I was bad last night and didn’t finish my story! I wrote for forty minutes but wasn’t able to wrap it up in that timeframe. I thought about just posting what I had, but I am committed to 31 complete stories this month. So, stay tuned …
For now, on to the next prompt!
Day 5 Prompt: “Have some fun today: steal something from a favorite published universe. Remember, you can’t sell a derivative work without permission, or a license, but that’s not the point today. Today is all about having fun in a world you know well, or with characters you already love.”
Ooh, fan fiction. The possibilities for this are enticing. Harry Potter? Lord of the Rings? The wonderful world of Jane Austin?
I was going to set my story in the world of that magical childhood favorite, The Little Prince. And part of my story does take place there, but only indirectly. Stories have lives of their own. This one was fun to see unfold.
The Little Prince
“ ‘And that is how I made the acquaintance of the little prince.’ ” Sara snapped the book shut. Okay bud, time for bed.”
“But mom! Can we read a little more? Please? I’m not even tired!”
This was patently false. Will’s eyes were heavy, and she’d caught him blinking repeatedly during the sheep part. She hoped he was really interested in the story and not just stalling. It was one of her favorites.
“We can pick up where we left off tomorrow.” Will thrust his chin out in a little spasm of defiance and sulked at her. “And do you know what?” Sara continued, “We’ll find out tomorrow all about the little prince’s home. You know, he lives on his own planet. And guess what else?” Now she had him. “It’s actually an asteroid!”
“Really? How does he live on an asteroid? Don’t they go really fast?”
“We’ll have to wait and find out tomorrow. But trust me, he lives on an asteroid. And we’re going to read all about it. Good night, sweetie.”
“I really want to read just one more page. Can we? Please? You will be my best mommy ever.” She had to laugh at his cheesy grin.
“Will. Come on. You have school tomorrow. And mommy …” Sara had a million things to do but was probably going to take a hot bath and go to bed early. It had been a long weekend. She was just about to put the book back on the shelf with the others when she stopped. “You know what? I have an idea.”
“This is an old trick Nana taught me. If you put a book under your pillow, then when you fall asleep you can visit the book in your dreams.”
“Is that really true?” He seemed skeptical, but curious.
“Well, it worked for me. I remember a whole summer I stayed at Nana’s house and every night I climbed the Alps—those are big mountains—with a little girl named Heidi and her goats.” Sara paused for a minute. It was true, she thought, smiling. She hadn’t thought about that in so long. But every day she’d read that book with her grandmother, and every night she’d had the most delicious dreams about Heidi and her grandfather and the goats. Maybe it would be the same for Will. “Shall we try it?”
“Okay.” Will lifted his pillow and Sara slid the slim volume underneath. They smiled conspiratorially as she turned off the light.
* * *
“Mommy, mommy, it worked! It really worked, I am not even kidding!” Will burst into the kitchen, just as she was starting the coffee.
“What worked, honey?” Sara stifled a yawn. She couldn’t remember how many scoops she’d put in and had to dump the basket and started again. “And before you start telling me all about it, do you want waffles or Cheerios?” Once Will started talking, there was no stopping him.
“The book, mom! The Little Prince! One minute I was lying in my bed, just starting to close my eyes, and the next minute … I was in a huge dessert! And do you know what I heard?” His face was so mischievous. Sara decided to play along. “A voice?” She set the bowl down in front of him at the counter and began slicing a banana over the top.
“Uh huh … and do you know what the voice said?”
“Um, take me to your leader?”
“No! It said, ‘If you please, draw me a sheep!’ Mommy, it was the little prince. He was in my dream, just like you said he would be!”
Sara smiled and ruffled Will’s hair. “Nana always did know the best tricks. I wish you could have met her buddy.” She poured herself some coffee and brought a stool around to sit across from him. “So what did you and the little prince do? Don’t tell me you went to his planet without me? We’re supposed to read that part tonight.”
“Um …” Will squirmed in his seat. “Yeah, we did. I’m sorry.”
