On the nights Autumn stayed with her father in his apartment, he told her a bedtime story, and then she fell asleep in his bed next to a big stuffed frog, which she called Bob. He had a pink heart.
Later that night, after reading a book or watching a movie, Autumn’s father, Marshall, joined them.
And that’s how it was, for years: Marshall slept on one end of the bed next to Autumn, who slept in the middle of the bed next to Bob, who slept on the other end of the bed.
And while Autumn and her father were close, Autumn and Bob in some ways were closer.
“We share the same dreams,” Autumn said one night as Marshall put her to bed.
“Oh, yeah?” Marshall said. “What do you and Bob dream about?”
“Bob and I dream about a town where everything is made out of rainbows,” Autumn said. “The houses are made out of rainbows. The cars are made out of rainbows. The fridges are made out of rainbows. Even the fruit roll-ups are made out of rainbows.”
“That sounds like a beautiful place,” Marshall said. “Are the people made out of rainbows, too?”
“No, they’re normal,” Autumn said. “Except for Bob. He still looks like a frog.”
“That must be neat, to have a friend that shares your dreams.”
“It is,” Autumn said. “Bob’s really cool. He can read minds. He’s a … mystic!”
“I see,” Marshall said. “Sleep well.”
And the three did, until Chloe started spending the night, too. She not only often joined Autumn and her father for Daddy Day, she sometimes stayed until the next morning.
Autumn remembered the first time. She woke up with her father to one side, as usual, but Chloe was on the other. Bob was nowhere to be seen.
“This is so surprising!” Autumn said, playing with Chloe’s poofy hair.
“Chloe was too tired to drive home last night,” Marshall said. “I thought it would be better if she stayed here.”
“You had a sleepover?” Autumn said.
“Yes, is that all right?” Chloe said.
“Yes, I think that’s a great idea!” Autumn said. “You can sleep over any time.”
Autumn quickly learned, however, that sleeping in bed with her father and Chloe was a little different than it had been with her father and Bob.
There was less room in the bed, because Chloe was larger than Bob. Everybody was squished.
One day, Autumn arrived at her father’s apartment, and it wasn’t only his anymore. It had plants and books and crystals and blankets and spoons. Chloe was moved in.
“Is all of this stuff yours?” Autumn asked Chloe.
“It came from my apartment, but now it’s all of ours,” Chloe said.
“Are you going to marry Chloe?” Autumn asked her father as he put her to bed.
“Someday, probably,” Marshall said.
“Will there be a big wedding, with lots of cupcakes?”
“Big wedding, no. Lots of cupcakes, maybe. But only if you sing.”
“I will sing, Daddy.”
“I hope so,” he said. “Love you, baby.”
That night, Marshall told Autumn a bedtime story about her and Bob’s first adventure leaving the rainbow town. It involved a treasure hunt on a flying carpet for magic cupcakes that gave Autumn and Bob super powers.
It was such an exciting story, Autumn and her mystic friend dreamed about it together all night.
When Autumn woke the next morning, she was sleeping in a new bed.
Just for her.