Nora’s First Published Fiction

My four-year-old daughter and I are seated at my desk. She’s curled up in a comfortable chair with a warm blanket on top of her. I’m at the keyboard. We’ve decided to write a story together,

“What should it be called?” she asks.

“I don’t know,” I say.

“I should name it The Doggy Who Was Lost in the Forest.”

“That sounds good,” I say. “So how does it begin?”

“Okay. I’m just writing in the letters here.” She scratches with a red marker on a piece of paper she’s holding. The paper is on a clipboard. “There,” she says. “I’ve got it dad.

“Beginning that day,” she continues, “everybody was at the celebration. We were all there, except Lila. She was always coming for dinners, but this day, she was all lost. But her dog was also lost in the forest. She knowed nothing to do, but she knowed a friend.  But all that day, it grew dark. And everybody in the world happened to be scared, except Lila. It was so dark and so stormy. She saw a creature called the Lila-taker, and that monster, her name was that because she wanted to take every kid whose name was Lila in the city. And it grew darker, and darker, and darker. All that day — once a year, every year they would all gather around the Lila tree to taste…”

“Don’t start telling the story of Trolls,” I say.

“It’s a little like,” she answers. “They wanted to taste true happiness.”

“No, not like Trolls. We’re not gonna tell the Trolls story. Let’s back up. So it grew darker and darker… Maybe you want to talk about her dog.”

“I don’t know how to make up any dog parts.”

“So what’s the dog’s name?”

“John,” she answers. “Yeah, I like this. You ask me questions about the dog, and then I’ll do it. Okay?”

“Okay. John is lost in the woods. What does he see?”

“He doesn’t see anything. He’s dead.”

“He’s dead?”


“Okaaaaay,” I say. “Tell me about the kitty that you mentioned at dinnertime.”

“Ask me questions about it.”

“What’s the kitty’s name?” I ask.


“And where is Stuart?” I ask.

“At home.”

“What’s he doing?”


“How does he figure into the story?”

“What does that mean?” she says.

“Well, you have Lila lost in the woods…”

“Lila’s not lost in the woods. She’s at the celebration.”

“Oh, right,” I answer. “Okay…soooo…you have Lila at the celebration, her dog is lost in the woods, and Stuart is sleeping at home, and there are Lila-takers….where are the Lila-takers?”

“In the truck.”

“In a truck?”

“In a truck with dogs.”

“Okay,” I say. “So what does Lila want?”

“Umm…a party.”

“But she’s at a party.”

“No,” she corrects me, “She’s at a celebration.”

“Who else is at the celebration?”

“Um…Lila’s parents, her cousins, Jayden…um…Maddie and Caleb.”

“And those are her cousins?” I ask.

“And Caleb, yeah.”

“What are they celebrating?”

“Don’t know exactly how to tell you this. Hmmm. A kitty.”


“They’re celebrating Stuart,” she says.

“Okay. So, you’ve Lila celebrating…is Stuart her kitty?”

“Stuart is Lila’s kitty.”

“And where are the Lila-takers?”

“I told you!,” she says. “In a truck! I already told you. Did you not know that?”

“I forgot. Sorry. So what happens in the story?”

“So the Lila-takers, they’re in a phone patch.”

“A phone patch?”

“Uh-huh. So they’re inside a phone.”

“Okay,” I say.

“And they all deserve to hug. To eat, to taste, and hug.”

“Is this Trolls again?”


“Okay, so what happens next?”

“They all…want…lots of Lilas, but there’s only just one Lila.”

“And then what?” I ask.

“Because…they…they…I mean…want Lilas and they really like Lilas.”

“So what do they do about it?”

“They kind of just hug. Do what do about what?”

“So we have the Lila-takers, Lila…”


“Aren’t the Lila-takers monsters?” I ask.

“There are monster Lila-takers and there are human Lila-takers. And dada?”


“What did I just say?”

“You said…um…we have Lila-takers that are monsters and that are not monsters…”



“Can we write a song too?”


“Right now?”


“That was the whole story. That’s a long story right? Now we can write a song, okay?”


“Um…I don’t…” She stands up and climbs onto my lap. “Dad, you have to erase all of that.”


“You have to! I didn’t mean that! It wasn’t in the story! Daddy, no!”

And that was the end of that.