's anecdotes! I'm sick of it! What are we really doing other than wasting our time in here?!". It then banged zir cup on the table, and in the worrying eyes of zir flabberghasted friends, got up and left, almost braking in a run. Zir other two friends, looked at each other silently. There was an understanding that -for all three of them- some unknown countdown had begun.
Within that week, they didn't contact each other at all. Their usual meeting day in the week, passed. Two more weeks went by and in the morning of the third, the Third Pig called the other two to meet. Zie suggested to get together over the weekend at zir place. Zie told them that it would be one of the few chances they'd have left to see it, because zie was afraid that zie'd have to sell it and move closer to the center of town in something smaller. There were also some other news to announce. The Second Pig said that zie had recently sold zir car "to raise some money" and had bought a motorcycle, and if First wouldn't mind, zie could come pick zim up and go to Third's home, to avoid the public transport hasstle. First, after a small pause, agreed and thanking both zir buddies, arranged to meet up somewhere central on Saturday morning.
The spirits were fairly uplifted since the day promised sunshine and the trip had the air of an excursion in the countryside for the two Pigs. On the motorcycle, due to the wind, few words could be exchanged and thus this "discomfort" kept them silent for most of the way. The route was pleasant and the both marvelled at the fields and the rolling road. After some time -they wouldn't even notice where time whent- they reached a pretty stone-built house, off the main road, where the instructions led. Third heard the motorcycle and came out to greet them smiling, and lead them to the back garden, overviewing the forrest. The cottage was built on top of a hill and the view was breathtaking. The two visitors thought that it was a real shame that they had not come to visit earlier and felt really stupid for the excuses they made in the past. Third, seeing the looks on their faces, smiled as if zie understood, and offered them a couple of fresh-roasted corn-cobbs and fruit coctails, all set up under the gazzebo at the edge of the garden, with a view to the nearby green. They barely had sat down, when First Pig grabbed the opportunity to apologise for zir behaviour the last time they met. Zie admitted that zie behaved completely awful, stupid and in a really uncalled for manner, so much that zie barely understood what zie did while zie was doing it. The other two looked a zim, looked at each other and said: "it's ok, we got that you weren't in a good place ether..." and went on with a couple of saucy smiles, made a couple of jokes about zir behaviour and altogether started laughing, as if nothing had happened since "the good ol'days". As such when noon and afternoon came with a bit of a chilly wind and the relaxing slouch around the garden, leading them into the house living-room, still with a view, next to a fireplace, roasting chestnuts, listening to mesmerising music.
Somewhere halfway along the tub of chestnuts, Third asked if they liked the music. The other two said in unison that it was amazing and these musicians -tough they've never heard the tunes- were surely great names from abroad, right? They said: "We were meaning to ask, would you tell us where we can see them in concert?!". That was when Third confessed to them that it was zie who played all the instruments in zir composition and recorded it all in zir basement studio. Zie wanted a long time now to unravel zir music and in combination with the psychological journey zie had concluded, it was time for zie to stop all else and start zir life. Zie had plans and inspiration and... zie wanted to share these important things with them. Zie showed them the studio, below the earth, and explained that in order to build and equip it zie sold the store and appartment to the Butcher at a bargain price. Too bad that zie would have to disassemble whatever zie could and transport it, leaving to live zir new life of music. Zie could no longer maintain such a big house on zir own. It was such a big place... But that was of no matter, as zie was tired of fighting with the worry of losing zir material assets and wanted to focus on zir other inheritence: Zir love of music. Zie now believed in zieself and had gotten quite a few good reviews wherever zie presented zir work. Zie even told them that ever zie had gotten back onto playing the wind instruments to make zir music, zie was ridden from "those awful sternum & breathing difficulties". Zir friends had never heard before about zir health issue and showed genuine interrest. Zie quieted them down and after a bit, all three got back to pensive relaxation on the studio's couches.
