A Bedtime Story
by Bobby Finger
How’s that? You warm enough? Good. Sleep well, my angel. A story? Which story? One you haven’t heard? Yes, I think I can tell you a story you haven’t heard. But only if you promise to keep it a secret! Just between you and grandma. Can you do that? Can you keep a secret? OK. I knew you could.
Well it all began years and years ago, before you were born. Before you daddy was born! It was back when I lived in a place called New Zealand. Do you know where New Zealand is? Well it’s a far away and beautiful place that’s near perfect blue water and tall mountains and bright green grass covered in sheep. Yes! Sheep just like Maisey. It looks like another world, like something from your storybooks. But it’s a real place. I grew up in a tiny city on the water with my mum and dad and sisters and brother. You know Jerry, Angelo, and India? They’ve visited before. Oh, maybe you don’t remember. But we all lived together and had a very happy life. My mum, your great grandmother, was a wonderful woman. So smart! So beautiful! She was a poet. One of the best poets New Zealand ever saw. Do you know what a poet is? Someone who writes poems? I wanted to be just like her. Just exactly like her. I loved to write poems when I was a little girl — not much older than you are now! And then I figured out I liked singing them, too. Because what’s a song other than a poem that you add a tune to? So I wrote songs and sang them at home and at school and it was so fun. People liked my songs. My family. My friends. Even boys! Haha, give it time, little one. But people did love them and even big music companies from America began to notice. But nothing amounted to much until year 12 of my schooling. A song I wrote was suddenly a hit! And not just in New Zealand. People listened to it all over the world. People took photos of me and videos of me and wanted to have conversations of me and wanted me to sing for their television shows! It was all very sudden and very fun. After recording my songs for a number of years, I met your grandfather. A few years after that, I had your daddy. And then, look! Here you are! All because of some songs I wrote. But that’s not the whole story. There’s something else. No, no, don’t be frightened, dear. It’s not scary. It’s just something you need to keep secret. I just want you to keep this our special story. Just the two of us. Forever. When I recorded those songs, those popular songs, I was older than I said I was. What do I mean? Let me explain. It’s something magical. But it’s real. It happened to grandma. Do you trust me? Good. I used to walk along the coast of Devonport, the town where I grew up. Early walks. Before anyone else was awake. I found I thought most clearly in the morning when no one else was around and the sounds of the waves and the birds wind and the sand would rush through my brain and metamorphose into a song. So. One day I was taking one of my walks, I was about 16, and everything was normal until I saw a figure emerge from the water. No, no, it wasn’t a fish. Haha, no, not a shark. Something more — oh, abstract. Do you know what abstract means? It means, oh, less defined. Kind of…blurry. And the figure spoke to me with the most lovely woman’s voice. Do you know what she said? She said, “You need more time, Ella.” I was so shocked. So confused. I said, “What do you mean?” And she explained to me that she would guarantee my success in singing if I accepted her tutelage. Her teachings. She wanted to teach me to write songs and sing them for the world. But there was one catch — she said it would take time. I told her I don’t have time! I told her I wanted to be ready now! But she said that was foolish and that one must work hard for one’s fortunes. What did I do? I told her no and walked off. Oh, but she followed me. She did not like being ignored. After I continued to reject her offer, she made me a deal. Do you want to know what that deal was? She said she would return all the time I spent mastering my art. Every day spent with her and the others in the deep would be returned to me upon leaving. So I said yes. And I followed her into the depths of the ocean to their kingdom. To their paradise. For 10 years I wrote songs and sang songs. I entertained the gods of old. I rode chariots pulled by dolphins. I swam with seahorses. I lived in a castle. All of this until suddenly Salacia — her name was Salacia — told me I was ready to ascend. And without as much as a goodbye, I was returned to the shore. The same shore where, 10 years prior, I had followed her. I ran home and looked in the mirror. I was still 16! I was still Ella! But there was something else. It wasn’t 10 years of aging, no there weren’t gray hairs or wrinkles, but there was something else. It didn’t concern my family or my friends. To them, to everyone — I was still the same Ella. And before long I had written a new song. A new song called “Royals.”
Darling, are you awake? Sleep well, my little Ella. Sleep well and dream. Never forget to dream.
Previously: 52 Weeks of Us Weekly