Bedtime for Storytellers

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.

monkey2Once 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.

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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.)

84 thoughts on “Bedtime for Storytellers

  1. Absolutely beautiful, magical and profound. I love the Bardic Battle which runs through the whole thing; I also love the tapping into ancient tradition. My feeling is that the little monkey should take over the narrative until such time as another strand in the plait of storytelling appears! Alienora

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    1. That would have been a great name for the post- “Bardic Battles” – I like it. It’s actually a great name for writing duet challenges, too… hmmm. (idea overload!) I love the idea of the little monkey having a voice in his odyssey. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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  2. I read to my partner, sometimes. She’ll pick a book, then I’ll pick one. Seems to work quite well. Usually I’m too tired in bed to be quick enough to make up stories haha!
    Also, I hope that monkey got his revenge.

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  3. The monkey comes back with the carved heads of everyone after realising that they didn’t mean any of it and they all sat down for a nice pot of tea (which the monkey then poisoned as he could never ever forgive them) and then he chopped their heads off and got a two for one deal at Heads R Us

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  4. Woke up this morning to find this post…so I guess you can call it my “morning time story”, what a great way to start the day..:D btw, I would want the one-eyed monkey, after seeing his old village, he would actual feel sorry for them for not being able to realize that true beauty comes from within!

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    1. It all makes sense! He should start a school, teaching tolerance and compassion… and the school would be called MorningTime, in honor of your comment… 🙂

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  5. Nice story, I love bedtime stories. I think the monkey should not pay attention , then others will get bored and stop teasing him. Well, I hope.

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  6. This monkey needs a name. And a catch-phrase. It should be annoying, so that kids will love it and will want we parents to buy kids meals that feature little toys of this monkey.

    Oh, this is a story for us grownups?

    Forget the catch-phrase. The name’s optional, but he should have a tense attraction to someone in the new monkey troup. We could call her … Daile.

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  7. Such an endearing post and story. I so love this description, “… fades away like an ink stain on paper.” There are other but this is awesome.

    I usually read before sleeping if I’m not too tired because I haven’t anyone to share stories with that it’s all good.

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  8. such a nice story. i love to read before bed, but haven’t been able to get that system working with the nighttime rituals of the kids and mr p.

    i agree with grovewithin, the monkey would probably return to his old village, full of confidence, and realize all the other monkeys are fighting their own battles with insecurity and doubt. the tail-free, right eyed monkeys decide to open a studio and offer art therapy and yoga to the village.

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  9. My husband reads every night. Sadly he rarely gets past one page before he falls asleep, only to try again the next night. He never gives up, but the book lasts for months! He asks me to read my blog to him each day but some days they are not the most kind about him.
    My youngest is dyslexic and so even though she is eleven we still read to her, as reading herself is a chore. I am hoping that this will help her love books despite her reading difficulties.

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    1. 😀 I can’t imagine reading a book that slowly… I’d be dying to know what happens. 🙂

      Have you tried color overlays with your daughter? It helped my brother a lot, to at least follow along if not read… and now he’s a prolific reader, though he still requires the overlays to read at any decent speed.

      I think it’s wonderful that your family reads to each other. Absolutely lovely!

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      1. Thanks I will definitely try the overlays. Any help appreciated. When she was younger she devoured books and delighted in us buying her new ones, (as opposed to her reading her siblings old ones). However now that she is eleven and has a reading age of about seven, she is not happy. A seven year olds story just doesn’t do it for her, so it is up to us to read to her… every night,,,,,, it can be, sometimes, a bit of a chore!

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  10. Years ago my then girlfriend insisted on a bedtime story. It turned into a real sword and sorcery epic. Which was odd, since it’s not a genre I admire. But as you know, Rara, i do like telling stories.

