“But we don’t wanna go to sleep, Princess Pam is about to start!”
“Come on daddy, it’s no fair the other kids get to talk about it all day at school and we never even get to watch it not even once!”
Nathan stood in the doorway of the living room, looking at his daughters sitting on the couch, as they swung their feet back and forth.
“Girls, come on, it’s already past your bedtime, and you have school tomorrow. Look, I promise we’ll go get ice cream after I get home after work tomorrow.”
“But we don’t want ice cream, we need to know what happens to Princess Pam’s pet lulupop!”
Nathan crossed his arms, as he asked his older daughter Michelle, “What in the… baby, what is a lulupop?”
Tabitha crossed her arms over her face as she threw her body back on to the brown couch with a loud sigh of exasperation.
“A lulupop is a pappybon from Princess Pam’s planet, everybody knows that, daddy!”, explained Michelle. She looked down as she pointed to the cartoon image of a creature that resembled a furry starfish on her pajama shirt.
“Oh.”, conceded Nathan. “Okay, well you’re going to have to wait to see what happens to Princess Pam’s lulubon–”
“IT’S A LULUPOP DADDY!”
“-sorry, the lulupop mystery will have to wait until tomorrow, honey. Look, how about if you girls get into bed right now, I’ll tell you a bedtime story, like we used to? You girls used to love that.”
Tabitha removed her arms from her face and tapped her cheek with a tiny finger.
“Daddy, we’re big girls now, we don’t listen to bedtime stories. That’s for little babies.”
Nathan fought to hide his smile, as he looked down at his beautiful baby girls.
“You’re right, honey. You’re practically a full grown woman already, but you’re still MY baby girl.”, Nathan said. He uncrossed his arms and leaned over, slowly tip-toeing to the couch.
“But if you don’t get into bed right now, the big daddy monster just… might… EAT YOU!” he growled, with his arms by his chest, his hands curled into makeshift claws.
Both girls screamed and ran down the hallway past Nathan, giggling as they bounded to their room.
As Nathan tucked the girls into their bed, Michelle looked up at him.
“What kind of story are you going to tell us, daddy?”, asked Michelle.
“Is it a fairy tale? I hope it isn’t a fairy tale, those are for babies, remember?”, whined Tabitha.
Nathan chuckled, reaching both arms out to the bed, squeezing the petite feet wiggling under the white blanket. His girls sure had their mother’s attitude and energy.
“Well, I was thinking about that, but… maybe I can tell you an adventure story. Something that is way more fun and exciting than… the lu-lu-pop”, he enunciated slowly, raising his eyebrows as he looked at Tabitha.
Her big grin, showing her tiny teeth and the small gap where her tooth had fallen out just a few days ago, was confirmation enough for him. She unwrapped one hand from her stained yellow teddy bear with it’s missing eye, and stuck her arm out at Nathan, a thumb sticking up from her tiny fist.
Nathan matched her seal of approval with his own thumbs up, winking at his daughter.
“Okay, well… here we go.”
Nathan cleared his throat, leaned forward, and began his story.
“There once was a brave young man, a very handsome man–”
“Was he a prince?”
“No baby, he was just a handsome young man, we’ll call him, Nathaniel. Hold on, don’t spoil the story, just listen to it for a little bit… So there was the handsome young man, laying in his chamber upon his great big bed. It was the softest bed in the whole kingdom.
But then, one morning, a tremendous noise awoke him. It sounded like the howl of a thousand wolves, as if they were all sitting within his chamber!
He opened his eyes, and blindly swung his fists around through the air, searching for the treacherous sound. Suddenly, he found the source of the howling – a tiny black box, glowing like embers with magical symbols on it–”
“What’s an amber daddy?”
“He said ember, stupid. It’s a piece of firewood.”
“Daddy! Michelle called me stupid!”
“Michelle, don’t call your sister stupid. Tabby, yes, an ember is a piece of firewood, it glows when it’s hot.”
“Was the black box hot?”
“No, baby, it– just, hold on a moment, let me continue the story, okay?”
“Thank you baby. So, the handsome man, Nathaniel, he found the magic box glowing in the dark room, with the sound of a thousand wolves howling at him. He picked the box up, and he hit it with his very strong hand, and suddenly the sound stopped! Nathaniel looked around his dark room, and back at his bed. It was the best, most comfortable bed in the whole world, did I say that already? And then he looked across the giant bed, and saw his beautiful wife laying sound asleep in their giant bed. She could sleep through a tornado–”
“No daddy, no tornadoes!”
