I've got a five year old kid (sweet Jeebus, how did that happen!). Bedtime is usually Daddy time since I am lucky enough to get to spend all day with him but every Monday, it's just the kid and I at home. He sometimes asks for a "Mouth Story" for bedtime rather than a story book (Or both. He's cheeky) which isn't a problem because I can come up with a ridiculous story like the best of 'em. It's a bit like madlibs though, when he decides that what really needs to be in the story now is a football.
But then three weeks (or months) (or years) later, he wants it to be repeated. Which can be where things fall down. Yes, yes, I do remember telling a story about a chicken called Cluckzilla. I think she worked at a bakery? Maybe? No, wait, I'm getting that confused with Pete the Plain Pretzel. So tonight I'm writing one down, and maybe I will write more when the time/request/inclination/memory strikes.
Once upon a time there was a pig called Arthur. Arthur lived on a farm where all of the pigs had beautiful curly hair, but he had the horrible misfortune of being born completely bald. None of the other pigs liked to play with him, and as a matter of fact spent most of their time teasing him and in general making his poor little piggy life miserable.
Arthur decided that in order to get the other pigs to like him and be his friend, he needed lustrous locks like they had. He found the oldest and woolliest sheep on the farm and asked him how it was that he had gotten to be the great shaggy monarch that he was. The ram huffed and snorted and looked briefly offended but, taking pity on the poor bald pig, lowered his voice and softly baaed into his ear directions to a which who he had heard made a beautiful wig for his aunt's mother-in-law's hairdresser's son's gardener.
Arthur went straight back to the barn and packed a bag with his special glittery red bouncy ball and a hunk of cheese and, putting his coveringest of hats on his poor pink head, set off.
A few miles into his wig-for-a-pig quest, Arthur ran into a toad on the road. He was a very sad and droopy looking toad, and when Arthur stopped to enquire he learned that this poor toad, Hoppington, had lost his jump.
"You don't happen to have a spare bounce about you, have you?" He asked hopefully.
Now, Arthur had to think very long and very hard, because he did have his red sparkly bouncy ball in his bag, but it was a special bouncy ball. He had found it on a lovely sunny day and it reminded him of what good there could be on the farm. He really loved it very much and considered it his most prized possession. But! He also knew what it was like to be missing something that he really ought to have--curly hair. And he decided that the very least he could do for the toad was give him back his sproing, so that he could be like all the other toads. Arthur pulled his bouncy ball from his bag and gave it Hoppington, who was overjoyed and gave it a big hug and, holding on tightly, gave a few practice hops. He bounced even better than before! A happier toad had never been.
Hoppington decided that he would accompany Arthur on his way to the witch's castle and the two hop-hop pitter-pattered down the road. Not much farther down the lane they came upon a broken down bridge going over a slow-moving stream. It was not much of a challenge for our hero, who could swim as well as any pig, and of course Hoppington would have no problem, so the two made their way down to the water's edge and were just about to splash in when they heard a rustle in the grass behind them,
Out popped a tiny hedgehog, "Oh! Please! Help me! I'm being chased by a fox! Please can you help me to get across the water!"
Of course Hoppington and Arthur couldn't leave the hedgehog behind to be gobbled up by a fox! But he was so prickly when he tried to climb on Arthur's back that Arthur couldn't help but jump around and wiggle and they soon realized that there was no way the hedgehog, who was called Prickle Biscuit, could ride on Arthur's back.
Again, Arthur had to think very long and very hard, because it occurred to him that his biggest and floppiest and coveringest hat would, if turned upside down, make a particularly suitable hedgehog boat. But then! His new friends would be able to see that he didn't have any hair at all, and what would they think of him! A snap and a rustle in the bushes behind them made up his mind and his hat was off and in the stream before you could say 'fox!' He steered Prickle Biscuit's hat-boat across the water carefully and waited for the mocking to start, but none came. Prickle Biscuit decided to join Arthur and Hoppington on their quest for the witch and the three friends set off again.
