Story-a-day #4

Going for sweet and cutesy on this one. 😀  Trying, anyway. Oddly enough, today’s word prompts were given to me by a male co-worker. I went longer than 750 words, but not too terribly long. Enjoy!

 

May 4, 2013

Prompts: leprechaun, unicorn, pony

Word Count: 1,195

Not Imaginary

There had never been time for frivolity in Amelia’s childhood. Her parents called her a princess. They treated her like a princess. Her bedroom looked like it had been decorated by a fairy-godmother. But the problem with being treated like a princess was that her parents expected nothing less than perfect, ladylike behavior. Early on, Amelia experienced the disadvantages of such an upbringing: lack of close friends, nervous habits, and the ever-present compulsion to straighten throw pillows. Even her play clothes as a child were wrong—a dress and a set of black shoes with a strap across the ankle. Neither of those was ever smudged.

She noticed the tiny stain on her daughter’s pre-school teacher’s sweater. The woman was what Amelia thought of as a free-spirit. Her parents would’ve had more descriptive and less kind words for the teacher, but she was a nice woman, and Amelia’s four year-old daughter, Katherine, loved her. Currently, Amelia listened to the teacher gush about Katherine’s latest drawings of mythological creatures during art time, and how Amelia and her husband had a ‘refreshingly non-conventional’ way of raising their daughter to ‘believe in the beyond’. All of it made Amelia very nervous.

She got through the rest of the conversation without having to say much of anything, said goodbye, and ushered her daughter to the car. Katherine started talking the moment they were on the way home, chattering about her day, her friends in pre-school, and how she drew the leprechaun in a purple because it’s his favorite color.

“Sweetie, you know leprechauns aren’t real,” said Amelia, glancing worryingly at her daughter in the rearview mirror.

“Sam is,” said Katherine. “He lives in the painting above my desk. He comes out at night to tuck me in and tell me a story about Rainbow Land where he lives with his family.”

For two weeks, Katherine had gone on about Sam the Leprechaun. At first, Amelia ignored it, figuring it to be harmless. The longer it went on, though, the more disturbed she became. It might not have been so terrible except that her husband wasn’t there to reinforce Amelia’s ruling on the matter. A last-minute business trip had pulled him away twelve days earlier, but tonight he would be home. She felt sure her husband would help with the issue.

Not long after dinner, during which Katherine demanded a plate be set out for Sam, Jason walked through the door. He greeted his wife with a hug and kiss, and swept their daughter up in his arms.

“How’s my Kitty-Kat?” said Jason.

“Hi daddy! We missed you,” said Katherine.

“Oh, you did? Well, I missed my two favorite girls.”

“Daddy, tuck me in. I have to be ready for my story,” Katherine pleaded.

“Are we having story night?”

“Not you, silly. Me. Sam is going to tell me a story. Sam the leprechaun. He said tonight he’s going to bring his friend along. She’s a unicorn. I think she’s like a pony, but taller. And white. And has a long pointy thing right here—” Katherine poked her father on the forehead.

It sounds like you have a busy night ahead,” said Jason. “Let’s get you to bed.” He carried her across the kitchen, and held her out. “Say goodnight to mommy.”

“Goodnight mommy.”

Amelia leaned over for her kiss. “Goodnight sweetie.”

She watched Jason carry their daughter from the kitchen. Amelia finished the dishes, tidied up the kitchen, and headed upstairs to get ready for bed. Jason was in the shower, so she changed into her nightgown and performed her nightly beauty routine.

Jason poked his head out of the shower curtain. “Sam the leprechaun?”

Amelia shook her head as she finished rinsing the toothpaste from her mouth. “She’s been going on and on about him for days. It’s not natural. I never should’ve decorated her room like a scene from a fairytale movie.”

“She’s fine. It’s a phase, that’s all. Didn’t you ever have imaginary friends?” He caught the look on her face. “Never mind.”

With a huff, Amelia retreated to the bedroom. No, she never had imaginary friends. She barely had real friends. Meeting Jason had done wonders for her self esteem, not to mention her ability to relax. Having Katherine forced her to loosen up even more, though at times, Amelia wondered if she were a terrible mother. She hated being stifling, but sometimes it was so hard to be the opposite.

By the time Jason got into bed, Amelia’s light was already off, and she lay on her side facing away from him. He scooted over until he lay in the middle, and she moved too, so her back pressed against his side, letting him know that she wasn’t really mad.

He talked about his trip for a little bit, until they heard Katherine in the next room. Her high-pitched squeal came right through the wall, as did her excited voice. She rambled on so fast they couldn’t make out the words. Seconds later, another voice floated through the air—still high, but not quite feminine. Amelia sat up.

“She’s doing voices now! Voices! This is not normal. Our daughter is crazy,” she moaned.

Jason chuckled. “She’s not crazy; she’s four.” He patted her leg. “I’ll go check on her.”

Amelia flopped on her back, worry renewed about her daughter’s mental state. Light from the hallway lit up their bedroom door. She heard Jason open Katherine’s door, an even louder shriek of excitement, and the unmistakable neighing of a horse.

The next sound was Katherine’s door shutting. Jason never appeared, so Amelia got out of bed, and went into the hall. Her husband stood outside their daughter’s bedroom, looking pale and stunned.

She reached for the handle.

He grasped her wrist. “Don’t.”

“What? Let go.”

“I really wouldn’t,” he said, eyes wide.

She pushed his hand away, and opened the door. Katherine sat in the middle of her bed next to a tiny man. He was dressed in a way that would make one immediately think Leprechaun, only instead of green, his clothes were in various shades of purple. Amelia stared at them staring at her. A flash of light drew her attention, and she slowly turned her head. A unicorn stood in front of the closet.

Amelia slowly turned around to look at her husband. Years of strict upbringing and discouragement of this very kind of behavior kicked in. Sort of. The tiniest part of her that always wanted to participate in this kind of behavior flared up, and for the first time in four years, she knew this was the moment she could give Katherine the best childhood ever.

She walked out of the room, but before she closed the door, she said firmly, “You can stay up for thirty minutes, Katherine. After that, your friends have to leave because you have pre-school in the morning.”

She pulled Jason back to their bed. They settled down, both staring at the ceiling.

“What the …” he finally said.

“Oh, goodness, do not tell the neighbors we have a leprechaun in our house. We’ll never hear the end of it,” said Amelia. “Goodnight dear.”

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