Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in a big, beautiful mansion. She had fat, rosy cheeks, sleek black hair falling to her waist and chubby little hands and legs. Well-beloved by all who knew her, she had a young loving mother and the most wonderful doting father. She had 3 hand-maidens to call her own: one to play with her, one to feed her and one to bathe her. She had everything a little girl could possibly dream of.

One day, in that big beautiful mansion, she sat broodingly on the splendid marble staircase which commanded a bountiful presence the moment one entered that enormous home, layer upon layer of cool white marble laid to foundation, climbing up 15 steps to a large landing, and there it branched into 2 wings, one on each side, equally resplendent to lead to the different wings of the home. The staircase was just polished, and sparkled in the sunlight.

She sat there that morning, because she knew her father was going away somewhere for work. Her mother told her it was over the sea. Which sea? she wondered. How would her daddy go over the sea? Drive? An aeroplane? If so, what kind? Would he discover a new land? Why did he have to go? Her mother told her it was a place called London, in England, far away from where they lived. How far was far? At the tender age of 2, she had no sense of time and days. She asked her mother, “How far, Mummy?” And her mother said, “Far enough that when Daddy comes home, you would’ve grown an inch.”

And so she thought, if I grow an inch, then I’d need new slippers because my feet would’ve grown an inch too.

So as her father descended the staircase in his suit and customary briefcase, and her mother quickly planted a kiss on his nose, she got up and clung to his legs.

“Daddy, where will you go?” she asked. (Despite being the age of 2, she spoke exceedingly well).

“I’m going to London for work, my princess,” he said and smiled at her, picking her up and kissing her soundly on both cheeks.

“Then when you come back, will you buy me some new slippers?” she asked, her eyes wide and big. She hugged her father’s neck tightly, her chubby arms smelling of sweet Johnson’s baby lotion.

“Of course! Anything for you, my precious.”

“I want Minnie Mouse slippers,” she proclaimed. “Red ones. With bells. They go tinkle-tinkle.” She struggled to get down, and he put her down in the hall. “And with the funny mouse sounds.” She meant, slippers that squeaked.

For some reason, her father understood what she meant. He nodded gravely. “Of course, darling. Squeaky slippers, you mean.”

She nodded furiously.

Her dear father went off to London the next day, and came back 3 weeks later. In those 3 weeks, she had, indeed, grown an inch.

Father looked so handsome, and maybe a little older, she had missed him so much! He had come home in the night when she was asleep. And in the morning, when she was playing with her toy piano on the patio outside the house, he surprised her with a little gift.

Her eyes widened and shone with love. “Daddy!” she squealed, and there was no end to the hugs and kisses that followed, until he said, “Look what I bought you.”

Her mouth widened into an ‘O’ and she eagerly tore the gaily-wrapped gift. Inside a little silver shoe box, she found them. Exactly as she had pictured. Red Minnie Mouse slippers with tiny silver bells. And when she put them on and walked around, they squeaked.

Only fathers would search the ends of the earth for the perfect gift. To make the dreams of their little ones come true.

31 years on, that little girl (now grown up) thinks of those red Minnie Mouse slippers with fondness, a depth of indescribable emotions, and love in abundance.