“Tell me again, father, of my mother. What was her quest that kept her from us?”

She knew the stories, better than he by now, but still she asked. Familiar tales for bedtime.

“Well, my love,” he started. “You were too young to remember when first the cold days of wintering nary turned to warm awakening.”

The child settled down under the bedding, clutching tight her doll. She loved the ritual retelling; the call and response between herself and her father.

“Was it fair cold?” the little girl asked, her eyes wide with the story.

“Cold,” he replied, “Close to cold enough to freeze flames in the fireplace. Your mother and I donned all the clothes that we had. We wrapped you in ten quilts, but still you shivered.”

“Was the wintering a snow-fast one, father?”

“Snow, deeper than you are now tall, my sweet,” he answered, “If tonight, and you wandered, I would lose sight of you in those drifts.”

“And the wind?”

“Oh, the wind,” he answered, “Blew like a screaming demon across the land, twisting trees into knots, piling snow so high against our house, we need go up to the roof to leave.”

“The wintering lay deep upon the land long past the equinox. No warm awakening sun to free the land from it’s casting of snow and ice.”

“And what of my mother?” the child stifled a small yawn. She turned slightly into her pillow, her father’s hand resting on her.

“Well, she knew if she did not quest to find the true sun, not the false one that barely rose in the sky, we would never see green shoots, nor wildflowers blooming, hear buzz of bees, feel sweet, soft warm breath of breezes.”

He looked down upon his daughter, growing slowly to more resemble her mother than himself.

“Now, I must tell you a solemn secret, one only shared with you. She was a shapeshifter – she could dazzle the true sun in any form she chose.”

The daughter nodded – she’d sworn her secrecy afore. And, she knew to keep the oath tight upon herself.

“So, with my blessing, and a kiss upon your cheek,” with that he bent close and softly touched her face, “she left to find the true sun.”

“A long quest?” the daughter asked, sinking deeper into the piles of quilts upon her bed.

“Yes,” her father answered, his words puffs of frozen smoke.

“But, someday, my sweet, she will return, true sun in tow, and the land will be green again.”

Inspired by mlmm’s photo challenge #377 and a continuation, of a sort, of an early bedtime story inspired by a mlmm prompt, told by father to daughter: a father’s tale; a mother’s dance.

feature image: Trapping the Sun, @Pobble365