“So go on, tell me a story.”
I wish I knew how a happy story began. Instead I start with “it happened with the whispering folds of a satin curtain sliding down a staircase. I hid behind the library door as the rasping breath of the priest added to the dust expiring from the floorboards. Every cell of his body strained towards the silver signet ring that dangled tantalising from the bronze statue. He was consumed by desire, iris’s dilating as he imagined the power that would soon course through his veins…”
“This doesn’t sound promising.”
“Cindy can you stop interrupting me?” My seven year old cousin sighs. Her lips are pressed together in a disapproving smoulder, like a dried apricot.
“Once upon a time,” I try again “there was a girl who lived in a cottage, shrouded by a crab apple tree and a blue summerhouse, and a yellow rose bush that blocked out all light.” The beginning sounded crap but I hoped the faster I spoke, the less chance I would be interrupted by her majesty, the story critic Queen. “Sombre ideas flittering in her mind like dancing piano keys. She dreamed of a castle in the sky made entirely of ice crystals, where a figure in a black suit roamed the corridors carrying nothing but a candle, searching. Searching for someone at least, and until he found her, he would not rest. Now, when the light of dusk faded, the clouds shot fountains of ink like a canon, with lanterns to herald the-”
“You hardly listened.”
“I just want a bedtime story.”
I take a deep breath. The bobbled underside of my slippers make a plastic squelch on the vinyl as I meander my way to the bookshelf, past crushed pizza boxes, phone charger wires and Fanta in sticky glass goblets. I yank a book viciously from the pile, fling it open and prod the black and white illustration with my index finger.
“There, the Blue Bird. It’s a great one.”
“I don’t want a Grimm’s fairytale. How old am I?”
“You tell me.” I try to match her sarcasm, but instead my eyes bulge like a dead fish as I try to maintain the wide eyed look of intimidation.
“Forget it. I’ll read myself.” She peels away the covers and vanishes from the room. I feel oddly cheated. And it is in this state of being pissed off that I drift to sleep curled like a python at the foot of the bed.
Copyright © 2014 by Kate W J White (All Rights Reserved)