I have two children, aged 7 and 4. Both love books. Since they were babies, I’ve been making up stories to read to them.
Here is a story I wrote for them last year: “The Littlest’s Adventure-Another Bedtime Story”. My daughter Maya loved the story so much that she did several drawings for it. She said that she’d like to illustrate for the story someday when it became a real book. 🙂
The pig family, Pig Papa, Pig Mama, and their four piglets, live a happy life on a farm at a bend of a river. One day, the Littlest, the youngest of the piglets and the only girl, realizes that they’re going to be sent to a slaughterhouse. Despite her family’s objection, she plans her escape. Will she succeed? Will her family be on her side eventually? Here is a story of defying odds and overcoming obstacles, of love for freedom, and of what it means to be a family.
It was bedtime, but Maya didn’t want to sleep. It was raining heavily and she could hear thunders in the distance, roaring terrible roars, like an angry monster. Several times, lightning bolts pierced the sky, baring their shining teeth. Maya was scared but she didn’t want to tell her mama. Didn’t she turn six just last week?
“One more story, please,” Maya said to mama, who had already read her two stories. Mama was really quite tired, but she stroked Maya’s head and agreed to read one more story.
“What do you want to hear?” asked mama.
Maya thought for a moment and said, “Maybe a story about a pig?” She didn’t know why she wanted to hear a story about a pig. But it didn’t matter, did it? She was happy as long as mama was with her.
So mama began. Seeing Maya’s eager eyes, she knew that the story had to be a long one.
Once upon a time there was a farm at the bend of a river. On the other side of the river was a jungle thick with conifers, birch trees, ferns and all kinds of vines. It was so thick and dark that no one had ever explored it. The only road connecting the farm with the city was narrow and forever jammed with cars and motorcycles.
The farmer and his wife had many animals. Among them was a family of hogs: Pig Papa, Pig Mama, and their four piglets named, according to their weight, Little First, Little Second, Little Third, and Littlest. Littlest was the only girl piglet and was much smaller and thinner than her brothers.
The pig family lived in a pen with a chain link fence. Every morning, the farmer’s wife poured a bucket of leftover food into the pen. Every afternoon, she poured another bucket of leftovers into the pen. Though she and her husband ate good meat and fresh vegetables and fruit, the pigs could only have leftovers. Not just any leftovers, but the leftovers the other farm animals didn’t want.
The wife never washed the pigs or touched them or gave them an extra glance. She liked her dogs, cats, horses, cows, even her chickens, but she didn’t like the pigs. Whenever she fed them, she called them “dirty pigs” or “stupid pigs.” It had been her husband’s idea to raise pigs. If it had been up to her, she wouldn’t have had pigs in a million years. She didn’t like their smells, nor the noises they made when they ate, and she didn’t like looking at them either. The only good thing about the pigs was their meat. She couldn’t wait to have them slaughtered and sold.
Pig Papa and Pig Mama loved food and didn’t mind if it was leftovers or not. Nor did they mind the grim-faced farmer’s wife. Every day, they dug their snouts into the food before it barely landed on the ground. They slurped and grunted happily. “Come quickly, my sweet babies,” they called out to the piglets playing in the mud. “Come to enjoy the feast with papa and mama!” The piglets joined them and ate noisily. Together, the pig family sang
“We are one happy and proud pig family,
There’re six of us and we love each other dearly,
We eat leaves, roots, fruit, rotten or not
We have strong stomachs and good appetites
We don’t care what tomorrow is about
As long as we have enough to eat.”
They sang every time they ate until one day they noticed that Littlest wasn’t singing along. Littlest wasn’t even eating. She stood at a corner of the pen, looking sadly at her papa, mama and brothers. Her small eyes sparkled with tears. What was wrong? Today’s food was particularly delicious and there were even several rotten apples in it. Pig Mama ran to her beloved daughter and asked, “Did you fall? Did the horses tease you? Did the chicken keep you up last night? Did sand get in your eyes? Did the fence scratch your skin? Did a flea bite you? Did a bird poop on you?” Like every other mom in the world, she always asked too many questions.
Littlest shook her head and started to cry. Now Pig Papa and her three brothers came to her as well, because they all loved Littlest very much.
“What’s wrong?” They asked in unison.
“We will be sent to a slaughter house next month. All of us.” Littlest said, crying.
“Who told you that?” Pig Papa asked. He didn’t look surprised.
“Cat Bobby,” the Littlest replied. Unlike her parents and brothers, she liked to make friends with other farm animals.
“How did he know?” Pig Mama asked. She didn’t look surprised at the bad news either.
“He was sitting on the farmer’ wife’s lap when the farmer told his wife,” Littlest said, still crying.
