Every night, right before bed, I ask Dave to tell me a bedtime story.
Tell me a happy story.
He objects, on the basis of not being a trained monkey, and I insist until he gives in.
Tell. Me. A. Story.
It unfolds like this every night because it is our tradition.
He doesn’t just concede, of course– there’s a compromise. He weaves a fabulous story, but it is a darkly twisted bedtime blanket, torn around all edges.
Once upon a time, on the far end of the world, there flourished a monkey village. There was a particular monkey who lived in the village who was very different from all the rest. He didn’t have a tail or a left eye.
The other monkeys made fun of him, threw rocks at his house, and pulled his hair out in clumps. They never invited him to any monkey parties, which made him very lonely indeed. He climbed to the top of the tallest tree, stared downwards into the cliff below, and cried until he could bear it no more. Finally, he threw himself into the abyss.
I’ll interrupt. I try to mend his story, hemming the rough edges with sunshine-colored thread. Thus begins the battle of storytellers.
Luckily for him, the tears he shed over the years had filled the cliff with a river of sorts. Perhaps it wasn’t just his tears– perhaps it was made of the tears of everyone who had ever felt different or alone. Either way, the river carried him away– far away– and landed him in an entirely different village. This land was filled with monkeys, too, except these were special monkeys. None of them had tails or left eyes, either! He had found his home and could now go forth anywhere in the world with new-found confidence.
The tale is ripped into shreds, tied into bows, tangled, knotted, and re-stitched regularly back into its ghoulish form.
The little monkey decided to travel back to the new village with his new monkey friends to seek bloody vengeance. He vowed to come back with their heads, or not at all.
The words keep weaving their lies and possibilities until we, the storytellers, lull ourselves to sleep.
This will continue until all the stories of the world are told, or until any story in the world ends, or until either or both of us fades away like an ink stain on paper.
It’s a matter of tradition.
Do you love bedtime stories as much as I do? What should the little monkey do next?
(Side note, I thought I was writing this for 3 different prompts, and figured I’d apply it to the prompt that it most applied to when I was done writing. It turns out it doesn’t apply to any of them. Poor misfit post. It’s just like a monkey without a tail or left eye.)