Friday, 16 December 2011

99) Family Time

    Out behind their house, only six years old, Mom and Dad and baby son Junior, only four years old, take in the night while sitting on their swinging bench. There’s no soft whoosh of traffic in the distance, the highway is several dozens of miles away and thousands of feet below. There’s only the keening song of cicada, the percussive whine of crickets, the occasional muted dog barking off in the distance, and the slow rhythmic creak of the swing.
    All at once they ooh and ahhh as a large meteor streaks across the sky. It burns yellow then blue, all the while splitting off into smaller and smaller fragments until it finally disappears in a bright flash of white.
    “Oh, mommy wassat?”
    “That’s a falling star, honey.”
    She laughs a little and says, “Mmm, it’s a celebration honey.”
    Dad chimes in, “Of the great and humble, kind and virtuous King Barley the Sheep.”
    They both stare as his crazy proclamation and Jr. laughs first then mom giggles too.
    “No joke,” Dad continues, “King Barley was the best king ever. He’d let little boys stay up late and everything.”
    Junior squeals “No, sheep can’t be king.”
    “Hmm, why not?”
    “They’re not person people?”
    “Oh, ok then. What if he was only king of the animals?”
    “Umm, I guess that’s okay. But why was he king?”
    Above his head the adults have a quick wordless conversation with their facial expressions. You want to tell the story? I can’t think of anything. Is it bed time? No, not yet. Ok, I think I got something. Thanks, love you.
    Mom says, “Once upon a time, back before people.”
    “A long time ago, huh?”
    “Back before people it was only animals and it was wild. There weren’t any roads or cars…”
    “Or houses?”
    “Back before houses, or airplanes, or anything human a sheep named Barley came along.”
    “Was he the king?”
    “Not yet, he was a simple sheep, but he wanted everyone to get along. You see, Barley had noticed that when we work together, when the animals worked together, they got things done faster and better than when they fought.”
    “Like you and daddy fight.”
    “Kind of, but with more claws and teeth.”
    Junior laughs.
    “What’s so funny?” Dad says.
    “You and Mommy with big teeth.” And he waggles his fingers out of his mouth miming giant fangs and everyone laughs.
    Mom continues stoically, “It was hard going, but eventually Barley the sheep convinced every kind of animal to work together. And once everyone saw how prosperous, how well everyone was doing, they decided to make him king.”
    “But why the falling star?”
    “I was just getting to that, Mr. Impatient Pants. So, Barley wasn’t a magical sheep, he was only really smart and knew how to get people to trust each other. And for a long time, longer than any sheep had lived before, he ruled with a kind hoof and a gentle nose and the best listening ears. But he aged, as everyone does and eventually he died.”
    Dad chimes in with a heart felt, “Awww.”
    “Eventually even the gods in the stars heard of Barley’s triumph and they were so moved that they sent most beautiful stars to rain down on the Earth in thanks for his good work.”

No comments:

Post a Comment