Hopscritch. Hairy Bats. Spiky Monkeys. Sharp-toothed Trolls and Flat-toothed Trolls. What do all of these have in common? They all live in the fictional world created for a 6 year old before bed. One of my favorite parts of babysitting is practicing my verbal storytelling with a captive audience who doesn't care if I mess up, or repeat myself. They are simply enthralled by the story playing out in their minds. It intrigues me, also, that one brother could want a story about a wild dog, a wild cat, a snow leopard and a coyote, where the other wants the histories of these strange creatures living on the dark side of the moon. This is the best kind of practice for me, since I can not fail. They just want the stories. And who wouldn't? Stories make the world a better place. The bed time story I told tonight created a world where none had been before. In this world, there was a jungle on the dark side of the moon. We never saw this jungle, because a) its on the dark side of the moon, and b) when the light touches it, it reflects the light so brightly that we can't see the trees, and instead see plain rock. All of the creatures living in it are constantly moving, to keep up with the spinning of the moon so that they're always on the dark side, and away from the sun. Long ago, there was a great debate between the trolls about whose teeth were better. The Flat-toothed Trolls were vegetarians, and the Sharp-toothed Trolls were carnivores. Each clan fought the other whenever they saw each other in the woods, because at one point in time (when they still got along) they sent a messenger to the other clan. They were arranging a meeting in order to settle once and for all who had the best teeth, but the messenger got the time and place mixed up by a letter, signifying a completely different location from the intended meeting place. Because of this, both clans felt stood up and since then, there has been constant battle. The Hairy Bats were winged, spider-like creatures that scavenged for their food. This meant that there were constantly more Hairy Bats around the Sharp-toothed Trolls than there were around the Flat-toothed Trolls. However, the Hopscritches (herbivorous, pig-like creatures with long legs and long tails) spent most of their time with the Flat-toothed Trolls, because they ate similar food. None of the animals or Trolls liked the Spiky Monkeys, but they were necessary in order to keep the jungle healthy. They pruned the trees and ate dead vegetation. But they weren't pretty, soft, or in general very pleasant to encounter. The story tonight ended with the promise of more, going into detail about two Sharp-toothed trolls (Karyn and Charles) and two Flat-toothed Trolls (Bomber and Billy) who made an expedition to Earth because of a pesky Kraken. (This kid really loves mythology, so how could I disappoint?) Stay tuned for more of the story. Or, I suppose, you can take it as a bed time story and just enjoy the thought of a rainforest on the dark side of the moon.