Friday, July 31, 2015


Last night I awoke to Geneva's thick brown hair in my face. She was burrowing into me like a baby hunting for milk, murmuring about bad dreams. She asked if she could stay, and I held her in our crowded bed until morning, when she turned to me abruptly and asked "are ghouls real?" "No, sweetie, ghouls aren't real. They're creatures from stories, and sometimes scary stories are fun, but they're just made-up." "I dreamed I met one," she told me solemnly. "His name was Gardy and he was Not Nice."

After swimming lessons, as we were writing in our journals, Geneva began to tell me more about Gardy. About how he tricked people into getting hurt, about how he helped other bad buys commit acts of mischief, and about how he really seemed to have it in for our family. In her journal Geneva wrote about Gardy's misdeeds, and as she talked to me about her nightmare the story started to change. Another ghoul appeared, a ghoul named Goody, who defended the family from Gardy and other dangerous creatures. Then came another ghoul with cotton-candy pink hair whose job it was to do nice, helpful things for others. Yet another ghoul disguised herself as a bad guy and went undercover to spy on the nasties who were having a meeting under our dining room table. Lavender, who was listening intently, created her own ghoul who could rescue anyone who had been kidnapped. Together they drew pictures of their ghouls, then ran off to be heroes.

Everyone has nightmares. Everyone. Why do we forget that our power comes not from waking but from changing the story?

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