The temptation of little Meriel. My short story.

OK people so here’s another short story I wrote basing on some writing prompts. Funnily enough, just as my first one, which you can read here,

it also features some yummy food in one of the main roles. As always, sorry about any potential stilistical, grammar or other shortcomings in the quality, I’m only just starting with creative writing in English.

   The temptation of little Meriel

“…95, 96, 97… stupid sheep! Why don’t they do what I want?!” – muttered a 6-year-old girl, tosing and turning in her bed. The girl’s name was Meriel, and her problem was that she couldn’t fall asleep. She was trying to count sheep for the last half an hour or so, but with very poor results. The sleep wouldn’t come, no matter what she did. SHe went to sleep in a very joyful mood, all happy and excited, because the next day she was going to have a birthday. A 7th birthday. Her school friends were invited, lots of fun games were planned, and yummy food was prepared. Only, how can one think of a happy birthday when sleep doesn’t want to come at night? The joyful mood has nearly vanished, and Meriel was growing more and more irritated, and more and more scared every minute. The moon was peeking into her room, and long time has passed since her Mummy kissed her goodnight. Soon after that, she switched off the lights, and Meriel could hear her steps upstairs, and the slight creaking of Mummy’s bed. Meriel knew that she mustn’t wake up Mummy. Mummy was troubled by an ugly monster called Insomnia,

who liked to creep into her brain at nights and make it hard for her to sleep, so that sometimes she couldn’t even sleep at night at all. Even the small white pills that always stood on her bedside table didn’t always help. So when Insomnia wasn’t creeping in her Mummy’s brain, or when the pills were able to scare her away, it was the more important to let Mummy sleep peacefully. That’s what Daddy told her, back when he lived with them. “You are a big girl Meriel, and I know you can understand this” – he said. – And she didn’t want to let him down. She also loved her Mummy, and didn’t want to make her sleepy in the morning. She didn’t know what to think about this Insomnia monster though. She didn’t like her, because she was bad for Mummy, but she also liked her at the same time. Because sometimes, when Insomnia wouldn’t let Mummy sleep, Mummy  would come to Meriel’s room and lie with her, or would just bustle around in the kitchen, making herself a cup of tea, which made Meriel feel safe in her sleep, knowing that no scary monsters will come to her because Mummy will see them first and won’t let them sneak in to her little girl’s room. Sometimes, when Meriel had trouble falling asleep too, Mum would make two big mugs of steaming hot chocolate for both of them, and after that, Meriel was fast asleep, sometimes even before she could brush her teeth and go back to her room and Mummy had to carry her.

But now there were no sounds that could mean that Mummy was still awake, despite Meriel listened really carefully. “Maybe Insomnia didn’t come tonight.” – she thought. – “Good for Mummy. That can’t be nice to have a monster in your head.” And then, a scary thought came to her mind. What if tonight Insomnia decided to visit her – Meriel – instead of her Mummy? Is it her who doesn’t let her sleep? maybe she is right here, in her room? Standing beside her bed? Or maybe she’s already creeped into her brain? “I wonder what she’s like. Is she scary, like a real monster?” – she thought. Dozens of images filled her little head, as she thought what Insomnia might look like, and she barely noticed that it’s making her a little uneasy, more afraid. Just as she thought about that, the window curtain moved slightly. Meriel startled, and could barely stifle a scream. “She’s here! I knew it, she’s here!” – she thought panicked. Regardless of whether insomnia was in her room or not, any chance of sleep was gone now. Meriel hid under the duvet, her imagination flooded with horrifying images that she has just made up.

