[This is part one of story three of THE FICTION PROJECT; See Vol 9 John 10]
When I was a little girl my stepfather disappeared and didn't come back for several months. Even after he returned, there was a tension in the air that I could not understand. He was a tall man who loved to carry me on his shoulders and toss me in the air, but he had sad brown eyes that made him seem a million miles away. My mother had blue eyes, but by chance my eyes were colored just like his. I loved him very much.
One night he and my mother had a fight and when he came upstairs to tuck me in, his head was bowed as if there was something very heavy inside.
"I have a story," he said.
"What kind of story?"
"A FAIRY story!" And he said it with an exclamation mark as if he was saying "A pot FULL of gold!" or "A sky FULL of stars!"
"Mommy says that fairy stories are just pretend."
"Oh no. Fairy stories are the truest kind of story. Fairy stories are about things so important they won't fit inside a normal story."
"Do you believe in them?"
"My heart does. But don't tell your mother."
I think the reason I liked him so much was that he treated me like his best friend. I got the feeling we were always sharing secrets.
"This particular story begins at the edge of an ocean. Have you ever seen an ocean?"
I shook my head.
"An ocean is the biggest thing in the world. It's bigger than cities at night and bigger than great green forests. Oceans have mountains inside them that no one ever sees! And they are made out of water that never stops moving. An ocean is gray like iron, and green with white sand underneath and bluer than the sky with white horses blowing through it.
"And an ocean tastes just like tears and deep inside there are clouds of fish: silver and gold and orange and lemon with blueberry stripes and raspberry speckles and spots made out of colors so strange they don't even have names. And some of the fish are tiny as bubbles and some are like slippery blue houses.
"No one can say what lies at the bottom of an ocean. People can ride on the top of it in funny little boats and look down on it from the edge of a cliff. But they can never see more than a tiny part of it because an ocean is the biggest thing in the world."
All of this sounded highly unlikely but he said it with such conviction that I could almost believe him. So I snuggled down under the covers and he began his story.
[Editor's note: Stay tuned for part two!]