As I lie in bed, surrounded by darkness, I clamp his hand, I can’t see him, but I can feel his padded hands, his soft silky fur, his hard button eyes. I never feel safe without Paddy, he is my dark defender.
Everynight, we lie together in my bed, with the duvet pulled up to our chins. It’s completely dark, except for the crack from the door being pushed to instead of closed, and my array of stars on the ceiling. They’ve started to peel, but that’s because I’ve had them since I was two, and I’m seven now.
I used to imagine that we were up there, in space, among the stars, me and Paddy, in our rocket, which was red, and stripey. We met aliens, and fought the bad ones. We always won because Paddy turned into a big bear, like the one from ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.’ I had a sword, with jewels up one side. That was red as well; everything was red back then. Now I like blue and purple.
Now, I lie in bed, still with Paddy, because I’ll never be able to sleep without him, even when I’m all grown up. We still go on adventures, but now they’re even better and sometimes scary or dangerous.
I love to visit the BFG. I can see all his dreams, and choose the best ones for me and Paddy. My favourite ones are the ones where I have a mum, because mine died ages ago. I don’t remember her, but Paddy does, because she gave me Paddy, and he whispers things about her to me. He says she was kind and pretty and funny. She had a lovely smile, and a laugh that was contagious. I must have loved her when I knew her, but I don’t know her now. I don’t even remember her now. And how can you miss someone you don’t know?
I asked dad that, but he just smiled, sadly. He remembers her, and he tells me a lot of stories about her. He’s created a picture of her inside my head- him and Paddy both. They love her. I think I do too.
On different nights, sometimes Paddy and I go to the jungle and meet with Mowgli and Baloo. I love all the animals, except Sher Khan: he can be scary. Paddy enjoys going here, because he is really good friends with Baloo. They eat a lot of honey together!
On some nights, we don’t go anywhere. We listen to the unseen terrors, right here in my dark, dark bedroom. They loom up against the wall, turning into monsters, whole hordes of them, creeping towards me, slowly, so slowly I almost don’t see, but I know they’re coming.
They’re always coming.
Paddy knows too.
Dad doesn’t know. If he did, he’d be here, with me, helping defend my bed. But he’s not, he never is.
He’s always downstairs, arguing with her.
She wants me to call her mum, but I don’t want to. She’s not my mum, never will be. If I don’t, she shouts. Loudly. So I do. After all, it’s just a name. Right?
Every night I’m not travelling, I hear them.
It varies how it starts. Kind of. Kyla will drink.
They think I’m not old enough to understand, and they’re right I shouldn’t. But, I do and I wish I didn’t. I know drinking’s bad. I’m never going to drink, never.
But Kyla does.
It always starts like that, but after that it varies. Sometimes, she will be happy and nice, giving me chocolate and letting me stay up. Her and dad will joke around and we’ll all laugh and be happy. It’s rare but it does happen.
Other nights, she leaves for hours and hours and hours. It’s long past my bedtime and probably long past hers before she comes home. Drunk. Once so drunk, she tripped over and broke mum’s china vase. Dad shouted at her for that. I’ve got a piece in my bedroom, under my pillow. Dad doesn’t know otherwise he would take it off me, in case it hurts me.
The most frequent outcome is she shouts. At me. At dad. At herself. As long as she shouts, she’s okay, but we’re not, me and Paddy and dad.
That’s what’s happened tonight. Kyla’s shouting at dad. She’s not stopping. She won’t stop. I hug Paddy to my chest and hope. I don’t know what I’m hoping for. Maybe for them to calm down, maybe for Kyla to leave.
Maybe for mum to come back, even though I know she never will.
She’s my mum, not Kyla.
Quietly, I get up. I need to close the door, need to block out their shouting. I know exactly which floorboards creak and groan, which ones are slippery, which one’s have toys on, because I’ve done this so many times. I don’t know why I don’t just close the door when I go to bed. It would be so much easier. I guess I’m just hoping it’s going to stop.
But I know it won’t.
When I’m back in bed, with the cover once again up to my chin, I close my eyes. I close Paddy’s eyes, and pull him close. To my ear.
I need to hear his voice, which I know isn’t real, real like the voices downstairs, but I love to hear it anyway. He whispers how we just have to wait, wait until I’m older and Kyla can’t tell me what to do, wait for her to leave. He tells me that we will be okay, just think of the future, think of dad, think of mum and her smile, the one which tells you that everything will be okay. Think, don’t listen. Think, and imagine. Because he will always be there with me, through every night and every argument.
Together, Paddy, we can do anything.
One day, I’ll be bigger.
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Very good job writing a believable 7yo. She doesn't sound too smart or too weird, it's very well balanced.
Hi there, I am the moderator of a subreddit on reddit.com called readmeashortstory, where users can upload voice clips of themselves reading short stories for the enjoyment of others. I am wondering if I can have your permission to use this short story for one of my readings? If so, you'd be credited and linked to this website on all posted mediums. I do not receive any financial compensation for the content posted to my subreddit.
yes! that would be great! thanks
Thank you for the permission. Here is a link to the subreddit containing my reading: https://www.reddit.com/r/readmeashortstory/comments/ljj9c4/together_we_can_do_anything_by_dakota_meyer_see/
Awwww! this was so sweet, and you captured the mind of a little boy very well.
As I started to read this I couldn't help but think of Puff the Magic Dragon. It had that kind of happiness and whimsy and then right in the middle it took a sad and dark turn. It's not easy to have both elements in one story but this worked so well. I could see the stars because I had some when I was little and I remember as thy began to peel. I admire you for choosing this direction and making it so readable. I think this is the first story I've read of yours and I am an instant fan. Great job.
Wow, you entered the character's mind and made everything come true.
I thought you got into the seven year old mindset extremely well. A great short, nice work!
I really enjoyed this. If i had half your vision and imagination i would be a happy man. Cracking
Hey! This is a really cute story. It was easy to read and an interesting my perspective / take on the prompt. I’d be interested in any comments you might have on my stories.
An amazing story! Excellent way to present what a child feels about the ones who are supposed to protect her but ended doing something else. Keep developing your literary skills.
Good job 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹
Goodness your story drew me in right from the start. Really well written.
This was such a great read. It was believable, and some sad elements in it. It is very well balanced. Great work! (BTW, I agree. Walter Tevis is such a good author!)
Aww this was adorable and sad at the same time. I love how you wrote from the child's point of view. It was beautiful!!
This so sweet. I really liked it. Congrats!
Your stories kinda give me a studio glibli vibe; like, they’re dark, but they end up better in the end. They all have an aesthetic, which is really interesting!
You're gonna have a few notifs from me, hehe sorry! Feedback: [Everynight, we lie together in my bed,] Space in between every and night. Onto the next story :P
This is so sweet. How you got into the mindset of a 7-year-old. Great job.