“Oh, sorry baby. I meant, she could sleep through a whole carriage ride. So, Nathaniel sat back down at the edge of the bed to go back to bed, but then he remembered, he had an adventure he had to get to!
So he stood up, and walked over to the hall of his castle. He saw a door that was cracked open, and slowly crept up to it. As he grabbed the handle, he slowly pushed the door open, peeking in without a sound. He made sure the princesses were sound asleep, surrounded by all the most beautiful dolls and dresses money could buy, and closed the door quietly–”
“You said he wasn’t a prince though!”
“Oh, no, he’s… Nathaniel is the king, Michelle. There isn’t a prince in this story, just a king and his queen and his princesses.”
“Okay, so the king, he walked back down the hall, and then he opened another door. In this room, the light was so bright, the king could barely see! He closed the door behind him, and all was quiet throughout the house. It was a magic door where all the noise inside the room never escaped to wake anyone else up in the castle.
A few minutes later, the king emerged from the room with the bright light, with the smoke from the water dragon he had just defeated billowing out around him. King Nathaniel looked more dashing than ever, as he walked through the house looking for his servants. Unable to find one at that moment, he decided he was hungry, and went to his chicken coop and gathered eggs. Then he walked over to the pig hut, and asked the pigs for some bacon, which they were very kind in providing. Then he walked over to his cow, Bessy–”
Nathan smiled as the girls giggled at the name Bessy.
“Bessy was a big, big blue cow, and she made the best chocolate milk in the whole kingdom. The King had so much food now, and he put it all on the very long table in the enormous dining hall of their big, beautiful castle. After he ate his share, he put the rest of the food in the refrigerator–”
“Did he have a big refrigerator too, daddy?”
“Oh, honey, it was such a big refrigerator, and he had enough food in there to feed the whole kingdom ten times ever! And they had a whole freezer room stuffed to the brim with ice cream and popsicles!”
“Wow!”, exclaimed both girls.
“So, King Nathaniel got his adventure bag ready for the day, and walked out of his castle down the road to the village at the foot of the mountain. When he got there, he found many people walking up and down the street, with carriages everywhere! He continued to walk down the path until he saw an old woman struggling to hang a sign on a hook screwed into the frame of her store.
King Nathaniel was a fine gentlemen indeed, and he ran over to help the old lady hang the sign up. Once it was hung properly, the old woman thanked him. King Nathaniel asked the old woman if she needed any other help around her store. The old woman said yes, she would love the help, as she didn’t have enough servants to help do the work she used to do herself. King Nathaniel asked her what he could do to help, and the old woman told him about how a mean old wizard had come by her store, and had put a bad spell on the outside of her shop overnight.”
“Oh, was it a curse? I bet the mean wizard put a curse on the nice old lady.”, whispered Tabitha.
“Yes, it was a curse, but luckily, the king knew some secret spells of his own that could remove the curse! So he grabbed his adventure bag and went around the back of the building, and saw the giant letters in a magical, foreign language, covering the wall on the back of the nice old woman’s shop. He dug through his bag, and found some magic water, and a magic blanket, and he splashed the magic water all over the spell on the wall. And then he used the magic blanket to wipe all the bad spell off.”
“It came off just like that daddy?”, asked Michelle.
“Just like that, honey!”, exclaimed Nathan, snapping his fingers in the air.
Nathan winced, as his fingers were still sore and quite raw.
“And so, once the bad magic spell was gone, the old woman was very happy, and she promised to tell all the other villagers how kind and helpful King Nathaniel had been for her. To show her gratitude, she went inside her shop and returned with a satchel filled with a jug of milk, and some bread and an apple.”
“Oh, we had an apple for lunch today daddy! It was a great big red one, and it was delicious. I meant to save you a slice, but I got hungry and ate it too…”, Tabitha admitted sheepishly.
Nathan reached over and squeezed her toe gently through the thin cotton, smiling at her.
“It’s okay, my baby. One day there will be so many apples in this house, you’ll feel like a queen yourself.”
“But daddy, we’re your princesses! Mommy is your queen, silly!”, Tabitha laughed.
“You’re right, Tabby. You’re such a smart young girl, I am so proud of you. Now go to sleep like your sister, she’s already snoring.”
“Okay daddy, I’ll try. But Michi snores like a big bear…”, Tabitha whispered with a grin.
“Ha, yeah she does. She gets that from your mommy.”, Nathan whispered with a chuckle as he blew out the old candle sitting on the milk crate beside the bed.