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Bedtime stories for Brysen
There's an old lady that lives alone in a yellow house. She's content. One day an old man knocks and says Hi, may I interest you in a cup of coffee over at my house. The lady is taken aback but also instantly smitten. She covers her mouth, half in disbelief, half in happiness over how sure she is that she loves this man. Have we met before, she asks. The man answers, No, but I've lived across you for years. I just figured, it's time we met. I've loved you for too long.
The boy has lived underwater for 2 years now. He is forever 7. Alone and young. Happy and yearning. Constantly breaking and healing at the same time. He ran away from home not because it was a sad home, but because it was too happy and bright. Underwater it's quiet and grey, blue on good days, silver on really good days. He thinks of his mother. What have I done to deserve such pure love? Will she ever forgive me for leaving? Does she still want to see me? On land, his mother waits every day, in his room. Trusting.
This blanket fort can take you places, the younger brother announces to his older brother. The older one believes this, and enters the fort. He is transported to a forest and he feels eyes on him. Kirk!!! He shouts for his brother. Where are you!? Hey relax, I'm here. Kirk takes his hand and leads him to the bushes where the winged fairies are waiting. They dance around the brothers, sprinkling glitter. Kirk urges his brother to open his mouth and taste the glitter. He does, and his eyes widen. They taste like candy. Can we stay here forever? Maybe.
A young girl meets a talking horse. There's fog and she's scared. Don't worry, I'm a kind horse. Is there a horse that's not kind? She asks. I don't know any, but my friends say some horses in other places have turned bad. Why? Oh because people are not kind to them. It's how they can survive. Do you agree with that? The horse considers this for a moment and bows his head. No, I believe we should remain kind even if people are unkind. Do you think that's wise? The horse answers, you're gonna have to ask humans that.
There's a book that sings her father's favorite song in her mother's voice. It sounds creepy but it's actually soothing. This book can also imitate her long-gone brothers' voices. She is happy, being with this book. The story itself is about a girl left alone because of the world ending. Why was that girl in the book spared, and how did she survive. No one knows. All she knows is she's alone now and everything's going to be okay somehow. She found this book in her father's study. Dusty. Maybe she can survive this new life on her own.
In the olden days, people traveled for days just to deliver a message. They looked each other in the eyes and were happy just because they were together. Think: A couple who were apart for months, now holding hands, bursting with quiet happiness about how miraculous it is that they're in proximity of each other now when just days before they were close to forgetting each other's face and voice. Think: The renewed surge of love in their bodies, as if they can't imagine a better feeling. Think about how good it feels, to experience all this skin to skin.
The little boy looks at a box, a gift from his sister on his 5th birthday. Open it, his sister tells him. He peeks inside and sees two puppies. How long have they been inside, why were they so quiet? His sister just responds with a smile, hugs him, and tells him to take care of the puppies. They're siblings, you know. The little boy asks, where's their Mom? She's away, now you're their guardian. What's a guardian? A protector. Okay, I can be that person! The boy takes them out of the box and gives them names. He's happy.
Outside the car there's an explosion of cotton candy in what looks like hundreds of colors. This sunset is endless, relentless, beautiful. It's been what, hours? Since they left home. He looks at his father, driving, quiet, there. He remembers his mother—not there. Where are we going, really? A new place, his father says, looks him in the eye through the rear view mirror. How many conversations have they had in this manner? Short, firm, certain. He loves his father, he's there. This sky goes on forever, this sky gives him comfort. A new place. Hopefully it's warm, too.
My mother says she watches me sleep sometimes. She's both happy and afraid that we're together in this time, in this world. What if something happens to me? How could she forgive herself? She says that nothing matters more to her than to know that I'm safe and happy, all the time. I tell her I feel the same. Can you imagine, Mom? How good it feels that the person you care about, cares about you, too? I'm thankful we got to share this life, in this time, in this world. Don't be afraid. Bad things happen sometimes. It's okay.
When do our arms know when to lift for a hug. Our brain tells them to lift themselves of course. They often have these conversations in the small hours. Mostly obvious questions, excuses for small talk that can lead to good sleep, maybe. They haven't slept properly for months. They both worry about their children. Far, maybe alone. Hank is in another city. Kara is in another continent. When do we stop worrying about our children? It may be that we were never meant to, honey. and oh, Arms know when to lift when the person sees someone they love.