“What!? I can’t believe it!”
His face lit up as he remembered something. “And it really was an asteroid, just like you said.”
“Mmm hmm.” Sara unwrapped the morning paper and began skimming the headlines.
“And it doesn’t have a name, only a number. Well, a letter and some numbers. Asteroid B-612.”
Sara paused, coffee mug halfway to her mouth, and looked at Will over her glasses. “Did the little prince tell you that?”
“No. I just knew what it was called. In my dream I just knew it. The little prince doesn’t call his planet that. He’s kind of mysterious about answering questions.”
Sara was sure they had not read that far yet. “Will, did daddy read The Little Prince to you?”
“Did you watch a cartoon of it on TV?”
“No. Mom! I had a dream about it. I told you!”
“Okay, okay.” Will could sound out simple words now. He must been reading ahead. “Hurry up, honey, you need to get dressed for school.”
* * *
“ ‘ “Were you so sad, then?” I asked, “on the day of the forty-four sunsets?” But the little prince made no reply.’ ” Sara slipped a scrap of paper in the book for a bookmark and kissed Will on the forehead. “To be continued,” she said, sliding the book back into its place on the shelf.
She had installed the little shelf before Will was born, when they’d made the spare bedroom into a nursery. It had seemed like a good place for her Little Prince collection. Since she first began traveling, back in college, Sara had purchased a copy of the book in every country she’d visited. Almost every. She’d read once that The Little Prince was one of the most translated books in the world, but there were a few placed she’d been where she hadn’t been able to find a copy. Still, there were at least two dozen.
“No wait! Mommy! I need to put it under my pillow!”
Sara looked down at Will, sitting up straight in his bed. She was impressed that he remembered, and that he was willing to keep up the ruse. Who knew, maybe he’d actually had a dream about the little prince. She pulled the book back off the shelf and handed it to him. Will slid it somberly under his pillow and blew her a kiss.
* * *
“Con su permiso, dibujame una oveja!” No sooner had Will managed to get the words out than he erupted into a fit of giggles. “That’s what the little prince said this time. He’s funny, mommy. He was talking Spanish really fast, just like Ms. Nikolina.” Ms. Nikolina was his friend Bianca’s grandmother, who sometimes watched them after school, if Sara had a meeting that was ran late.
“Oh, does Bianca have The Little Prince too?” Maybe Ms. Nikolina had been reading the book to the kids in Spanish?
“No. Mommy, I could understand everything the little prince said, even though it was in Spanish.”
“Like when Ms. Nikolina speaks to you?”
“No! I don’t understand hardly anything she says! Bianca tells me everything in English.” He gave her a look that said “duh.”
Sara was stumped. Maybe they were learning Spanish in school? “Okay Mister, shoes, coat, backpack. Let’s go!”
At bedtime, when Will was brushing his teeth, Sara slipped her hand under his pillow and drew the book out. She froze. It was the Spanish translation. She must have grabbed the wrong one from the shelf the night before. Will ran across the room and dove into his bed, pulling the blankets up and settling in for his story. “Will, what does this say?” Sara held the book out to him, open to a random page.
He squinted and made a face. “I can’t read that! He tried to sound out a word and giggled. Mom, that book is weird.” Frowning a little, Sara returned the book to the shelf and pulled down the English version.
When they were done, she traded it for the French volume, surreptitiously sliding it under Will’s pillow. See what you make of that, little man, she thought.
* * *
The next morning, Will slipped into the kitchen without a sound, making her jump when she turned to find him already sitting in his place at the counter. “Good morning.” She gave him a kiss on the forehead as she passed by to get the cereal.
“Good morning. S’il vous plaît, dessine-moi un mouton!”
There was a crash from the pantry. Little fruit-flavored Oh’s rolled across the floor in all directions.
