bedtime (short) story 2

i haven’t written any stories for a while, but now seems like a nice time to start again.

this is a story i often joke about with my husband. when i first found out what pesukarhu means in Finnish (= raccoon), the name made me giggle. because pesu in Finnish means wash, and karhu means bear. so basically a raccoon means washy bear. that was what first gave us the idea of this joke story. however, in my story, Pesukarhu is a bear, not a raccoon. 😀 hope that’s not too confusing!

meanwhile, kura means mud. since there is no animal in Finnish that has kura as a name (and in Indonesian kura-kura means turtle, ha! but i’m saving the turtle for another adventure), i just made it up as a name for a dog (= koira), obviously playing with the letters a bit, k and r.

so, this is my second attempt to write a children’s story, and since i had an extra time i even made simple illustrations to accompany it.

ladies, gentlemen, and babies, let’s meet: Pesukarhu & Kurakoira.

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Behind a faraway forest, in a small village, a washy bear named Pesukarhu lives. He likes to wash and clean everything he sees; he cleans his own mess, his family’s, his neighbours’, his friends’, and then it’s time to clean his own mess already again. His life is so full of cleaning!

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He cleans so much that those around him start to complain.

“When Pesukarhu was a baby, I used to have many things to do, because I was the one who cleaned everything,” Pesukarhu’s mother complains to a neighbour. “Now I barely have anything to do because he cleans everything! My life has never been this boring!”

“Tell me about it,” the neighbour rolls her eyes. “Sometimes I have just started to eat and already Pesukarhu comes to our house to wash the dishes. Doesn’t he have anything better to do?”

“This has really got to stop,” says a friend of Pesukarhu, who has lately become irritated by him. “Whenever I meet up with him for fun, he would always just end up ignoring me and start cleaning up the road. I think he’s addicted to cleaning, and I don’t know how to make him realize it.”

It is not long until the unpleasant news reaches Pesukarhu’s own ears. They all want him to stop his cleaning addiction, otherwise he will get evicted from the village.

Pesukarhu tries his best. In the morning he lets his mother clean the windows. But when she misses a spot, he quickly wipes it clean, and before he knows it, he ends up doing all the cleaning again, making his mother fold her hands and thumping her foot impatiently.

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Feeling ashamed of himself, he goes to his neighbour’s house. The neighbour sees him from the window, looking so sad and down. Even when she is annoyed by what Pesukarhu does, she still feels sorry for seeing him sad. So she invites him in for lunch.

Pesukarhu gladly accepts the invitation and tries really hard to stop himself from cleaning the kitchen while his neighbour prepares the lunch. Everything goes well while they eat lunch together, and the neighbour actually starts to become hopeful that maybe Pesukarhu can stop his super-cleaning habit after all.

But when the neighbour accidentally knocks down her drinking glass, Pesukarhu cannot hold it back any longer and jumps to clean it… along with the rest of the floor of the whole house. And the kitchen which he has been itching to clean. All the neighbour can do is let out a deep sigh.

Now feeling even more guilty than ever, Pesukarhu apologizes and runs out from the door. He is beginning to believe that he will really be banished from the village, never to return. But what can he do? Just then he hears somebody calling his name.

“Pesukarhu,” it turns out to be one of his friends who notices him walking alone. “Come join us for ice cream!” the friend says.

Instantly, Pesukarhu’s eyes lit up. Ice cream, who doesn’t like it? He nods to his friends and together they walk to the ice cream kiosk. They start talking about things, and for a moment Pesukarhu starts to think that maybe things are not as bad as he thought. But that is only until they reach the ice cream kiosk and see a little piglet eating an ice cream cone… and as he does so, the melted ice cream starts to drip to the floor.

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Suddenly Pesukarhu cannot take it anymore. He desperately wants to clean the mess, but he knows that once he starts doing that, he won’t be able to stop himself from cleaning the rest of the kiosk. His addiction cannot be stopped. He is sure of it now.

So he excuses himself from his friends and the ice cream kiosk. Before anyone can evict him, Pesukarhu decides to leave the village. It must be better that way.

He leaves in a hurry, before anything else can change his mind, or worse… before he starts cleaning something again. He walks to the direction of the forest, not really knowing where to go or where to stay.

As he enters the forest, he realizes that he may just like it there. Back in the village, Pesukarhu can always spot the uncleanliness among the clean. But in the wild nature, it is different. Sure, there is the ground, mud, and anything else that can be seen as dirty, but they are where they belong. As long as Pesukarhu gets himself cleaned, he is fine with this condition.

Although… after a few hours of not cleaning, Pesukarhu begins to feel different. He is bored… and now he knows what the others at the village must feel when he does all the cleaning. And thinking of them makes him feel lonely. If he is going to live in the forest from now on, who is he going to talk to? Without any cleaning, what is he going to do?

Pesukarhu goes to a river bank and sits down, feeling sad once again. All of a sudden, he hears a bark.

