This is a very important short story for me. It’s a story I’ve always dreamed of writing. Because wherever I go, whatever I do (and whatever I write), this will always be the first story I wrote for my beautiful daughter.
Want to hear me read it aloud? Click below:
(Music and sound design by Jake Sanders)
Sally’s Big Night
Sally didn’t like having a bedtime.
Every night Mummy and Daddy would say ‘right, that’s it. Time for bed!’. And each night, they’d whisk her up in a storm of bubble bath, teeth brushing and dressing gowns until she was tucked away. Daddy would stay and read her a story, but then he and Mummy would disappear to have the rest of the evening to themselves.
This all seemed very unfair to Sally. If she had to go to bed, why didn’t they?
One night, Sally managed to sneak her way downstairs after Daddy finished reading. She followed him as he went, so that his loud footsteps covered the sound of hers on the stairs, so both her parents had no idea she was still up.
That was how she overheard Daddy tell Mummy that his favourite part of the day was when Sally went to bed.
‘I knew it!’ thought Sally. ‘It’s his favourite part, because he must save up all the fun stuff to do until I’m not there! But we’ll see about that…’. So Sally snuck back to bed, and started to come up with a plan…
The next morning, over a nice bowl of porridge, she made her parents an offer.
‘Mummy and Daddy, I’m basically a grownup now. I think that it’s about time I’m allowed to stay up late and see what you get up to when I’m asleep,’ she said with a nod.
She felt she had made her case very well. But Mummy and Daddy still told her no! Well that just wasn’t good enough. So she asked again. And again. And again. Nothing. So she asked again, and again and again, and again and, eventually, Mummy made Sally an offer.
‘You can stay up with us tonight,’ Mummy said.
‘Yes!’ yelled Sally.
‘But,’ said Mummy, ‘you have to do everything we do. You can’t watch the telly or play with toys. If you want to be a grown up with us, you have to be a grown up with us.’
Sally thought about what Daddy had said about it being the best time of his day. Of course doing what they did was OK with her – that was the whole point! So she agreed.
Nighttime rolled around. They’d had dinner, so normally that would mean a bedtime soon. But not tonight! Sally was almost too excited to feel even the least bit sleepy. OK, she felt a very little bit sleepy, but only a little!
‘So what are we going to do first?’ Sally asked Mummy.
‘Well, the same thing we do every night when you go to bed. We’ll do the washing up,’ said Mummy. ‘You get a tea towel, and you can help Daddy with the drying’.
‘But that’s… boring,’ said Sally.
‘You wanted to be a grown up with us didn’t you? Well, this is what we have to do. How did you think all the dishes got clean?’
Sally had never really thought about it to be honest… the dishes had always, sort of, taken care of themselves. But she just reminded herself, once they got that out of the way, she’d see what they really get up to.
So a short while (and a lot of bubbles) later, they were finally done.
‘Great! Now what?’ asked Sally.
‘Now, we make the packed lunches for tomorrow,’ said Daddy.
‘Make the lunches?!’ asked Sally. ‘But that’s boring too!’
‘But how did you think all the lunches got made?’ asked Daddy.
And so they made the sandwiches.
But that wasn’t all.
After that, they had to clean the kitchen. Sweep the floor. Take out the bins. It was all a lot, and took ages. By the time it was done it was getting late and Sally was very, very tired (but she refused to admit that to her parents).
Then they moved into the front room. ‘Finally,’ Sally thought, ‘I’m going to be able to see all the fun they have!’
But it wasn’t fun. Next they dusted. They vacuumed. They tidied away toys. More and more time passed, and Sally still had no idea when it would all end.
Sally was so tired. So, so tired. But the housework kept coming. Chores, and chores, and chores. That was, until…
‘I want to go to bed!’ yelled Sally, ‘but I can’t until we get to the best bit!’.
‘What best bit, Sally?’ asked Mummy.
‘Last night, I snuck out of bed and followed Daddy downstairs. I know I shouldn’t have, but I heard him say to you that the best bit of his night is when I’ve gone to bed!’
Daddy laughed, and gave Sally a big, big hug. ‘Oh no, silly. My favourite part of the day isn’t what happens after you’re in bed. It’s when you go to bed, because that’s when I get to do the most important job of all,’ said Daddy.
‘Oh not, not another job…’ said Sally.
‘Afraid so, but I think you’ll like this one.’
And with that, Daddy picked Sally up, and carried her off to bed. He put her down, tucked her in, and pulled a big story book off the shelf.
Sally was asleep before Daddy even started reading. But Daddy just smiled, and read the story anyway. After all, it was his favourite part of the day.