Kids don't like being called "young," adults don't like being called "old." The mayor devised a way so that fights could be prevented. Their issues range from petty ones such as the aforementioned, to deep-seated and years-long misunderstandings such as who's supposed to be in charge? Young is up to age 49. Old people argue that 35 should be considered old already. This results in confusion for everyone, even the old. Young ones believe they should be in charge because they're stronger. The mayor (young) devised a way, but no one's listening, really. Apparently everyone resists authority, too.
All stories have an ending. This one does not. It begins on the clouds, somewhere above Japan. A boy who grew up in the clouds wishes to live among the humans. He prays to his god, who then overshoots and sends the boy to the ocean. He lived with whales and turtles for a bit. He liked it, but he still yearned for land. He wanted to plant his feet on the ground, he wanted to meet someone who looked like him. Cloud creatures are too pretty, the boy knows he belongs on earth. One day his wish comes true.
In a far off future people touch their screens for warmth. Fire has long been extinct and no one remembers or could learn how to make it. What an impossible world? When one touches their screen, another hand appears. On the other side of the screen is another human, behind glass, not far—but actually inside the device. Trapped on their own volition. It's safer behind glass, they say. And so they're employed as warmth givers. Not actual warmth, of course. But an illusion of it. Make-believe warmth. No one is really happy here. Everyone's just mastered to pretend.
We revisit the two brothers who enter another world via their blanket fort. Today the fairies are teaching them how to breathe underwater for long amounts of time. First, you have to believe. Second, you have to forget about your lungs. Third, you have to ignore fear. Very easy; very hard. Kirk has practiced for days before his older brother got to begin, and so he knows more about the technique. Larry is beginning to feel fear and he can't ignore it. One of the fairies sense this and comfort him. Stay here, she says. Her smile is like rainbows.
On a mountain there's a hut that birds like visiting. A young boy lives there, he feeds the birds and sings to them. The birds are relieved that they get to rest and eat. Bird calls are rare around here—a lot of them are in one place anyway, there's no need to communicate from afar. All you hear is the boy's voice, the birds quiet in rapt attention. What are wings for if I don't have to fly, I can just stay here and rest—one of the birds is thinking. Please don't leave us, the bird silently pleads.
The rain hasn't let up for years. It's a wonder the ocean hasn't spilled over yet. He laughs, then, knowing this is stupid. He looks at her to check for a reaction, which he gets. She wrinkles her nose when she finds his jokes a tad funny, she raises her eyebrows when she deems them interesting. Today she raises her eyebrows. Then she looks at him with such love he has to put a hand on his chest to steady his heart. It's too sweet, this story. He says: I wish we can stay here forever. She wrinkles her nose.
We revisit the father and son who were driving through cotton candy skies. They've reached the new place, and it's warm. The boy thinks of his mother, he misses him. She used to love him, for sure. Distance can make one realize what was obvious all along. He asks his father if they can send her a postcard. But we don't know where she is, son. All the sadness washes over him again, like an unknown sea. Salty and cold. He adds a notch in his heart, strengthens his memory to reject good ones that can make him yearn. Good.
This mother we speak of, where is she? She's followed them, and right this moment watches as her son steels himself further to prevent getting hurt. How has it all come to this. We were so bad at communicating, his father and I. There were so many things I shouldn't have said as there were many others I should've said instead. How do we know what to say in the moment, and if it's the right thing to say? How do we know that one sentence can bring a world of change? How do we right a wrong? She's hopeful.
There's a lullaby that only her grandmother knew how to sing. When she passed, this was the first thing she checked with her Mom. Do you know Nana's song? Her mother shook her head and said sorry. She tried to hum it, recall the words. But they left her now, too. One night she hears her grandmother's voice outside her room, only to wake up and find out it was a dream. The song still refuses to stick, why can't she learn it, she needs to learn it. She dreams of her grandmother again, but this time she doesn't wake,
There's a kind of happiness that we can get only through questionable means. Questionable meaning not through normal ways. What is normal, what is not. There's a kind of happiness we can get only after going through pain, most kinds of happiness come that way. Most times they aren't even pure happiness—there's a tinge of grey, of tears, of an ever-present specter. But we take what we get, and we live with what we have. All this, in spite of the knowledge that we can have more. Once upon a time, there was a boy who wanted more.
We revisit the girl who met a kind horse. They've become best friends. They were kind to each other. Honest, compassionate, generous. It had to end though. The horse said goodbye on a rainy day, beside a brook. The girl cried, but the horse did not notice, with the rain and all. They sat there for hours and did not want to leave. Until the moment came that they had to part ways, because that moment always comes. Goodbye, horse, this was the best day of my life. This sadness has made me realize what a good friendship we have.
