Based on an idea I had last summer, I’ve been writing a book of children’s bedtime stories, in the styles of the Assyrian bedtime stories my dad would tell me to get to sleep. Below is one of the stories from the collection.
There was, and there wasn’t, but by every star there was,
A town called Itwa and its twin called Litwa, together Itwa Litwa. It was here that Someone Scared was born, or wasn’t.
Now it was that half the Someones would love Someone Scared and half the Someones wouldn’t; and so he was born on the sum ninth day of the ninth month of the sum ninth megayear. This is where Someone was born: in the ninth home of the sum ninth block on the ninth street in the ninth district of the town of Itwa, twin town to the town of Litwa, the only towns on the sum ninth world in the sum ninth galaxy of the one big universe.
Someone Scared was the only child of Someone Lonley and Somone Late, who were descended of the founding families of the town of Itwa, twin town to the town of Litwa. But though they were First Family Someones, their home was humble, the sum ninth block humbler still, the ninth street the humblest most.
Now it was that the ninth district sat across the River Thirst, which divided the town in two. The ninth district, being across the River Thirst, so also sat in the foothills of the SoTheyWere Mountains, which held the Vista Forest; and it was there that lived the dreaded unseen Something Scary.
Now it was that when a baby was born, the Someones of the ninth district always covered their homes with wet sheets made of the wool of the Weeping Sheep who grazed in the foothills of the SoTheyWere Mountains. This was to make sure the Something Scary didn’t hear the newborn baby cry. It was the tradition, they said, since the Something Scary was born from the Fire and Ice of widest crater of the last volcano to blow in the tallest part of the SoTheyWere Mountains.
But Someone Lonely did not want to cover her home with wet sheets, made of the wool of the weeping sheep who grazed in the foothills of the SoTheyWere Mountains.
“How dark it’ll be!” she cried out, as she was attended by the Sons of the Staff, who made preparations for the Someones about to be born.
“No, it can’t be so! For my first little Someone to be born in darkness, so closed off!”
But the Sons of the Staff pet her hair and reassured her. All four Sons spoke with one voice, “And where are the sheets made of the wool of the Weeping Sheep, who graze in the foothills of the SoTheyWere Mountains?”
But Someone Lonely did not want to answer. Someone Late was to have brought them, but he could be anywhere, because he was always looking up to the sky and following birds where they flew, losing their way. Very likely he had gone to get the sheets made of the wool of the Weeping Sheep who grazed in the foothills of the SoTheyWere Mountains, and a bird sang to him and he followed.
So Someone Lonley laid on her couch and hated the birds who, with their slight songs and whisps of form could so easily lure her Someone Late away.
“I won’t have it!” shouted Someone Lonely, so loud even the toads on their stools in the River Thirst sheathed their tongues and turned their heads.
Now it happened (or it didn’t) that Someone Lonely’s dearest friend, Someone Whipsmart, held her hand and scattered the Sons of the Staff. “Shoo! Leave us to decide how her first little Someone will come into the world!” And indeed the Sons of the Staff answered with one voice and scattered and reformed outside, where they chattered and gossiped with one voice.
“I won’t let them cover the home with wool from the Weeping Sheep who graze in the foothills of the SoTheyWere Mountains,” said Someone Whipsmart, “but we must disguise the sound of your precious little Someone crying. For otherwise the old Someones will curse him and blame him for every bit of bad luck, saying he lured the Something Scary.”
“Please,” Someone Lonely said, smiling a weak smile, “If any Someone can think of a clever solution, it is you!”
Someone Whipsmart kissed her friend gently on the forehead and covered her face with one hand, as the Someones did when they made a solemn oath.
Out of the house she flew, as the Sons of the Staff bustled back in to continue preparation for the newest Someone of the town of Itwa, twin town to the town of Litwa, which together were Itwa Litwa.
Her gaze square and set, Someone Whipsmart strode down the main thoroughfare—the sum Seventh—of the Ninth District; before her waved the tallgrasses the Someones of the Ninth District planted along their roads to obscure them from the gaze of the Something Scary. So determined were her steps that although her footfalls were light, they shook the ground and the Footlong Sticksects, long, thin insects that lived in the grass, hopped off their grasses and across the road before her, an ever-opening curtain forever parting before her.