The sun began to set and the trio found a cosy looking bit of woods just off of the road where they decided to snuggle up. They were just getting snuggled up and ready to doze when with an owl swooped down next to them and hooted,
"Oh, I am terribly sorry to bother you, but I am just ever so hungry. Please, please--don't you have anything to eat!"
Once more, Arthur had to think very long and very hard, because he knew that there was only enough cheese--delicious, delicious, cheese--for three. But he was a sturdy and rotund pig who could probably miss a meal or two without suffering any lasting consequences, and his friends were both quite little and this new owl was nothing but skin and bones. Arthur didn't think he could live with himself if he ate up all the cheese without sharing any with the owl, so he took out the cheese and shared it between Hoppington, Prickle Biscuit, and Ibelieveicanfly (which was the owl's name). His tummy rumbled one or twice but all in all he wasn't too upset with having to miss his dinner, and he was rewarded with another ally to travel with.
The next day the four new friends found the witch's castle with no fuss at all and Arthur hoped that getting the wig would be just as straight forward, but no such luck.
"If you want one of my wigs, which are the glossiest and thickest and piggiest in all the land, you will have to complete three tasks for me. But they're not tasks any pig can do, so you might as well turn around and go home Mr. Baldypants. You'll never catch the first firefly of the evening!"
Of course, Arthur had no chance of catching the first firefly of the night, and told his new friends as much. But Hoppington! Now, he was a toad who could catch any firefly, any time of the day or night, and he proceeded to do just that, and hand it off to Arthur.
The witch was surprised when Arthur returned with the firefly. "Very well," she said, "There is a rabbit warren outside and in the very deepest, darkest chamber, they keep all the soft, downy fur that they shed. You must bring me some of that fur."
Arthur went back out to his friends and sighed because he knew he would never fit in the tiny rabbit den. It turned out, however, that Prickle Biscuit fit in with no problem, and he was in and out in a flash. Arthur carefully carried the tiny pinch of fluff into the witch.
"Well! I can't say I expected to see you again! Fine. If I know one thing, it's that pigs can't fly. Deep in the darkest part of the forest, at the top of the tallest tree, is a golden pine cone. Bring it to me and you will have your wig."
Everyone knows that pigs can't fly, Arthur a well as as you and me, so he was ready to return to the farm wigless, but Ibelieveicanfly swooped into the night and returned with the shiny golden pine cone.
Arthur was overjoyed and rushed to the witch. She was shocked, but she kept her word, and produced for him the softest, the curliest, the gleemingest pig wig the world had ever seen.
And so the four friends set off for the farm. Arthur was almost bouncing with excitement at finally getting friends! Hoppington, Prickle Biscuit, and Ibelieveicanfly were all much more subdued. They were all feeling sad that Arthur didn't think that they were friends, and worried about what would happen when they got back to the farm.
Of course along the road on the way home, they came across a frantic field mouse. "Oh help me! Help me! My lady-mouse is about to have a baby and our house has been crushed by a passer-by and we need somewhere soft and warm and cosy for our baby or I don't even know what will happen!"
For the last time in this story, Arthur had to think very long and very hard. He had his beautiful new pig wig, which was certainly warm and soft and cosy and probably a perfect bed for a baby field mouse. But without his wig, he wouldn't have any friends! And wasn't that the whole reason that he had set off on this quest in the first place? But Arthur was a good and kind piggy at heart, and although it pained him, he took off his beautiful new wig and gave it away to the daddy mouse, so that the baby mouse could have somewhere warm and snuggly to live.
Arthur sat there on the side of the road and watched as the field mouse and his wig disappeared and felt very sad. He began to sniff and tears welled up in his eyes and before long he was crying very hard. "I just wanted a friend!" He wailed.
Of course it is obvious to you and me, and also to Hoppington, Prickle Biscuit, and Ibelieveicanfly, that Arthur already had made friends, but Arthur didn't see that because he had never had any friends before. After some hugs (not from Prickle Biscuit!) and some explanations, Arthur was brought around to see the truth in the matter, and it didn't matter to him any more whether he was bald or furry, and he and his three friends (or should I say six, because the field mice all became his friends as well and once helped him out of a tricky situation involving a bit of twine) lived happily ever after.