It was about then, inbetween the silences when they decided to go back up to the livingroom, in front of the fireplace, to sit again, when the Second Pig told them about zieself. Zie told them that zie had also experienced profound unravellings. Zie said that after a serious fight with Wolf's Cousin and several serious threats slung against zim, zie started collecting evidence to protect zieself. Zie secretly spoke to the Untouchable Lions and with some stories that seemed to be part of some police thriller movie, Wolf, his cousin and his nasty partners were punished in an exemplary manner. The money they had stolen, embezzled and blackmailed, when helping to be returned to their owners, ended providing a substantial reward for all the honesty and troubles of poor ol' Second Pig. The reason zie had bought the motorcycle was because zie always dreamt the freedom of the bike and not really for being unable to afford a car. Zie -finally- had enough money to live comfortably and even start zir own office. Zie tried to find the right area to open zir business, how to equip and staff it. All and all the question was where to go from here. Zie told them also that in the week zie had received the threat, zie had such pain in zir stomach that zie had to go to the doctors' and was told that there was a malignant tumor there and needed to be immediately operated upon. So that went on and it was right about then and there that zie made the decision to "turn the wheels" of this catharsis. Zie didn't want, should the result be a negative one, leave a world worse than zie received, "an unfair situation continue to become more unfair and ugly?". In the end -thankfully- the damage was not too bad and in no time after the operation zie was up and about, as healthy as a bear -of course zir friends took the opportunity to make several corss-species jokes at that time. It was the rise of a new life and zie wanted to share zir dreams with zir friends.
It was then, towards the end of the evening, and among the happily exhausted circle when the First Pig told them that zie had lost zir job and had to sell zir house. The occurance was a couple of days before they had met that last time and zie was terrified and embarrassed to tell them. Zir supervisors had said that zie was not a good match for this position and that it would be better if zie found something more fitting and to zir liking so as to be able to concentrate better. They gave zim a good severance package because of the long standing with the company and with a smile and a good reference letter, they let zim go. Zie temporarily stayed at a stable, searching for zir next steps. Zir headache, that was present for most of zir life, had strangely dissappeared, and for that zie felt ambivollent about it. When zie was on the last year of zir training at the university, zie met with many doctors about zir pain but all of them said that it was likely psychosomatic. The specialist zie saw last had seemed -to zim- to be a "butcher" and after that zie had done nothing about it. Then zie gave up and decided to start that job at the cured meats company and... well...
When the last few words were uttered, it was already very late at night and too late for the two Pigs to get back to town. Thus, with a smiling face, Third offered they slept in the two free rooms of the house. In the morning they would have something to eat -whenever they would wake up- and maybe then discuss their respective states a little more, so as to figure out what to do next.
The night went quietly and the three Pigs slept deeply and calmly. In the morning, the Third Pig -formerly mocked by the other two as "sleeper"- woke up early and started to make the morning poridge with fruits. The Second pig woke up from the wonderful smell and went to help prepare the fresh fruit squashes and tidy the mess of the previous night. First Pig woke up last and ran to help clean up and put things in their place. When breakfast was ready, they sat, again, in front of the large window with the view, to relish in the majesty presented for their full senses.
When all was done, First Pig told them that even being homeless lately, zie had re-immersed zieself in zir books and had contacted the veternerian association to assertain what was needed to practice zir profession. Zie was told that zie would have to complete zir "rural practice" so one of the reasons that zie wanted to speak with Third was to ask if zie knew any vacancies in the rural area the house was situated. Third told zim that there is a real need for good doctors in the area and zie would be more than likely to find a good pay occupation as a vet outside the city. Pay was even better than in the city, as more money was coming outwards from the "civilised" areas. People had started to move back to the countryside after so many scandals, corruption and violence, for a better life. "It's too bad I'll have to leave now..." zie said.
"Why leave?" asked the other two? What if we bought a share each, of your house, for the moment and we'll see how that goes?". All three had a pretty good idea how life was on one's own; the difficulties and obligations and what it took to make it work -the reality.
So, they sat and made a plan on how life could be in the future for them. It was a first, where full of energy the Pigs saw potential in their future. It was a first when they actually, truely talked and listened. It was a first when they tasted and smelled the beauty of freedom and also of their re-imagined limits. They were protected, not so much by the way they lived but mostly by the way they thought. Something had moved inside of them and they felt that it was time to move on to the rest of their lives. The world had changed indeed.
All three of them thought that there hadn't been necessary to kill a wolf in order for them to live happily ever after...