Sara reads to her boy Ethan every night at bedtime. It doesn’t get any easier.

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A Bedtime Story

Bob Gillen

Sara and Justin sat shoulder to shoulder on their couch, relaxing after the end of a long work day. On their TV Pat Sajak signed off on the current evening’s episode of Wheel of Fortune

Justin straightened up. “I’m craving some popcorn. Interested?”

Sara shifted to the front edge of the couch. “Time for me to read a bedtime story to Ethan.”

Justin said, “Isn’t it time to stop?”

A single tear oozed out of Sara’s eye. “No. I’m not ready to do that.”

Justin shook his head. “You’ve been doing this for over a year now.”

Sara simply nodded. She rose and headed for the stairs.

In Ethan’s room Sara selected a book from the packed bookcase against the wall. The Monster at the End of This Book. One of Ethan’s favorites.

She sat on the edge of the tightly-made bed. A baseball sat on the pillow. A ball signed by Ethan’s favorite Dodger. On the wall over the headboard hung a large picture of a grinning Ethan, a Dodgers baseball cap on his head, a bat slung over his shoulder. The LA Dodgers. His beloved team. 

“Ready, Ethan?” Sara asked.


Sara began reading. Tears flowed down her cheeks. She dabbed at them with a tissue. 

“Sorry to interrupt with all my sniffling.”


Sara continued to read. She stopped a few times to gaze up at Ethan’s picture.

At the end of the story, she took a deep breath. “Why, Ethan? Why did they take you so soon?”

Justin appeared at the door. “You okay?”

Sara shrugged. “The usual.”

Justin sat next to her. He took the book from her and set it down on the bed. “He would be too old for bedtime stories by now, don’t you think?”

“He doesn’t grow older in my mind.”

From the nightstand Sara picked up a newspaper clipping encased in a plastic sheet. A headline read: “Five students murdered in classroom shooting.” She waved the clipping in the air.

“Ethan stopped growing at this moment. He’ll never be more than six.”