I woke up the other day to the sound of a squealing little girl exploding through my bedroom door. She tumbled into the side of my bed and hopped up and down waving a tiny green flag in the air.
I sat up and recoiled backward into my pillow.
“Lydia! Lydia settle down! What in the world is going on?”
She held the flag towards me at arm’s length. “The Tooth Fairy Came!” She announced. In her hand was a five dollar bill. On it was Lincoln smiling with a wide toothy grin and a single gap in the bottom row. I blinked up at the little girl smiling behind it. As I watched she stuck her tongue through the very same gap in her own teeth.
“Oh.” I yawned. “Oh wow.”
There was a rumbling sound as the little girl’s older sister came up the stairs and smashed her way into the room as well.
“Hey, the tooth fairy came?” she cheered.
“The tooth fairy came!” her sister replied.
They joined hands and hopped in a circle for a few seconds. Their combined squeals wove together into a terrible thing above their heads.
I fell back onto my pillow and groaned.
“How much did you get?” Clara asked anxiously.
Lydia showed her.
“Five Dollars! Yes!” The older girl pumped her fist in the air and she shivered with excitement. There was something suspicious about her enthusiasm. “Lydia, you have Five Dollars!”
There was more squealing and jumping.
“You know what that means?” Clara asked.
“It means, I have five dollars,” Lydia said simply.
“Yes, but five dollars is only worth what you can buy with it,” Clara explained.
I narrowed my eyes, realizing that Clara was now holding the bill in her own hands and staring into Lincoln’s grinning face in a way that made me uncomfortable.
“Five dollars could buy you…” she tilted her head in thought, “five hundred bedtime stories! Can you imagine Lydia? Five hundred stories! Wow! Wouldn’t that be great?”
Lydia didn’t seem quite sure about this, “I guess,” she said finally.
I shook my head in confusion. “Clara, what are you talking about?”
Without looking up from the five dollar bill she said, “Oh, after you read us books at night, sometimes Lydia still can’t fall asleep. So, I sell her bedtime stories. They are only one cent each. I make them up for her and Gideon. Sometimes several a night.” Her eyes sparkled, “This could buy her five hundred stories. Lydia, just imagine. Rapunzel and Paw Patrol and princesses and knights, you, me, the future, the past. Anything you want. Just name it, and I’ll make up five hundred stories about it.” her voice trailed off as if she were only talking to herself now. “… Five hundred stories for only five dollars…”\
I leaned forward and slowly slipped the bill out of her fingers and then placed it back in Lydia’s hand. “Or…” I said, “Lydia, you can spend this money on anything you want, as the tooth fairy intended,” I made eye contact with Clara, “and your sister can tell you bedtime stories for free, like a normal big sister.”