I’ve mentioned before that bedtime for my 5yr old son often involves my being called upon to whip up a story on the fly. That story must contain either superheroes, or Shakespeare – his choice, not mine. Superheroes are easy, he picks a couple good guys and a couple bad guys and I inevitably start with whatever my son did that day. He got a haircut, Wolverine was getting a haircut.
But then he asks for a Shakespeare story, like he did tonight, and I’m often stuck. He doesn’t want an existing story, you see – he wants an adlib.
So here’s the version he got tonight:
“One day, Hamlet was out by the water practicing his swordfighting.”
“Who was he practicing with?”
“So, Hamlet and Horatio were practicing their swordfighting, and Ophelia came up to them. “I’m going to go pick some flowers down by the river,” she told them. “Have fun,” said Hamlet, and off she went.
A few minutes later they heard a *crack*, a *splash*, and a “Help!” Ophelia had fallen in the water! Hamlet rushed to the edge of the river like he was going to jump in, but Horatio held him back. “You’ll never save her!” Horatio said, “You’ll be swept away too!”
So Hamlet and Horatio called out, “Shakespeare! We need your help!”
“Wait a minute,” my son interrupted, “Didn’t Shakespeare *write* this story?”
“Yes,” I half lied.
“Then how can he *be* in the story?”
“He wrote himself into the story.”
“So Hamlet and Horatio called to Shakespeare, and *poof* William Shakespeare appeared, with a piece of paper in one hand and a quill pen in the other. “Shakespeare,” Hamlet said, “You didn’t write in any way for us to rescue Ophelia.”
“Oh,” said Shakespeare, “Apparently I didn’t. I can fix that!” and he scribble scribble scribbled something onto his paper. When he was done, *poof* there was a giant tree at the edge of the river, and dangling from the tree was a tire swing. With that, Shakespeare disappeared.
Hamlet and Horatio knew immediately what to do. Hamlet climbed into the swing, and Horatio pulled him back as far as he could go and released. Hamlet swung out over the river where he was able to grab onto Ophelia’s arms and pull her back to shore.
Horatio and Hamlet patted each other on the back, congratulating themselves on saving Ophelia. Ophelia saw the tire swing and said, “Oooo, where’d you get the tire swing? I call next!”
“Good grief!” said Horatio and Hamlet together.