“…And with the Lord Grigory’s army defeated, the land of Netherfield was freed from the curse of fog and forgetfulness. Prince Henry arose, discarding his broken sword, and seeing the maid Kerra there, took her by the hand and lifted her up. The sun was dawning, and Henry and Kerra looked into the reddening sky full of hope. And they lived happily ever after.”
Kevin let the final words settled in for a moment. “All right, Cam, time for bed.”
His son nodded hesitantly. Kevin kissed him on the forehead. “Love you, Cam.” He was about to turn off the light, but he could tell Cam was thinking very hard about something. “What’s the matter?”
“What happens next?”
“That’s the end of the story. They live happily ever after.”
Cam processed this. “But what’s that mean?”
“Well, Henry and Kerra get married. It’s a beautiful wedding, and the whole kingdom is happy for them.”
“And then what?”
Kevin knew he shouldn’t have ended the story so abruptly, but it was way past Cam’s bedtime and a sink of dirty dishes waited in the kitchen. “When the fog went away, all the bandits and evil niggle-wums crawled back into the Lost Forest. Eventually, the Green Men drove them out of the Forest completely. Everyone was safe.”
Cam was looking more and more worried. “And then what?”
Kevin didn’t have time for this. After dishes, he had emails to send, not to mentioned he’d hardly had five minutes of time with Mindy since morning.
“Well…after five years or so, Henry and Kerra had a baby boy. They named him…Yorick, because he was a very funny boy. He told jokes and did tricks and made everyone laugh, especially his parents. So the kingdom was even happier than it was before.”Cam nodded glumly. “And he lived happily ever after?” Cam didn’t know yet he would be getting a sister. Best to start planting seeds now. “Yeah, he did. And he had a sister named Melody, who could sing and dance, and whenever the people were tired of laughing, they listened to Melody sing and dreamed the most wonderful dreams. Yorick loved Melody very much, and they were best friends. Henry and Kerra and Yorick and Melody made the most wonderful family. Henry taught his son how to hunt, and they explored the royal forests together, and at night they watched the stars and Henry taught Yorick about the moon and the planets. During the day, sometimes Melody and Yorick would be gone for hours, playing hide and seek in the secret passages of the castle, and Kerra would pretend to be a giant, looking for them.”
Cam’s face was starting to brighten, and despite the hands on the clock, Kevin was losing himself in the story again. “Then, one day, Yorick led his sister down to the basement. He held her hand because she was young and still scared of the dark. But Yorick wasn’t scared of the dark. He laughed at it. They went down the damp steps, and down some more, and still down, lower than they had ever been before. Melody begged Yorick to lead them back up, but Yorick laughed her fears away. ‘Momma will never find us here,’ he cried. ‘She’ll stomp and huff and grumble all her pretend things, but she will not find us. She will look and look, and then we’ll return, and we’ll play such a joke on her!’ Even in the deep darkness, his eyes twinkled, and when his eyes twinkled, Melody could not help but play along.
“Down stairs and more stairs they went. Water dripped with an eerie, plonk!, plonk!, and the rank smell twisted Melody’s little nose. Their slippered feet sank into muck. They had reached the bottom. ‘Let us go back now,’ Melody said. ‘We have been gone a long time.’
“‘Yes, you are right,’ Yorick said, pretending not to be afraid. ‘We will surprise Momma plenty.’ But when they turned around, the stairs were gone! There was only a wall. They were lost.”
Kevin stopped there, his mind already spinning the next night’s adventure. “And now it’s time for bed, young man.”
“All right, daddy.” He was smiling sleepily. Kevin turned off the lights.
“It’s time for bed, Cam.”
“I was afraid happily ever after was going to be boring.”
“It never is. Good night.”