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    1. Yes, you are a storyteller at heart– which is why you can turn out a tale on the fly, just like Dave. 😀 I’d like to read that epic sometime. 🙂

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  11. bedtime story traditions must live on and on…and little monkey somewhere must dance, of course! Jungle Book, King Louie style. oh, okay, so Louie was an orangutan… 😆

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    1. Maybe little monkey is an orangutan, too, since he didn’t have a tail and all. That would surely explain why he didn’t fit in with the other monkeys! 😀 But yes, there must always be dancing! I hear the monkey song in my head now… 🙂

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  12. Unfortunately the poor monkey was the victim of radiation from an accident at a nuclear reactor as a baby. The village far away suffered the same fate because they were eating food from genetically modified due to radiation 😦

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    1. Haha! It all makes sense now! I can see that they’re going to have to gather their monkey army and do something about that reactor, and all that mutant food…

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  13. I think this is a great idea! My mother used to tell me bed time stories when I was little. As I grew up she began to get me involved in the stories and it was always so excited to see what we would think up next.

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  14. oh dear do I love this post. it reminds me of my daughter who, at 3.5, demands stories (one more!!) every night. oftentimes I want to go dark, but she’s 3.5. haha. i’m going to really have to work at not bringing the monkey story tonight. LOVE your side note.

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    1. 😀 Thank you, Christina! That was me when I was little– one more story, one more, 🙂 My parents used to have me tell my own, eventually, until I knocked myself out. I can’t imagine the horrible stories they had to sit and listen to as I worked out my storytelling abilities, haha! 🙂

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  15. I have to read to be able to even contemplate falling asleep. I could never rely on hubby to tell me a story – he drives me nuts when he tries to tell me a story during the day. Plus he falls asleep long before I ever think about going to bed.

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    1. Haha, I understand that. Some people don’t have the storytelling knack… my mom is like that. She can read with the best of ’em, but can’t tell a story without going in loops and confusing everyone. 🙂

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  16. Maybe you guys can record these bedtime stories for my sons. Take out the violent parts where the monkey returns to his old village.
    I was thinking that you guys don’t have children, but you make art every night. {{{{Hugs}}} Kozo

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    1. People always ask how old are kids are because of all our weird habits. I read a thought in a romance novel once that stuck with me… it went something like, “I think I understand kids so well because 2.5 feet of me is still 7 years old.” Makes sense to me! 🙂 *hugs*

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  17. Going to visit a friend at university I was told I wasn’t allowed to sleep yet because I hadn’t told her a fairy tale. When we were younger and had sleepovers I always used to tell her fairy tales, basing the characters on whatever gossip we had been discussing. There’s something sweet about telling simple stories, even misfit monkey post stories.

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    1. Storytelling, and storylistening, are two of my favorite simple joys. It’s one of those beautiful moments with a lot of depth. 🙂 And, by the way, your friendship sounds like an awesome one. 😀

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    1. 😀 One of my favorite parts of these stories is how they make our way into our memories, and how our life makes its way into them. Have fun with it! 🙂

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      1. I asked my husband to tell me a bedtime story last night! First time ever. He was totally blown away. So we did a little story sharing at first, then he took over and told the whole story. This morning he came in while I was working, and said he was going to tell me a story tonight, too. I can’t wait! 🙂 What an awesome idea! 🙂

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  18. I am afraid of Dave’s mind. (Not really.) That story is actually sort of wonderful, though. Now it is time for me to try and think up an ending. It’s going to be a happy ending, of course 😉

    I love bedtime stories, but the stories stopped being told verbally to me after I got into my tweens. But I still turn to books and those can lull me to sleep fairly well. Okay, not exactly. Sometimes I stay up way to late to finish a book, but that is only when I read a book with non-stop action or with a super-duper addicting story.

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  19. Bedtime stories 😦 No one tells me one anymore 😦 My last bedtime story must have ended when I was 2 or 3 😦
    But I love your tradition. I would love to have it too but sadly neither I nor my husband is a story teller 😦
    But I am a good singer and I sing before going to sleep quite often 🙂

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