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Bedtime Story

By Jes Rausch

There is a wonderful land, very far away, but not so far if you imagine. The air smells like warm sugar and the grass is always as green as the inside of a squashed hornworm. There are no hornworms, of course.

[Stare at the beautiful watercolor renditions of such a magical, fictitious place, created on a computer by an underpaid yet highly talented artist.]

High in the purple mountains live golden griffons and fearsome dragons. They are dangerous and will bite the heads off anyone who finds their lairs.

[Note that the artist really is quite good. A dragon has never looked simultaneously so silly and so intimidating. The mountains are a purple that only hints at purple.]

They are lazy, though, and stay in their lairs, so the people of this wonderful land are safe. The children run barefoot through the grasses and eat sweet berries straight from the bush.

[Children never are so well-behaved and clean while having this much fun, are they? Best turn the page.]

In one of the stables of this kingdom there once lived a young horse named Pennyshoes Quickbolt. Pennyshoes was a pretty horse with a shiny coat and a long, long tail.

[The pretty horse is white, but don’t notice that. Note its huge eyes, suspect it is female.]

Pennyshoes spent her days running through the green, green grass with her mother and brothers and sisters and friends. Pennyshoes was the fastest runner of them all, but even so, she was often sad.

[Try not to yawn at the predictable story setup. Stare at the gorgeous pictures again.]

“Why are you so sad?” her friends would ask. Pennyshoes would sit under her favorite tree and reply, “Because I want to be a unicorn.”

[The art, while lovely, falls apart some; but thought bubbles ruin any decent watercolor.]

“You can’t be a unicorn!” her friends would say. “You’re perfect just the way you are. Come run with us.” And Pennyshoes would run with them up and down the green, green grass.

[This is the boring part of the story. Try to read all of the last sentence before the eager child turns the page.]

But Pennyshoes wanted to be a unicorn too much, more than she wanted to be the best runner, more than she wanted to smell the sun-warmed sugar-scented breeze. So one night Pennyshoes left the stables and ran off into the darkness.

[How a horse can unlock her own stable door is not explained, nor is it really necessary in the grand scheme of things.]

Pennyshoes ran until she came to the foot of the purple mountains. She just knew if she found a unicorn, it would use its magical golden horn to turn her into a unicorn too. After all, she was the fastest horse in the land.

[It is daylight again, but obviously such inconsistencies don’t matter to a child.]

While Pennyshoes waited for a unicorn, a hunter came passing by. He could have mistaken her for a unicorn, or he could have just been very hungry, but he raised his gun and shot Pennyshoes dead where she stood.

[Allow the child a moment to revel in the scene, perhaps even make the gunshot noises. It’s a healthy expression. The watercolors really are incredibly good. Has painted blood ever looked so real?]

The hunter took Pennyshoes home and his wife cooked her for supper in a big metal pot. She was delicious. The End.

[The child may close the book when desired. Encourage the moral of the story. If “be yourself,” is offered, smile. Don’t humiliate the child by correcting the moral to “know your place.” Children are smart, and will be told at an older age. Offer a glass of highly-recommended milk. It’ll give the child nightmares, but that just means he/she is growing up strong. Turn off all the lights.]

About the Author

Jes Rausch lives and writes in Wisconsin, with too many pets and too much beer for company.

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