Title: Stories For Dead Children
Summary: Storytelling in the afterlife.
Written for Quick Challenge #2: Bedtime Stories http://forums.delphiforums.com/xf3f/messages/?msg=273.1
It was really time for bed, but things were more flexible there. Fewer people stuck to schedules. And the schedules they did cling to were more out of comfort than need. Which is why the woman with red hair smiled as the three kids gathered at her feet, instead of climbing onto one of the beds like they usually do. Even though she was the adult, and they the children, she didn’t have seniority and didn’t impose many rules. The two older children were there before her, and they’d welcomed her, then the youngest child. And they’d been together ever since.
One of the children was really a teenager, but she’d never grown out of her love of stories. Like the other two she hadn’t grown out of a lot of things. The girl reached down and picked up the littler of the two blond children, and sat her on her lap. The smaller girl smiled winsomely, her eyes wide in anticipation. She was barely out of toddlerhood, which made her appearance there all the more heart breaking. Not that the little boy wasn't a heartbreaker too with his bright blue eyes and slightly crooked smile. Too big to share a lap, he snuggled against the older girl's side. They gave the woman a rapt look, all three of them, a signal that she could begin her story.
The woman's voice was rich, and she was the natural story-teller. Her sister would have said she enjoyed lecturing, but her sister wasn't there. "Once upon a time, there were three children who were too good for the world."
"Who?" the youngest asked, though she well knew the answer since it wasn't the first time they’d heard it.
"Us," the boy whispered loudly, looking at the storyteller for confirmation. She nodded.
"One of them was a girl who loved games and her big brother. And he loved her too. When she was taken away he kept looking for almost all his life because he missed her so much. Not too long ago she got to say goodbye and he was so happy. But sad too knowing that he couldn't have her back."
"Were you happy, though?" the little boy asked the dark-haired girl. She gave him a sad smile.
"Who else was there?" the littlest girl demanded impatiently.
The storyteller knew she needed to go on before her audience got antsy. "There was also a little boy who loved baseball and riding his bike. All his life he wanted his own bike, and he was so happy on it. That’s how his Mommy remembers him still, waving happily from his bike. But his daddy loved him too, and like the girl's sister his daddy looked and looked for him, then looked for answers so the little boy could rest."
"Well?" the littlest girl asked expectantly when the storyteller paused for breath.
"Impatient little goose," the teenage girl whispered affectionately.
"And last there was a special little girl who could make anyone love her. She had not one Mommy, but two, which is pretty special. The Mommy she didn't live with met her and loved her so much right away that she wanted the little girl to come live with her. Her Mommy still wishes she could, and so does the man who thought he might like to be her new Daddy."
The storyteller smiled at the children, who were pleased to have a story told about them. Usually, that's when the story ended. This time was different.
"What about you?" the little boy asked. "Where are you in the story?"
She looked startled. Her, in the story? What would she tell them? A small smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. "Me? I got to grow up with the Mommy who missed the little girl, and got to know the man who looked for his sister. I'm sure I would have liked the man who missed his little boy, because he seemed so nice. But I had to leave the Earth before I met him."
"Why?" The little girl asked. She was three, so whys came naturally to her.
"To tell stories, of course. And to love you while the people who miss you are too busy to visit us," she explained.
"But they'll be here someday," the older girl said quietly.
"Yes," the storyteller agreed. "But until they do the four of us have each other."
They rushed to her then and threw their arms around her. "We love you, Melissa!" they all cried. Names were important to all of them, it helped them remember who'd they'd been.
"And I love you Samantha, Luke and Emily," she said fondly. And she did.
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