A bark?

Pesukarhu tries to see where it comes from, but all he sees are rocks and trees.

“Woof!”

There it goes again! Now Pesukarhu knows exactly where it comes from. Except that it is impossible, for it looks like a big brown rock was the one who barked. A big brown rock… with a wagging tail.

“Hello?” Pesukarhu greets it, feeling unsure. Maybe he has completely lost his mind.

“Woof, woof!” the rock wags its tail happily. Pesukarhu can actually see its mouth when it barks, which is a relief, because now, finally, he understands it.

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“Come here, doggy!” he calls to the dog. The dog, formerly known as the brown rock, comes closer and greets Pesukarhu excitedly.

Incredible. The dog is so filthy that Pesukarhu at first thought it was a rock. Now from up close, Pesukarhu can see that it is just a normal dog. And a very dirty one as well.

Being a washy bear as he is, Pesukarhu immediately washes the dog with the water from the river. He feels useful once again as soon as he is done cleaning the dog.

“Where did you come from, doggy?” asks Pesukarhu, not expecting it to answer. As he brushes the dog’s fur, he notices that the dog wears a collar. Attached to the collar, is a letter.

Pesukarhu opens it and reads it, and meanwhile the dog is already playing in the mud again.

“To whom it may concern,” the letter starts, “the name of this dog is Kura, and it is named so because its hobby is to play in the mud, garbage bins, and any other dirty place you can imagine. It is with heavy heart that we decided to let it go, because although it is a sweet dog, we cannot keep bathing it every 5 minutes. We hope it will bring you joy.”

Pesukarhu looks up from the letter, and sure enough, Kura is already as dirty as when he first saw him. But instead of getting angry, Pesukarhu smiles. He has a feeling that he and Kura can be best friends.

And so it goes, that Pesukarhu cleans up whatever Kura does, and Kura makes himself (and Pesukarhu) dirty again so that Pesukarhu never runs out of something to do. And the best thing is that none of them is ever tired of the other one. They keep each other happy by just being themselves.

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When he feels ready, Pesukarhu goes back to the village, bringing Kura with him. He apologizes to everyone for what he did before, promising that he has changed because of Kura. Though everybody is sceptic at first that he can really change, they soon see that taking care of Kura–er, or rather, cleaning it–takes almost all of Pesukarhu’s time that he barely has time to clean anything else, and they begin to see that the washy bear and the muddy dog are really meant for each other.

The whole villagers live in peace and harmony ever since, and Pesukarhu and Kura continues to fulfill each other’s lives.

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note: the fiction is 70% written by me, Sax Silverain, and 30% by my husband. the illustration is 100% drawn by me. and i admit, i can’t draw animals. 

bedtime (short) story

i’ve missed writing for the past few weeks. no matter how much i want to write a new one, i just still feel the ache of letting go of my last one.

but one day i was struck with a sudden inspiration… and so i decided to write it down in a short story.

this is my first attempt to write a… er… fairy tale, or bedtime story, i suppose. 🙂 it’s not very logical, and of course, there’s no complicated plot or whatever, but it was still fun to write (and re-read).

so, here it is, “Lily and Her Dream”. 🙂

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Mrs. Duck finishes drinking the water from the small river near her nest, and realizes that the sun is almost completely set. Goodness, she thinks, how quickly time passes when one’s taking care of 6 small ducklings at a time. She starts calling for them, and one by one, they come closer to her. One, two, three, four, five… wait, let’s count that again: one, two, three, four, five….

Mrs. Duck sighs (and out comes a long quack). She knows exactly who’s missing from the pack. Every night since she hatched from the tiny little egg, she always sneaks out far away from the rest of them, and comes back when everyone is already half asleep. Mrs. Duck starts to gibber in small quacks, as it is how ducks mumble and grumble.

“The rest of you, get inside our nest! I’ll go find her,” she says to her children as she prepares herself to leave them, and risk getting them all eaten by some wild beast, just like she has for the past two weeks.

But before she manages to set her foot an inch further, she sees the duckling she is looking for. “Lily!” Mrs. Duck quacks loudly. “Where in the world have you been? Don’t tell me you’ve been sneaking in to those humans’ farm again!”

The small yellow duckling’s feathers shake a bit when she sees her angry mother, but she answers, “I… well, yes, I did, but they didn’t see me, Mother! I swear!”

Mrs. Duck will hear nothing of it. She herds her youngest duckling to their nest even when she chirps with her squeaky voice, “I just like hearing the bedtime stories the humans tell their children. You don’t tell us stories before going to sleep, Mother.”

“Lily,” Mrs. Duck starts as she pushes Lily up to their nest. “We are NOT humans, we don’t NEED bedtime stories. We fall asleep as soon as the sun sets, you know that.”