“You can never trust Cat Bobby,” Little First said. He didn’t like the news, but he disliked Cat Bobby even more. Oh, that damned cat! He always had a shrewd smile on his face and he walked as if he were a prince. Only the kind and credulous Littlest would befriend him.
The other three piglets panicked and started to cry with Littlest. Life was so wonderful with sunshine, food, mud and family. No, they didn’t want to die.
Pig Papa cleared his throat loudly, which stopped Littlest and her three brothers from crying. When he cleared his throat, he always had something important to say.
“From the day we were born, your mama and I knew we’d be slaughtered someday,” Pig Papa said.
“Yes, we knew that,” Pig Mama chimed in. “All your grandparents died in a slaughter house. All your grand-grandparents died in a slaughter house, too. We’re raised to be killed, to be eaten. That’s the fate of pigs. You don’t fight your fate. You cannot, anyway.”
Seeing how scared the piglets looked, she felt she had to comfort them. “But see, our lives are really not that bad. We don’t need to work like the farmer and his wife or the horses. We don’t need to give away milk like the cows – milk comes from blood, don’t you know? We don’t need to lay eggs like the chickens. And we don’t need to please anyone with cheap tricks like the dogs and the cats. We get free food. We don’t pay mortgage or rent. All we do is eat, play and grow fat. Not a bad life, right?” Pleased with what she said, she laughed.
To cheer up the piglets even more, Pig Papa said, “You know what? Many scientists believe that we pigs are smarter than cats and dogs. Because we know what a good life is about. And kids, we still have a whole month to enjoy our lives. A famous American author once said…” Pig Papa paused to make sure the piglets were listening, then continued. “He once said that ‘Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.’” He smiled, proud of his sophistication. It hadn’t been a waste of time to read the newspaper scraps that the wind had blown into the pen.
“But we don’t want to be killed. We don’t want to be eaten. Let’s run away. Let’s start a new life somewhere else,” Littlest shouted. She had never spoken so loudly in her life.
“Run away? A new life?” Pig Mama chuckled, pitying her little daughter’s naivety. “We cannot live in the forest like wild boars. We don’t want that, either. You have to worry about food and lodging every second. Not to mention the threat from tigers, lions and wolves.”
“But at least we’ll be free,” Littlest argued. She couldn’t believe how timid her mama was.
“How do we escape? Where do we go?” Her brothers asked in unison.
“We cannot swim across the river,” Little First said.
“We cannot cross the jungle,” Little Second said.
“We don’t have wings or fins,” Little Third said.
“We cannot even get out of this pen,” Little First added.
“We can get out,” Littlest said. “There’s six of us. When the farmer and his wife are sleeping, we can cut the fence with our teeth. We can dig a big hole under it.”
“Then what, you silly girl?” Pig Papa said. He was getting impatient with his daughter. How could a sophisticated pig like him have such a stupid daughter? Thinking back, he recalled that Littlest had been always different from her siblings. She didn’t like to roll in the mud, she chewed her food with less vigor, she spent more time thinking than playing. Even her skin color was fairer, a sickly and unhealthy gray, several shades lighter than her brothers’. On rainy and stormy days, his other children hid behind him and their mama in the shed, but Littlest always wanted to be outside, staring at dark clouds and lightning as if they were some kind of toys.
“Listen, my dearest daughter, we can never cross the river and the jungle,” Pig Mama said. She didn’t have the heart to scold her only daughter. She thought about an uncle of hers, who drowned in the river years ago when trying to escape the farm. He was the strongest pig she had ever known.
“And we’ll be killed by cars as soon as we appear on the road,” Little First said, imagining the pain of being hit by a car and the big pool of blood from his body. He shivered. Of course, he didn’t want to be killed by a knife either, but that kind of death somehow seemed less horrifying to him. His father and mother were right: pigs’ fate was to be slaughtered and eaten, and from now on he’d better enjoy every day. Worry would only make you lose hair, lose weight, and most tragically, lose appetite. If a pig didn’t have an appetite, how could he still be a pig? He ran back to the food the farmer’s wife had dumped and began to eat molded bread vigorously. He was never a worrier. That was why he was the heaviest among the piglets.
Hearing Little First’s happy grunt, Little Second, Little Third, and their parents ran back to the food too. After all, they were starving from such a long discussion. Pigs might outsmart dogs and cats, but they weren’t made for long talks.
Littlest stood still, alone and lonely. But she’d made up her mind. No matter what, she would get out of here and never return. No, she didn’t have to accept her fate. There was no such a thing called fate. She was her own boss and she would prove that.
(End of the sample. The story is pretty long and filled with twists. If you want to know what happens to Littlest, please write to me and I’ll send you the rest of the story.)