* * *
Thinking herself very foolish, Sara nevertheless embarked on a series of experiments. The results were as follows. If she placed a foreign language version of The Little Prince under Will’s pillow, the next morning he claimed to have spoken to the little prince in that language in his dreams. He could even recite the prince’s first words—his plea for a drawing of a sheep—in the new language. She tried German, Hebrew, and, just to be sure, Cantonese. But Will grew bored with this approach. He seemed to be reliving the same scene each night, just in a different language. So she put the English version under his pillow for three nights in a row. And in the morning, over pancakes and syrup, bacon and eggs, bagels and cream cheese, he amazed her with his recounting of the story. His visits with the little prince did not necessarily track the order of scenes in the book. Sometimes he told her things that happened much later.
And the things he said! These were not a child’s made-up tales upon studying the illustrations in a book. He knew, for example, that the prince’s rose was not only beautiful, but that she was a little selfish. That the prince loved her, but that he also wanted to be free from her. “That’s why he left his planet, mommy,” Will explained, “And the rose knew, she knew that it was her fault that he wanted to go away. And she told him to go, because she could tell that something bad was going to happen. But you know what I think?”
“What baby?” Sara was leaning close to him over the counter, practically spellbound.
“I think the rose really wants the little prince to come back to her. But sometimes you have to let go of something to keep it.”
Tears sprung up in Sara’s eyes. “That’s true baby, that’s very true.” She blinked, thinking how silly she was being, and turned to clean up the mess from breakfast.
To round out her experiments, Sara one night slid the book out from under Will’s pillow, careful not to wake him. She stood in the doorway watching him sleep, then looked at the book for a long time. Instead of putting it back on the shelf, she placed it under her own pillow.
The next day was Saturday. No alarm clock. Will came bursting into her bedroom, distraught. “Mommy, mommy, I was talking to the little prince, just like always, and then, all of a sudden, he was gone! And it was just dark and quiet. I kept calling him, but he wouldn’t answer. And when I woke up, mommy, the book, was gone.”
Sara smiled, a little sadly, and drew the book out from her own pillow. Will gasped. Then a thought registered. “Mommy, did it work! Did you meet the little prince?”
“No baby, it didn’t work.” Incredibly, Sara felt a little sob grip her. It was ridiculous, but some part of her had actually believed that something magical was happening. And maybe something magical was happening. But it was a child’s magic. And she was a grown-up.
That night, after they had read her favorite scene, the one with the little fox who wished only to be tamed, Sara handed Will the Italian translation, her favorite, because of the beautiful illustration on the cover. “This was the first Little Prince I ever bought,” she told him. The English version had belonged to her mother. She placed the book under Will’s pillow and gave him a big, squeezy hug.
“Mommy? Will you sit with me until I fall asleep?” Sara looked at him. She didn’t typically go in for such things. They were usually just ploys to delay bedtime. But Will looked so serious.
“Are you scared, honey?” She remembered him studying the drawing of the first King the little prince came upon, after leaving his planet. The depiction—deliciously awkward, like all of the book’s illustrations—showed him as a severe-jawed man with a flowing star-spangled cloak. Rather intimidating, she had to admit.
“No. I just want you to sit with me. Just for a minute.”
“Okay, sure.” Sara dimmed the lights and sat on the edge of Will’s bed. She watched his long eyelashes flutter in the moonlight. Suddenly sleepy, Sara stretched out on the bed next to him. Will nuzzled his face into the crook of her neck and, just before they both drifted off, she twined her fingers through his and gave his hand a little squeeze.
* * *
Sara woke with a start, disoriented. She lay stiffly, uncovered, on the edge of Will’s bed. He was awake too, staring into her eyes, their hands still clasped together. She narrowed her eyes at him, questioningly, and he seemed to answer her, without saying a word, excitement lighting up his face.
At the same moment, they both bolted upright and shouted, “Se per favore, disegnami una pecora!” Sara yanked the book from underneath the pillow, held it in front of her triumphantly, and joined her son in a fit of giggles, until they were both rolling on the floor, tears in their eyes.
[Day 5: 2327 words]