“Yes, but…,” Lily tries to stifle a yawn, just so that her mother won’t immediately prove herself right. “… I like the stories. Tonight’s story was the best! It’s about a swan who can turn into a human girl, but she was cursed, so she needs to find a true love who can break the curse! It’s the most romantic story I’ve ever heard! Do you think we can also turn into humans if one of them tells us he loves us, Mother?“

“Hush now!” Mrs. Duck can’t stand it anymore. She plumps herself next to her children, and looks at Lily in the eyes. “Now you listen to me, young duckling! We are ducks, we have always been, and we will always be. Nobody has cursed us, and no matter how many times a human being tells us he loves us, or no matter how big of love a human being has for us, we will NOT turn into humans. They love us because they love to eat us! Some of them may love us as pets, but that’s as far as it goes.”

Mrs. Duck sees her child’s eyes start to be a bit misty, but she has run out of ideas on how to bring some sense into her. She must prepare her for her adult life, after all, where hunters will hunt her, and farmers will want her eggs, take everything they can from her and give her none.

“Now close your eyes, and forget about the stories. We’re not even swans to begin with, we’re ducks. There’s no point in dreaming to become a human,” Mrs. Duck ends the conversation with one last meaningful look at Lily.

The yellow duckling finally looks down and mutters, “Okay, Mother.” Slowly and silently she closes her eyes to sleep. But inside, she doesn’t give up her dream.

Not even one and a half years later, when it’s unfortunately the duck season. Lily’s all grown up now, and her mother has long left her and all her siblings to live on their own. Her first mating time has passed, but she was too busy concentrating to find food for herself and didn’t have time to look for a mating partner.

So now she’s running away from hunters. It’s actually a good thing she didn’t mate with anyone, because if she has ducklings by now, she would have a hard time running away from the hunters and trying to save her children at the same time.

Nonetheless, now she knows what her mother meant about humans wanting her. This realization hits her as she ducks from a bullet that suddenly came at her out of nowhere when she was just about to fly to the nearest river to eat.

She flies low to hide behind the trees, and that’s when she spots a well. She flies as fast as she can towards it, thinking that she can at least get a bit of water from the well, and maybe there will also be some insects in the water that she can eat.

She manages to fall inside the well just as she hears another bullet flies through right above her. And then… it goes very, very dark. And why does it feel so small here? She could have sworn the well seemed big enough for a small duck like her.

SPLASH! She has reached the end of the well, and man, did that hurt her back. That’s never happened before to her, usually she could gracefully land on top of any water surface, but just now it seemed as if her body’s too heavy to move gracefully. How is that possible, for she is just a mere duck?

Little did Lily know that the well is no normal well. It’s a wishing well.

And I’m sure you know what she was thinking just when she flew into the well?

The dream that she never gives up from her ducklinghood: I wish I could turn into a human.

But of course Lily doesn’t know all this, she only sees above her a human looking in to the well where she is right now. A male human, who looks about as young as herself in her duck years.

“Ha, I got you now!” the male human says. But his face turns to shock when he sees Lily, in her new figure, inside the well. He quickly pulls his head away from the well and clears his throat, “Uh, sorry, Miss. Are you… uh, are you okay?”

‘Miss’? What in the world is he talking about, Lily wonders. She looks down to find the water to drink, but oh, now she sees human legs and human feet under herself! She jumps from her own surprise, thinking that she has landed on top of a human body, but the legs and feet move with her, and hey, they ARE hers.

She’s so puzzled but she decides to talk back to the male human. “Um… help?” It sounds funny, she thinks, to hear herself in human voice.

But the male human is kind. He throws her a rope to get her out of the well, and even gives her his coat to cover herself with. He doesn’t ask how she ended up in the well, but asks whether or not she has seen a duck that went into the well.

When Lily says no (which is half true, for she hasn’t seen one… she WAS one herself), the male human looks so sad that Lily instantly remembers what her mother told her. He’s not ever going to declare his love to her, is he? Because he only wants to eat the duck. He wants to eat HER.

But the male human suddenly says in shame, “I’m sorry, I can’t provide you with anything else other than a shelter and that coat. I’m a man who can’t hunt, for I have been trying to catch anything and everything I could, but never succeeds. I can’t even get a small duck to feed myself, how can I even dream to give you something to eat?”

Lily looks at him. He reminds her of her mother and now it’s her turn to say to him, “There is plenty more to life than hunting. I can teach you how to catch fish, and make food from vegetables, if you’d give up hunting. But you should never give up your dream. Because one day, it might just come true.”

And so it is that the man gives up hunting for good (and gives up eating meat, too) and gets Lily to teach him how to fish and eat vegetables. Just as Lily said, one day, his dream comes true, and he is able to provide Lily with things to eat, and with all the time they spent together, helping each other, grows love between the two of them.

Unlike in other fairy tales, Lily doesn’t turn back into a duck, but stays as a human and stays on the man’s side. They live happily ever after.

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note: the fiction is 100% written by me, Sax Silverain (highly influenced by Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Hans C. Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling).