Bedtime Ritual

“Once upon a time there was a lovely young princess named Frances who—”

“Dad.”

“What?”

“Frances is a boring name,” his daughter says. “She’s a princess!”

“Okay.” He clears his throat and begins, “Once upon a time there was a lovely young princess named Frances Michelle Arabella Valentine Cumulonimbus Pocketlint who—”

“Dad!”

“What?”

“Pocketlint? Come on.”

“I’ll have you know that Pocketlint was a very illustrious name in these parts.”

“Whatever.”

“May I continue? Because,” he shows her his watch, “we haven’t even started the story and it’s almost time for lights out.”

Her nod grows into a yawn as she burrows her head into his chest.

“So,” he begins again, “once upon a time there was this princess with a beautiful and fancy and very respected last name, but everybody just called her Frankie.”

A muffled, “Princess Frankie.”

“Of course. Princess Frankie lived in a land far far away. You’d have to take two airplanes, eight trains and transfer buses three times to—”

“And two taxis, three kangaroos, and a pogo stick,” she adds seriously. Well, almost. Her sleepy delayed giggles melt his heart.

“Hey,” he says, trying to sound stern, “who’s telling this story?”

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