Every night Ella’s dad would read her a bedtime story and always change the ending to And We Lived Happily Ever After. She’d be almost asleep when he’d whisper, “goodnight my girl, dream sweetly,” grabbing her blanketed toe on his way out of her room. Ella would fall asleep smiling.
But that was before Ella’s dad moved out. Before their happily ever afters no longer coincided as a family. At first, Ella had trouble falling asleep but she has since found a way to be her own fairy tale. At bedtime, she picks out a story and places it next to her in case her dad stops by to visit. She takes jawbreakers from her nightstand, only sucking on them long enough until they lose their color. Ella’s mouth is a tie-dyed lollipop; the colors a portal for magical powers that let her live in a nighttime rainbow. She giggles while placing each translucent ball in her special box thinking she has captured a box of stars beneath the bed. Ella’s eyes grow heavy watching the remaining sugar shimmer under the glow of her nightlight. She dreams of running through orange groves and swimming in blue lagoons, watching red pandas and purple people eaters play. Pink peonies spring to life as she meets green goblins while walking down a fabled yellow brick road. Somewhere from a distance, riding a glittery breeze, is her dad’s voice. Sleep is a beautiful colour.