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November 09, 2003

Ngnat's Bedtime Story: Version 2.0

I've wanted to play with Ngnat's bedtime story since I wrote it, as to my mind there were several areas that needed redoing, or at least a bit of narrative added. You can see the original draft here.

--------------------

Once upon a time there was a little girl. Her name was Ngnat, and she lived in a yellow house with her mommy, her daddy, her brother Scotty and her three kitties; Hissy, Toby and Grey.

Ngnat had been a little girl all of her life. She was a little girl when she got out of bed in the morning, and a little girl when she went to bed at night. Which is good, because she liked being a little girl, most of the time.

But sometimes she didn't like being a little girl, like the day she had to sit in time-out for an entire hour after coloring Scotty, or the night when Mommy and Daddy made her go to bed early because she wouldn't eat any of the Brussels sprouts her grandmother had made especially for her.

When Ngnat stomped her foot and asked why she had to go to bed early, or shouted that it wasn't fair that she had to sit in time-out, her parents would look at her and say;

"You are our little girl, and as long as you are a little girl, what we say goes."

Then Ngnat would stomp her foot and shout at the same time. "You just wait!" she would yell. "One day I won't be a little girl anymore, and then I'll show you!"

"We know," said her parents. "Believe us, we know." And then they would giggle, just a little.

The giggle made Ngnat even angrier. She would stomp up the stairs and lay face down on her bed with her arms at her side and her hands clenched into fists, as stiff as a board and as mad as a wet hen.

"One day," she would mutter into her pillow. "One day, one day, one day, one day, ONE DAY!"

And so, one day, when she woke up, do you know what happened? Instead of hands, Ngnat had a pair of paws! Instead of feet, Ngnat had another pair of paws! Instead of a bottom, Ngnat had a tail, and it swished back and forth, back and forth as she watched it. It took Ngnat a minute or two to realize what had happened, because she thought she was still dreaming. But Ngnat was not dreaming, and she was no longer a little girl.

Ngnat had turned into a kitty!

"Mommy, Daddy," Ngnat tried to call out. But the only thing that came out of her mouth was "Me-ow, Me-ow."

It was early in the morning, so Ngnat's Mommy and Daddy were still asleep. They never got up before Ngnat, the lazy things.

Ngnat went into Mommy and Daddy's bedroom to wake them up, but when she tried to say "Mommy, come downstairs with me!" the only thing that came out of her mouth was "Me-ow, Me-ow."

"Oo-oo, oo-oo!" said Ngnat's mommy, without opening her eyes. She rolled over.

"MOMMY, GET UP!" yelled Ngnat. But the only thing that came out of her mouth was an extra loud "ME-OWWWWW!"

"Oo-oo, ooo-OO!," said her father, without opening his eyes. Then he threw a pillow at Ngnat.

The pillow missed, but Ngnat ran out of the room. How dare her father throw a pillow at her! She was very sad. Then she was very surprised, for as she ran around the corner and out of the bedroom she ran right into her three kittys!

Hissy, Toby and Grey had been eating first breakfast when they heard Ngnat trying to wake up her mommy and daddy, and a strange cat meowing upstairs in their house was much more important than the dry food in their bowls.

"Who are you?" hissed Hissy, the youngest and smallest of Ngnat's kitties, pulling at the carpet with her claws. "Don't you know any better than come into a person's house without asking?"

Now, when Hissy talked, it sounded like "Me-ow, Me-ow!" But since Ngnat was a kitty, she understood Hissy better than when she was still a little girl.

"I'm Ngnat," wailed Ngnat.

"You're not Ngnat," said Hissy. "Ngnat is the little girl who chases me up and down the stairs all day." Hissy sat down and started to lick her tail. "Besides, you can talk, and she can't. She just makes monkey noises. 'Oo-oo, oo-oo,' all day long.

"But I am Ngnat, " insisted Ngnat.

"You're not Ngnat," said Grey, the next biggest and next oldest kitty. "Ngnat is the little girl who pulls my tail when I try to take a nap on the ottoman." Grey yawned, showing her white teeth. "Beside, you smell like a cat. Ngnat smells like crayons and peanut butter."

"Hush," said Toby, the biggest and oldest kitty. He was almost as big as Ngnat back when she was a little girl, and he was certainly older than Ngnat. "There are more things on heaven and earth than you could possibly know, sisters, and little girls who turn into cats are quite the least of them. In any case, it is simplicity itself to find out." He looked at Ngnat, running his pink tongue over his black whiskers. "What do you do when I am outside and want to get in?"

"I...I open the door?" asked Ngnat.

"And what do you do when I am inside and want to go out?" Toby continued.

"I open the door!" said Ngnat.

"That's a lie!" hissed Hissy. "There's no cat in the world can open a door."

"But there are plenty of little girls in the world who can open a door," said Toby. "So this must be one after all."

"Well," said Grey. "You do smell a little peanut-buttery. Maybe I should bite you for all the times you pulled my tail."

"And you certainly sound something like a monkey," sniffed Hissy. "I'd like to see you try and chase me up and down the stairs now! I'd give you a swat you wouldn't soon forget!"