She spent there a long time, or so it felt for her, until finally she could stick her head out and look around the room. There was no one that she could see. “I should be brave” – she whispered – “That’s what Daddy has always told me. I should try to sleep and tomorrow it’ll be my birthday. I need to sleep.” She tried lying with her eyes closed for a couple more minutes, but sleep didn’t come. She was still too startled. After a while, a thought came to her mind: “If Mummy’s pills scare this monster away, maybe I should take one too?” That seemed like a good idea for Meriel. Very carefully, holding her breath, she sticked out one feet from under the covers, then another, after a while. She put her fuzzy slippers on, slowly got up, and quietly came to the door, peering through. It was dark and quiet everywhere. Only her heart was thumping loudly, and Fluffy – her dog – was snoring lightly on the carpet. Meriel stroked Fluffy’s fur to gain a bit of courage. She didn’t like the dark, and was very afraid of it. As she went through the corridor, the tapping of her little feet seemed loud and eerie in this sleepy house. She almost ran through the flight of stairs leading to her Mummy’s room, trying to be as quiet as possible, stopping in front of the door. She opened them very quietly and peeped in. “Mummy? Are you sleeping?” – she mouthed. There was no answer. Mummy was asleep, all snuggled up warm, and, seeing that, Meriel felt a sting of jealousy. She came closer and listened to Mummy’s silent breath. “Will she be mad at me if I take one pill? Just one? I’m not stealing it, I’ll tell her I took it” – she wondered – “But if insomnia came to me, I need something too to scare her away, I can’t go sleepy on my birthday”. And then, very silently, Meriel reached out for the jar with pills, standing beside her Mummy’s bed. As she did it, Mummy sighed in her sleep, murmured something and turned over. Meriel got startled, again this night. “Oh no, maybe it’s not a good idea, I’ll wake Mummy up” – she thought. And sneaked out of the room quickly.

“So what should I do now?” – Meriel thought, suddenly feeling very lonely and on the verge of tears. “Everyone else is asleep, even Fluffy is sleeping. I want to sleep too!”. she thought about all those steaming mugs of cocoa they’ve drank with Mummy, and how they always made her instantly sleepy. Maybe she should drink cocoa then? The problem was, meriel had no idea how to make cocoa, nor any other hot drink. She was an only child, not a very autonomous one, spoiled thoroughly by her loving, single Mummy, who let her play almost as much as she wanted and didn’t want her to worry about anything, and to whom it has never occurred so far that it could be helpful to teach her daughter some practical skills, so that she could cope on her own in case Mummy wouldn’t be there to help her.

But the next day was Meriel’s birthday, and because of this special occasion, there was plenty of delicious food. Meriel herself wasn’t taking part in the preparations, as she was in school when Mum was making all those yummies, but she knew well all that was there, as it was Meriel herself who made the list of all her favourite things that she wants to be on her birthday party. Another thing that Meriel knew, which would probably surprise her mother, was where all those delicacies were hidden, in hopes that Meriel wouldn’t discover them too quickly. She figured it out much earlier on another occasion, but now seemed to be a good chance to use this secret knowledge. Meriel’s Mummy, unaware of her child’s great detective skills, has always kept everything that she wanted to hide from her daughter – in the basement. –

Meriel didn’t like the basement, it was dark, cold and wet, and she suspected that there might be some mice or perhaps even rats, so even though she knew about this hiding place, she wouldn’t dare go there. But now, as she had already get out of her room at night, and stood there in the dark on the stairs, feeling her mouth watering and her stomach gurgling, she thought that it could be a nice, little nightly adventure, to go down to the basement, and have a little treat before birthday. Mummy surely wouldn’t notice. Nevertheless, she could feel a big, unpleasant knot in her tummy, as she thought about going down there, so before her basement expedition, Meriel popped into her room once again, and took out one of the keepsakes from his Daddy – a small torch which he bought for her for one of their campings, to help her overcome her fear of darkness, as her Daddy was a real enthusiast of travelling, especially all sorts of campings and tentings, and had high hopes that his daughter will one day follow his footsteps. – The torch had been lying uselessly among Meriel’s things for almost a year, and now it was finally its time. As she came back on to the corridor, Fluffy yawned and looked at her, intrigued about what her little mistress is up to so late at night. Meriel felt happier and braver that she’s not alone anymore, and as she went, Fluffy followed her faithfully, as if encouraging this little crime. “At least even if Mummy notices I can say Fluffy ate it” – Meriel chuckled.

