The World’s Longest Short Story


“I want a story,” Miss4 demanded when I was tucking her into bed.

There were none to hand because the books were at the other end of the house in the dining room.

“Let’s make a story up,” I suggested.

We’ve always done this, usually in a round with each kid adding just a few sentences to the story and passing it on. Great fun at bedtime or on long drives.

Or if you just don’t want to risk your four year old escaping from the bed linen in your absence.

“I’ll start,” I said. “Once upon a time, there was a …”

Miss4 waited.

“Your turn,” I told her. “Once upon a time, there was a what called what? You can pick whatever name you want.”

“My name,” she said predictably.

“And what are you?”

“A princess.”

“What sort of princess? You can be a frog or a mermaid. Anything.”

“A princess in a castle.”

“Right,” I said. We were going traditional. “Once upon a time Princess Sophie lived in a castle all by herself and-”

“No, Daddy,” interrupted Miss4. “I lived there with the other princesses.”

“Rightio,” I said, and began again. “Once upon a time Princess Sophie lived in a big castle with Princess Grace, Princess Joshua-”


Prince Joshua,” I corrected myself, “Princess Molly and Princess Emily, and she-”

But I’d got it wrong again. I forgot her older siblings. And Tracey and myself.

From the top…

“Once upon a time Princess Sophie lived in a castle,” I said, “with King Daddy, Queen Mummy, Prince Geoffr-”

“Mummy is a princess.”

I sucked in a lungful of air. I was going to need it to get to the end of this sentence. And patience, let’s not forget a good dose of that.

“King Daddy, Princess Mummy, Prince Geoffrey, Princess Mishaela, Princess Grace, Prince Joshua, Princess Mol-”

“Geoffrey can be a king too.”

I didn’t miss a beat, draw breath or claim to be Napoleon.

“King Daddy, Princess Mummy, King Geoffrey, Princess Mishaela, Princess Grace, Prince Joshua, Princess Molly and Princess Emily.”

Miss4 nodded with satisfaction. I sighed with something similar.

“The end,” I said hopefully. After that effort, I was knackered.

I gave her a kiss and she happily rolled onto her side. But not for long. Suddenly she sat up, her face a mixture of glee and urgency.

“Jazz!” she yelled after me. We’d forgotten the dog.

Tomorrow night I’m going to get a book.

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