I Tell You Stories

Submitted for Contest #3 in response to: Write a story about a parent putting their child to bed.... view prompt

I look at you as you fight with your own eyes. You’re trying to stay awake but it is a losing battle. Your head is rested on your hands which are rested on your pillow that is resting on your bed. You look so peaceful, my darling. You want to hear the story I’ve told you hundreds of times before. I’m sure you think I created this story purely to entertain you, but it is so much more. It may not have all the key elements a story usually does but it has purpose. That is all it needs.

I want to protect you at all times. I would sacrifice anything and everything to keep you safe. I want you to know that no matter where you go, no matter what you become, I will always do my best to protect you from harm. Here, in the real world, I can protect you from almost any threat, but there is a place I cannot be where there are many, more complicated threats than in the real world. These are the kinds of dangers that can linger and take hold, shaping the person you become. I wish to protect you from these dangers, but I cannot be inside your mind.

So, I crafted a story. While you were growing inside of your mother, I was creating this story for you. I told it to you the day you were born. I’ve been telling you this story nearly every night for years. Eventually, you will tell me to stop telling you this story. You will tell me that you don’t need help falling asleep anymore and you can do it all on your own. I will spend time preparing the both of us for when that day comes. That night is not tonight, so I tell you a story.

There once was a great hero. She was a fierce warrior that faced challenges head on. She lived in a village of nearly one thousand citizens and was respected by every one of them. One day, the messenger ran into town with word of great beasts heading towards the village. These beasts were vicious and vile creatures that had taken down many other powerful warriors. They went by the names of Doubt, Fear, Doom, Resentment, Grief and Loneliness. Word of the six beasts spread fast and the village was worried the hero would not be able to conquer these beasts. The hero decided to visit the wizards that resided in the village, for they were the two wisest people there. The two wizards had been mentors to the hero for as long as she could remember. They had helped her through trying times and, even though the wizards and the hero sometimes disagreed, the hero would still return to them for guidance. Before her meeting with the wizards, the hero donned the armor she had crafted for herself and continuously made improvements on. The hero arrived at the wizards’ home they shared and asked them if they knew about the great beasts that were moving towards them. The wizards were aware of the beasts and had prepared the correct means to combat them. The first three beasts the hero would face were monsters that charged forward with great power and made themselves known quickly. The first beast would be Doubt. The first wizard, who’s beard flowed down to his knees, explained to the hero that he would cast a spell to enchant her armor with the proper defense to use against Doubt. The beast was rumored to win battles by forcing its opponents to feel uncertain about their attacks. Without their certainty, they would falter and Doubt would gain the upper hand. The enchantment the wizard would give the hero was called Conviction. This would cause the hero to be impervious to Doubt’s will, allowing her to strike with confidence and power. The second beast to attack would likely be Fear. This beast was more powerful than Doubt. It would force its enemies into a panic allowing terror to take over as it consumed them. The wizard had prepared an enchantment to counteract Fear and he called it Courage. In the face of Fear, this enchantment would hold fast and force Fear to turn on itself, causing the hero to be victorious. The third beast to trample its way to the hero would be Doom. It was a horrible creature that was able to cast darkness upon its surroundings, causing them to feel nothing but despair. The enchantment to counteract Doom was strong, infectious and called Hope. When Doom was impending, Hope would shine through the darkness and dissipate its adversary. The first wizard explained that these were his enchantments and the other three to help the hero were crafted by his partner. The second wizard stepped forward and took the hero’s hands in her own. She explained that the final three beasts she would face were much sneakier than Doubt and Fear and Doom. They would not make themselves known as easily and would often sneak up on their prey and infect them with their venom. The first of these assassins would be the one called Loneliness. This beast would use illusions to make it seem as if all of the hero’s supporters had disappeared and abandoned her. The enchantment that would help the hero face Loneliness would be called Love. Love would allow her to see through the fog Loneliness would cast and onto the citizens that cheered her on. The fifth beast to slither toward the hero would be Grief. This beast was comparable to a leach that would suck all life from the hero if she was not careful. When Grief took hold, the hero would be able to rival it with Joy. This enchantment required much thought and activity to be effective against Grief. When used correctly, Grief would be banished in the presence of Joy. The last beast the hero would encounter would be a dangerous opponent. This beast was called Resentment. It would attempt to fill the hero’s mind with hateful grudges that would consume the hero without the last enchantment. This useful tool was called Compassion. Resentment could not cloud the hero’s mind if she was always using Compassion. It would allow grudges to be released and hate to disappear. The hero now had the methods to combat Doubt, Fear, Doom, Loneliness, Grief and Resentment, but these tools came with a promise the hero would have to make. The hero would have to promise to teach others how to use these enchantments when the beasts came for them as well. She could act as a teacher as well as a warrior. The hero agreed to give others the means to protect themselves as they had been given to her. Before the hero set out to battle the great beasts, the wizards passed on more words of wisdom. They told the hero that they would not always be around and that they were likely to soon disappear. The hero knew that even when the wizards were gone, she could think on their time together and it would be as if they were still there. 

When I complete the story, you ask me the question you always ask me. Why don’t you tell me about the battle with the great beasts? I always tell you that the battle is not the important part of the story. The most important part is the enchantments that the hero receives to be able to fight the battles. I then tell you that you will learn to cast these enchantments as time goes on and you become the same great warrior. You ask me if you will ever have to fight the same beasts the warrior did and I tell you that you may, but you will be ready. I think about how there will be a time where I can no longer protect you from harm. Eventually, I will be too old and frail to protect you anymore, but you will have stopped needing my protection long before that. 

I tell you stories, my darling, so you can become the hero. I hope these stories will protect you after you don’t need me to protect you and after I am unable to. I tell you stories so you can look back on them. When you doubt your own strength, when you are afraid of something new, when you feel nothing but impending doom, when you think you are truly alone, when loss causes you to feel tremendous grief, and when you feel strong resentment towards someone, think of my stories. They will remind you of your strong conviction, your unending courage, your never faltering hope, your capacity for love, your ability to find joy and your compassionate heart.

I see your eyes close and watch them stay that way until I’m sure you’re asleep. I tell you I love you and let the covers protect you until morning. 

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