This was the last straw, for Ngnat was already upset. She coudn't talk to her Mommy, her Daddy had thrown a pillow at her, and now her kitties were mad at her. "I don't want to to be bitten," she wailed, "and I don't want to be swatted!"

"Shush, kitten, " said Toby. "No one is going to do either. The important thing," he continued, looking at the other two cats, "is that you turn back into a little girl as soon as possible. Otherwise your parents will spend all morning looking for you, and there will be no one to give us second breakfast."

"Oh, no!" said Hissy and Grey.

"And we shall have to share the sunny spot on the couch," Toby continued.

"Oh, dear!" moaned Hissy and Grey.

"And," Toby paused for effect, for cats are naturally dramatic, "we shall have to let her go to the bathroom in our litter box."

"The horror! The absolute horror of it all," yowled Hissy and Grey, one after the other. "Let's turn her back into a little girl as soon as possible!"

"Oo-oo, Oo-Oo, OO-OOO!" gibbered Ngnat's daddy from inside the bedroom. Another pillow sailed through the door. Though it landed nowhere near Ngnat and the other cats, they walked away from the open door anyway.

"One day I am going to give that smelly ape such a scratching," said Hissy, tail jerking in the air behind her.

"He's not so bad," said Grey. "He gave me a shrimp, once."

"Hush," said Toby. "We've got more important things to do the debate the Ape." He looked at Ngnat. "What was the last thing you remember from before you were a cat, little one?"

"Well," said Ngnat. "I was in my bed, and it was night time, and I was sleepy."

"When you fell asleep, " asked Grey, "what did you dream about?"

"I dreamed that, that, that I was a chasing a mouse." said Ngnat.

"Ahhhhhh," said all three cats together. "You had a cat dream."

"When you have a cat dream," Toby explained to Ngnat, "if you wake up in the middle of it, you are a cat. If you have a dog dream and wake up in the middle of it, you wake up as a dog."

"Disgusting!" spit Hissy.

"All that slobber," said Grey. "Great ropes of slobber, hanging from your mouth all day. I would just die!"

"Did you ever wake up as a doggie?" Ngnat asked Toby, sniffing.

Grey and Hissy stopped in their tracks, a shocked looked on their faces. Then they fell to the floor and rolled around, laughing.

"Ah-Huck! Ah-huck! Ah-huck!" laughed Hissy and Grey. Ngnat had never heard cats laugh. It sounded like hairballs.

Toby looked at the two rolling on the floor. "Would you like to hear a story about the kittens who got stuck in a toilet?" he politely asked Ngnat.

Ngnat was about to say "Yes, please," but Hissy and Grey had suddenly stopped laughing. They were instead licking their paws and combing their ears, acting for all the world as if they had been doing so for hours.

Toby turned his attention back to Ngnat and told her, in a kind voice, as if he were talking to a very small cat indeed, that he had never woken up as a doggie. Nor had any cat.

"Cats never dream of being anything else," he said. "What's better than being a cat?"

Grey looked up from her paw. "What you need to do is to go back to sleep, " she said. "You need to go back to sleep, and dream little girl dreams, whatever they are. What do little girls dream of?"

"Stairs and tails," said Hissy, tartly.

"Um...." Ngnat thought for a moment. "Tea parties? And scissors? Sometimes I dream about bears."

"Not bears!" Toby interjected. "Dreaming about bears would be a bad idea today, I think. Stick with the first two."

So Ngnat tiptoed into her room on her little cat feet, accompanied by Toby and Grey and Hissy. She jumped into her bed, walked around a circle and lay down to sleep with her tail curled over her eyes.

"Good night, monkey." said Hissy. "Dream about scissors."

"And tea parties.," added Grey.

"Not bears!" Toby looked at her hard. "No bear dreams."

And with that, Ngnat fell asleep, for cats can go to sleep whenever they want. When she woke up again, it was late in the morning, and her Mommy and Daddy were downstairs drinking coffee, and Ngnat was a little girl again.

"Hi, bedhead," said Daddy as Ngnat walked into the kitchen, rubbing the sleep out her eyes.

"Good morning, honey," said Mommy. "Would you like some juice?"

"I was a kitty," Ngnat told Mommy and Daddy.

"That's nice," said Daddy, reading his paper.

"That's nice," said Mommy, pouring the juice.

Ngnat saw Toby, Hissy and Grey in the corner, eating second breakfast. She walked over to them.

"Thank you, kitties," said Ngnat, "for helping me turn back into a little girl again."

"Me-ow," said Toby and Hissy and Grey.

That day, for the first time since Ngnat had learned to walk, Grey slept on the ottoman without her tail being pulled, and Hissy was able to go up and down the stairs at her leisure.

And Ngnat let Toby in and out of the door when he meowed, just like she always did.

Posted by Bigwig at November 9, 2003 10:14 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
Comments

If you can find a halfway decent illustrator, I should think that would be publishable. It's definitely better than more than half the crap in my wife's classroom.

Posted by: Kevin at November 10, 2003 12:14 AM
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