“Tell you a story?” Vinny repeated. He tilted his face to the ceiling and hummed to himself.
“Come on, Grandpa, please?” Lily begged. She sat up in her bed folding her hands together jutting her bottom lip out into a pout.
“Once upon a time,” Vinny began, “there was a little girl named Lily who refused to go to sleep.”
“No, a real story!” Lily protested through her giggles.
“That is a real story. You’re Lily, you’re a little girl, and you won’t go to sleep for me. What’s your mother and father going to think when they come home to see their six-year-old still awake at such an hour?” Vinny replied.
“You know what I mean, Grandpa.”
“Alright, alright, lie down.” Vinny said giving Lily a gentle push. She fell back onto her pillow laughing.
Vinny cleared his throat. “Once upon a time there was a young girl name Lily.”
“Hush, I’m telling a story.” Vinny said then hummed to himself again. “She lived in a large castle where she could roam around and do anything she ever wanted. She could play with her toys all day long–”
“And never have to go to school?!” Lily said excitedly jumping up in her bed again.
“Sure, she never had to go to school,” Vinny agreed pushing her back down. “One day, however, she became bored.”
“Lily didn’t have anyone to play with because she never attended school. She had no friends.” Vinny said stumbling through his words. He hoped his granddaughter couldn’t tell that he was making this up by the seat of his pants – especially since he used her idea against her.
“I have friends.” Lily protested.
“Not in this story, you don’t.” Vinny countered. “So, Lily was bored one day, you see. She didn’t want to play with any of her toys and she had already eaten too much ice cream. There was nothing good on TV and she didn’t have anyone around to keep her company.”
“What about Mom and Dad?” Lily asked.
“They’re at work.”
“What about you?”
“I’m at work.”
“You don’t work.”
“This is fiction, Lily, keep up.” Vinny sighed. “Anyway, where was I?”
“Grandpa?” Lily asked.
“Am I going to have no friends when I grow up because I’m not going to school?” she wondered aloud.
Vinny took a minute to think about how to answer that one. Lily had come down with a case of pneumonia and was out of her first-grade class for a month. While she still had a bit of a cough, she was well enough to go back to school. She had gotten so comfortable staying home and playing with him and her parents in the beginning that she never wanted to go back to school ever again. Lily didn’t understand why she couldn’t stay home all the time and play with her parents and grandparents.
“Maybe,” Vinny replied. He knew it was a harsh answer for such a young kid, but he didn’t know what else to say to her. At least he didn’t bluntly agree with her.
Lily sighed. “So, I should go back to school?”
“Do you want to make friends? Do you want to be able to play with your friends and invite them over and such?” Vinny asked.”
“Then you should go back to school.” Vinny stated matter-of-factly. “I think going back to school sounds like a wonderful idea.”
“Okay, okay,” Lily said. She snuggled up with her stuffed animal rolling over onto her side. She closed her eyes and breathed gently. “I’ll go back to school.”
“Great.” Vinny smiled rubbing her back.
“I can’t wait to see my friends tomorrow.” Lily muttered. She was smiling though her eyes were still closed and it was obvious to Vinny that she was drifting off to sleep.
“Tomorrow?” he repeated.
“Yeah, I can’t wait to go to school tomorrow and see all my friends.”
Vinny stood up and slowly backed out of her bedroom. He opened the door and stepped out into the hall as Lily’s breathing got into a steady rhythm. He didn’t have the heart the tell her tomorrow was Saturday. Her parents could deal with that one in the morning.