Truly she arrived at the door of Someone Always. She knocked only half a knock before the door swung open.
“Someone Whipsmart! My dear friend. Why are you not attending to the birth with Someone Lonely!?”
“Indeed I was,” Someone Whipsmart answered. “That is by fact why I am come. Are you prepared help?”
“Always,” came the answer.
“Go throughout your home and gather all of your beads; those precious and those not. The ones you use to decorate your bedclothes and curtains and tapestries.”
“I will do it,” said Someone Always, always sure.
“Bear them with you to the homes of Someone Sure and Someone Stunning and command they do the same; and let them each go to the homes of Someone Tallest and Someone Beloved, and Someone Truthful and Someone Meek, that they may bear their own beads and go see Someone Dutiful and Someone Beautiful, Someone Right and Someone Bright, and Someone Mother and Someone Other, and Someone Insightful and Someone Delightful, and Someone Faithful and Someone Tasteful. And of each of these last let them each bring their eldest Someones.”
“It is done,” Someone Always grabbed Someone Whipsmart’s hands in hers. “Go back now. Be with her.”
“I have one stop to make,” Someone Whipsmart said, for she would never ask of another Someone what she wouldn’t do herself.
Back through her lifting veil of Footlong Sticksects and to her own home on the finer sum third street of the Ninth District, and indeed she scooped all of her beads; those precious and those not; the ones she used to decorate her bedclothes, and curtains, and tapestries.
At her heels nipped her eldest little Someone, Someone Lovely, with similar steely determination.
So it was that all the Someones summoned assembled on the sum ninth street in the Ninth District, at the home of Someone Lonely. Inside the littlest Someone was to be born. They listened attentively to Someone Whipsmart as they she gave them instruction.
“Go you,” she pronounced, stepping lightly but shaking the ground, “Upon the roof of this house, flat as it is; stand at the edge with your little Someones, bearing heavy your beads, those precious and those not; the ones you use to decorate your bedclothes and curtains and tapestries.”
So the Someones so summoned, slight and otherwise, scaled the walls, their beads in their skirts, held tight in their teeth.
Inside, Someone Lonely, but not Someone Late, sat nervous and silent, careful to keep so, that the Something Scary would not hear the coming of the littlest Someone.
Yet Someone Whispmart did not ascend. Instead, with her biggest little Someone, the slight two-and-half aged Someone Lovely, she entered the home. She stood beside her dearest friend.
“Let the little Someone come,” she said to her friend, and with one voice the Sons of the Staff stayed silent.
Turning to her Someone Lovely, crouching down and with a strong smile known throughout the Ninth District of Itwa, she commanded, “Take my friend’s hand and when she asks, kiss her cheek. Do not let go, do not squirm, be strong little big one. Can you?”
And the little Lovely nodded and took her post.
And so her mother, with steps sure, stepped to the window. But nothing shook, so gently did she step.
Now it happened that the second sun, which shone on Itwa, but not on Litwa, rose through the clouds that gathered and gossiped at the summit of the SoTheyWere Mountains, and the second sun lit bright the streets of the Ninth District, into the rooms of the homes; and it was then that the Someone was being born.
The Sons of the Staff filed out to spread the word in whispers.
But as the light hit the littlest Someone’s eyes, the son of Someone Lonely and Someone Late, he began to wail: but before the wail could escape the walls, Someone Whipsmart threw open the window and let out her command:
And at that moment, the Someones so summoned let down their skirts; and raining down came their beads; those precious and those not; the ones used to decorate bedclothes, and curtains, and tapestries. And as they rained down, so the home was filled with a rainbow of colors as the light from the second sun bowed and reflected from the beads.
Their clattering filled the sum ninth street of the Ninth District, so that was all that was heard, the music of the chatter of beads. And the littlest Someone saw with his new eyes all of the colors of the rainbow, as he came to life in Itwa, and the home of Someone Lonely was a radiant kaleidoscope, shrouded in the song of clattering beads, bursting with light.
And the first to hold him, bathed in glittering bead green and bead red; and bead violet and bead orange; and even bead lapis lazuli, was the little Someone Lovely. And just as the little one was bathed in color, so was she, and so they would be forever bound in color.
And this is how our hero, Someone Scared, was born.