She started going down the stairs, down into the darkness. “Hm, maybe I should rather go back? I guess it’s not good what I’m doing. It’s cheating…” – she hesitated, looking down and, again, feeling less confident. “Oh well, but I’m hungry! And I can’t sleep. I have to do something that will help me”. And that explanation seemed to satisfy her, as little Meriel continued walking down the stairs. THe door opened with a creek, that seemed somehow ominous for the little girl’s overactive imagination and uneasy conscience. But she courageously went in, looking for the place where all her birthday food has been hidden. As she examined the contents of all bowls and plates she realised that actually it would be hard for her to eat anything of it not leaving any sign. There were mostly cakes, and Meriel wasn’t the most skiled at cutting yet, she knew she wouldn’t be able to cut an even piece of cake, and even if, Mummy would see that something is missing. But then she remembered. There was one dessert that Mummy didn’t do yesterday, because it the best when eaten fresh. Meringue with ice cream! “So there have to be meringues!” – Meriel said to herself. “Fluffy, what do you think, where are they? Will Mummy be mad at me for eating a little piece of meringue?”. The girl imagined that Fluffy shakes her head, and continued rummaging the basement. “Ohh, here they are! Look, Fluffy! Now we’ll have a real feast!” – Meriel took a piece and gave it to Fluffy. Just like Meriel’s Mummy, and Meriel herself, Fluffy was also a real meringue connoisseur, so she appreciated the treat. But Meriel was more hesitant.

She certainly wasn’t an angel and liked to be mischievous and cunning, which both her intellect and fiery temper helped with, making her quite a handful to deal with for her Mummy, but she was at the same time a good-natured child and lying, cheating or stealing wasn’t her natural traits, even if it was just about stealing from her own birthday table. With her kind and honest heart, she would most gladly go back upstairs, woke up Mummy and ask her if she could eat a little meringue, or just anything, but imageries of her Mummy being plagued by Insomnia monster kept her from doing so, as she felt somehow responsible for her mother’s good sleep, and she just wanted to deal with the problem on her own. She took another, very small piece of meringue and held it in her hand. Suddenly, her heart became very heavy and she felt that she doesn’t feel hungry anymore. Maybe she can fall asleep without doing it? Slowly, she raised her hand with the piece of meringue, and licked it. “Mmmmm…” Only that something still wasn’t right. Suddenly, as if driven by some impulse, Meriel quickly put down the piece of meringue on its previous place and went back to the door. Confounded and disappointed Fluffy followed her obediently. “Sorry, Fluff, not this time. I forgot we need to wait for the guests. It’s too early for feasting. And I think meringue tastes so much better with ice cream. On its own it’s too dry for me.”

She left the basement with a sigh of relief so big that she didn’t even feel disappointed that she didn’t get to eat the meringue. Instead of going back to her room though, Meriel again sneaked into her Mum’s bedroom, as silently as she only could. “Maybe if we will be together, we can win over Insomnia” – she thought. – She curled up next to Mummy on her bed, and immediately felt so much  better. Safer. Sleepier. Fluffy curled up under the bed and dozed off right away. The silent, monotonous sounds of Mummy’s and Fluffy’s breaths calmed down the little girl, exhausted after all her late night wanderings. She snuggled up close to her Mummy, and gave out a quiet sigh of satisfaction.

She was satisfied with herself, and knew that she did the right thing. The next time, she told Mummy about her night time struggles, and Mummy was very satisfied too, that she has such a sensible and trustworthy, mature little daughter. And since that night, neither of them has fought Insomnia on her own. They both know that they have each other, and no scary monsters can change it.