“…and so, council, I present you with this intriguing retelling of the cat-eye, solitaire diamond stolen from-”
“Stop!” Lissie shrieked. “Mama…you said this was going to be a good story.”
I matched her squint-eyed look, quirk for quirk. “It is an interesting story, which you would know, once I get to the end.”
Her matter-of-fact tone changed my squint to a glare. “Excuse you, sugarplum, it's what?”
“It’s supposed to be council and members of the jury or people of the court. It’s not just council. I mean, she’s telling the whole court, right? Or at least they can hear her. Don't you watch-”
“Him.” I wrinkled my nose. “Him…not her. No, I don't watch, what has your father been teaching you?”
“It sounds like a her.” Lissie shrugged. “Maybe you should change it.”
“That’s barely the first paragraph and-”
“Okay. I’m waiting.” Lissie rolled over on the bed, propping up her elbows to rest her dimpled chin in chubby fingers. “I’m listing.”
“Listening. There’s an ‘n’ in there. Listing is like, a phone listing.”
“Like one, or is one?”
She dropped her chin and buried her face in the blanket. “Awight, awight, I wistening.”
“Thank you!” I grumped. “You know, you’re the one who told me to read it to you in the first place and yet you haven’t even-”
“Mama?” Glittering eyes darted over to mine. “It’s almost bedtime. Just read a story like Daddy does.”
“Like Daddy-I-how on earth did I end up with you?” I grabbed a pillow from her laundry pile and tossed it upwards. “Don’t do that to your head. You’ll hurt your neck, use the pillow.”
My smart aleck princess did remarkably that. Correction, Lord, where did this child come from? I apologized for the thought almost as soon as it’d finished. The dimples laughing back at me were the same ones I shared.
“How ‘bout I tell you my idea, okay? And then if you so wish it, you’re welcome to work your magic on my horrible story, fair enough?”
“Mmmhhmmpff.” Lissie snuggled up to the pillow with a yawn.
“Well, it’s a story about a guy. He’s a lawyer-a new one-and he’s just taken this strange case.” Lissie opened her mouth and I rushed on. “It’s strange because it’s a huge missing solitaire diamond, that was part of a cat statue from some weird country. I haven’t figured out which one yet, but it was part of the statue and there’s two of them, one for each eye. One was stolen after the owner’s death. The other one turned out to be a clever fake!”
Lissie’s eyes grew round. “That sounds good!”
My happy meter doubled. “I thought so too. Anyway, I was going to turn it into a short story and back track from when he’s giving his final presentation to the court, that's where it starts.”
Lissie frowned. “Why can’t you just tell the story from the beginning?”
“Because then it wouldn’t be a short story any more. It’d be too long.”
“Is long bad?”
“Well…no. Not really, it’s just that, well, it’d be long instead of short.”
“Oh. Okay…you can go again.” The cherub cheeks dimpled once more.
“Thank you, my darling, lovely honeybunch.” I tweaked her toe. “Now let's see...where was I...huh....oh! I got it.”
“You lost it?”
“No, I found it.”
“Right now-Elizabeth Jade! I am trying, keyword, trying, to tell you a bedtime story.”
“You could just read a real story, Mama...I don't mind.”
A squeak escaped my lips before I buried my head in my notebook. In the moment I took to compose myself, I found my attitude shifting from the bare bones of patience to Mama-mode. “Honey, this is a real story...or it will be when I'm finished with it.”
“Are you finished?”
“I-” The hopeful note in her voice was too much to ignore. I smothered my inner critic and pulled out my matching smile. “Yeah. I am. How 'bout Cinderella, that good?”
My little princess clapped her hands together in satisfaction. “I love that one, Mama!”
I closed the notebook and put it on the nightstand. “Me too, Lissie-missy, me, too.”
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