It started quietly. The writer finished the short essay and sat back, pleased. He sent it off for publication, and the essay was distributed into the world. A few people read it. They showed it to others. Others began reading it. Soon, they noticed changes: They felt younger, more alive. Their warts and blemishes disappeared. Their reproductive organs swelled. Their hearts were filled with song.

They began to tell others about the essay. Soon, the essay was being copied—emailed around the world (with an appropriate copyright fee always, always being sent back to the author), and placed on websites. It was tacked up in offices, schools and churches. It was read from pulpits and from podia, and from the balcony of the Vatican. It was appropriated by a columnist for the Boston Globe.

The essay was set to music; it became an opera, a play, a blockbuster film. It became a well-reviewed ballet, and an avant-garde production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, staged by Robert Wilson, with music by Tom Waits—whose music seemed happy for quite possibly the first time ever. The essay became the shortest piece of writing ever to receive the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. It went on to win the Caldecott Medal, the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Then it swept the Grammies.

Miraculous reports began to trickle in: The essay had closed an unclosable wound. It had brought peace where there had once been strife. It scratched the places that could not be itched. It tamed lions.

Word of the essay spread to other lands. It was translated into many languages. Relief organizations stopped shipping food, and began simply dropping the essay on blighted areas, which miraculously revived. The essay created droughts where there were floods, and floods where there were droughts. It converted water to wine, and vice versa. It partitioned those parts of the world that had hitherto been thought to be unpartitionable. It sowed peace and love. It raised the dead and smote the wicked.

After months of planning, the people of the world, at a given hour on a given day, all stood in the streets and read the essay aloud, in unison, billions of voices mingling into one as the essay soared out into the heavens in a fantastic global murmur. The heavens parted and the sun shone on the entire world at once, in a cataclysmic expression of joy, and all animals were given the power of speech, and all humans were given the ability to fly, and the unicorns returned.

The writer beheld all this and smiled. “This,” he thought to himself, “is a fine beginning.”