Let it out

This one is a story I heard my husband telling my youngest daughter.  Short and sweet and not my own, but too charming not to write down and pass along.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived alone with her father.  She was a sweet girl who loved her father and helped him around the house, and everyone loved her and thought how beautiful and kind she was.  There was only one thing in the world this little girl loved (besides her father).  Stories.  In the morning when she woke up, she would ask her father for a story and listen with shining eyes.  At noon, when she served his lunch, she would ask for a story and listen while she went about her work.  At dinner time, she would ask for a story at the table and listen so hard she forgot about her food.  At bedtime, she would ask for a story and listen with rapt attention.

Many times her father, worn out from a long day of working in his shop, would ask the little girl to tell him a story instead asking for a new one, but she always replied, “No, father, I couldn’t.  Your stories are so wonderful.  You must do the telling.”  And she was so sweet and beautiful that he would put aside his weariness and tell her yet another story.

Well, things went on this way for a very long time, and it came about that both father and daughter began to notice something strange.  The little girl’s head was getting bigger.  At first it was just a little bigger, so that you could hardly notice it if you did not know her very well.  They thought nothing of it.  Little girls do, after all, grow up.  But her head was growing up much faster than the rest of her.  In time, it had swelled enough that even strangers would notice it.  The little girl was still very beautiful, so people mostly didn’t comment on it, but the little girl herself began to feel a bit worried.  Day after day and night after night, her head grew and grew and grew, until one day the most awful thing happened.

The little girl floated right up off the ground.

Floating off the ground might sound sort of fun, but it is very scary if you don’t know why it is happened and you cannot make it stop.  Unfortunately, the little girl had been outside picking flowers when the floating began, so there was really nothing to stop her going up and up and up.  As she floated past the apple tree, she grabbed hold of the topmost branches and held on for dear life.  That is where her father found her when he came home from his work.

A shouted conversation explained what had happened and her father began to climb the tree to fetch her down.

“Father, I’m so scared,” she said as he climbed.  “Please tell me a story to calm me down as I wait here.”

So he began to tell her a story, and as he did, her head swelled even more.  It swelled so much that she could not longer hold onto the branch, but was tugged free and began to float up into the sky.

“Daughter,” her father called.  “It is the stories!  You must let them out.  Tell me a story, daughter.  Tell me a story.”

And so she did.  Right there in the air as she drifted over the tree tops, she told all the stories she could think of.  Stories of pirates and dragons, of princesses and gypsies, of talking bears and crying flowers came pouring out of her mouth.  And as she talked, her head slowly shrank back to a normal size and she drifted down, down, until her feet were resting on the ground.  Now that she had started, she could not stop, though.  She talked and talked even as her father carried her home and tucked her up by the fire.  She talked and talked until all the stories in her head were finally out.  It was the best night of her father’s life.

Nothing ever changed how much the little girl loved stories.  In fact, her little adventure made a very good story itself.  But even though she still asked her father for stories every day, she would always take her turn telling the ones she had thought of when she was alone.  And the two of them lived very happily ever after.

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