Somehow in all the confusion, there is that one true thing. Breakfast. They've been married for 30 years and have never missed having breakfast together. Never is not used loosely here, mind you. It's an absolute truth. They only operate under absolutes. They made a pact that if love isn't there anymore they would leave each other. It's all or nothing. Every morning they are happy, eating across each other, talking about what their day would be. They look forward to dinner when they'd talk about how their day was. It's so boring that it's so dependable. They trudge on.
There's no order in how we do things around here, the man scoffs at him. You're new, aren't you? We don't follow time here, you can bloody do whatever you want at any bloody time. The boy nods, looks around. Outside a house there's a day bed with what looks like a mother and daughter on it. They're napping, the man says. But it's 6 a.m. What time's their bed time? Who knows! The man is exasperated. Throw away your watch! The boy runs in confusion. He wants structure, what is this world? Is he trapped here, please no.
There are many ways we ask for forgiveness. One may do it without words, one may do it with cooking, one may do it with just a look. His father did it with words, he liked sitting down and talking about feelings. He has resented this about his father for so long. But when they drifted apart and he learned about other people's fathers—how they're unresponsive and distant—he resolved to find his father, whatever it takes. However, they've lost contact abruptly over something silly, and now he has no idea how to find him and love him again.
There's a meadow. The grass is lilac and butterflies are shaped as flowers. At a certain time of day, when everything is awake and there's a breeze, the whole meadow looks like it's swaying endlessly, slowly, peacefully. Here the sun is often benevolent, hiding behind clouds, giving off just the right amount of heat. In the afternoon, fog rolls over and birds join the butterflies in their play. Children would come out and relax just before dinner time, they'd lay on the grass and giggle, look up at the sky. They'd get up and go on home, warm and bright.
They thought nothing of it, years ago. Hugging was taken for granted. Now there's a blanket of hush over the city as it makes sense of the days. It's almost winter and just last year it was normal to huddle together for warmth, even strangers—on the standing-trip train, at the mall during Holiday rush, at the bakery rushing to get that last batch of bagel for brunch. They laught about it, nervously, side-eyeing the months that are yet to come. Will they be the same, worse, or better? They march on; optimistic, realistic. Waiting to touch again.
The little boy is mad at his mom. He doesn't understand why, really. Just that he feels like the color red. He didn't get the toy, he got a shirt instead. His mom said he needs the shirt more. He doesn't understand this either. Why are these decisions made for him, when he so clearly expressed what he wanted? He refuses to even look at his mom, who's calm and just going about her day, like there's nothing wrong. This makes him feel more red. But later on a smile from his mom disarms him. He hugs her, says sorry.
We revisit the boy who received puppies from his sister. Today the puppies are 8 years old. The boy is 13. Not yet old, still quite young. He's a little out of sorts today, having just become a teenager. He wanted to stay in that embrace with his mom, but also wanted to run away. He misses his sister, now in another city. She hasn't visited for months. Today's the first time she missed his birthday. No phone call yet. Just these adorable old dogs, looking at him from across the room. Waiting for clarity, waiting for life to begin.
There's a lake in the middle of the mountain, and it's said that a wise fish lives there. He doesn't believe this, but today he drives up. Mostly to prove everyone wrong (how?), a little bit to prove himself wrong. What if the fish is indeed wise, and could guide him on how to live his life? Advice from people is rubbish, too basic. What he wants, he doesn't know yet, only that it's not what everyone says he should do. So he reaches the lake. At night he sees a glint. Big fish. I am not wise, it says.
"Memory is tricky. Today you remember something that happened 11 years ago, tomorrow you forget something that happened 10 seconds ago. It's not what it's cracked up to be either, it's not a good place, memory, it's just not. Good memories? Pshaw, there's no such thing as a good memory, all memories are not-good in that they're in the past, they're gone! What's good in something that's done and over with?" This is how jaded she has become. He looks at her and sees a wounded child in need of love, tenderness. He hugs her. "Here's a good memory."
When he's sad, the little boy writes 5 things that he's thankful for. Today he's thankful for his mom, his dad, his sister, his Fortnite game, and that hug from his sister after breakfast. He's sad because it's raining. His mom taught him about the list a few weeks ago. So far it's working. He should also add that the rain is sure to end anyway, he finds comfort in the certainty that there is an end, however unpredictable its arrival is. Good and bad things end, it's okay, because they make way for new beginnings. He waits it out.
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