Once Upon a Time...

Julia sat on her couch wearing a baggy pair of black pajama pants and an Oakland Panthers T-shirt as she sipped from a large plastic cup with a Muppets logo on it. She was doing parental math in her head. "I got her into the bath at 7 and into her pajamas by 7:30..." She winced. "Okay, so what if it was more like 7:45ish before she finally got into the kid wrangled into her pajamas? I still got her into bed by..." Julia gave a quick glance at a wristwatch before blowing out a small puff of air. "I'm gonna be optimistic."

"Friday?" Julia asked to the empty room.

"Yes?" A melodious and feminine but still robotic voice responded.

"Message Daniel that I'm going to try and check on Sprout. See if she needs an extra tuck in."

"Message sent. May I help with anything else?"

"That'll be all Friday."

Julia got up and made her way towards the hallway. As she passed a chair, she scooped up a kid-friendly looking tablet, labeled with a “Stark Industries” logo on the back. She pushed a button and quickly put the tablet to sleep and tucked it under her arm before continuing out of the room.

"Ow!" Julia shouted as she leapt onto one foot and leaned against the wall of the hallway, cradling the other, now-injured, foot in her hands. She looked down to see the floor is littered with toys. Julia let out a sigh as she knelt down next to the toys and put them in a nearby metal basket.

Julia began singing softly to herself as she picks up the errant toys:

“There is a young cowboy, he lives on the range.
His horse and his cattle are his only companions.
He works in the saddle and he sleeps in the canyons.
Waiting for summer, his pastures to change.”

Julia stood up and picked up the basket. Looking around the room for an obvious place, she sighed again before she placed the basket on the top of an end table and continued her way down the hallway.

Julia kept singing as she made her way through her home. She picked up a single casually discarded shoe from the floor, its laces awkwardly untied, and put it with its partner in an orderly line by the front door. She stopped again, this time by a metal clothes hamper, seeing a small pile of clothes piled up next to it. She scooped up the clothes and dropped them in the hamper.

Julia stopped at a door clearly decorated by a young girl. She quietly and slowly opened the door to her daughter's room. She stood in the doorway of her daughter’s room for a moment looking in. The room was dark, and Julia stood backlit in the doorway. The tiny child Sprout lay in the bed, perfectly still.

“You still awake Sprout?” Julia whispered.

Sprout pinched her eyes as tightly as possibly to try and convince her mother she was asleep. “No,” she added in case her mom needed more convincing.

Julia crossed her arms in front of her and leaned on the door frame. “How did I raise such a truly awful liar?

Sprout rolled over in her bed to better face her mother. “Well… you could tell me a story to help me get to sleep.”

Julia held up her hands in protest. “No. It’s way past your bedtime.”

Sprout sat up bolt right in bed, her hands clasped together in a begging gesture. Her eyes, large and pitiful.”Pleaaaaaase!”

Julia buried her face in her hands. “Ugggh.”

Sprout flashed the biggest, saddest eyes possible at her mother, still clutching her hands tightly together, palm to palm.

Julia held up one solitary finger. “One. Story.” She said emphatically.

Sprout holds up her arms in triumph. ”Yaaay!” Sprout gets herself settled, propping pillows up under her back to help her sit up in bed as Julia sits down on a chair next to Sprout’s bed. Julia took the tablet out from under her arm and turned it back on. "So, what are we going with tonight?"

“Grandma's book!" Sprout shouted, bursting at the seams with energy.

"But that's such a long one," Julia said, shaking her head. "You're just trying to stay up later."

"Please," Sprout asked with plaintive eyes.

"Oh, alright. But you're only getting the short version okay?"

Julia smiled as she leaned in close to Sprout who was snuggling herself into their bed, pulling her sheet up to her chin.

“Are you sitting comfortably?”

“Yesss!”

"Once upon a time there was a young girl…"

"Just like me."

"Yes, just like you Sprout. But this girl lived a long time ago with her mother and her father somewhere far, far away, in a land called Ugond…"


10,000 BC | Ugond

The Void came to Ugond. 

My mom threw me a ring that teleported me away to safety. I disappeared, the last thing I saw was my home burning down in front of me. 

10,000 BC | South Africa

I rematerialized in the desert with no one around me, friend or foe. 

No matter what I did, I couldn't get myself back home. I was stranded on Earth. Alone. 

9999 BC | Savage Land

I followed the long tunnel until I found an exit. Although, it seemed to take me to a savage land full of dinosaurs! 

9300 BC | Mesopotamia

After a long time alone, I came across a group of people in a city called Jericho. They were hesitant to accept me at first, but they soon embraced me as one of their own. 

I may still be stuck on Earth, but I was no longer alone. 

8000 BC | Mesopotamia

A wind spirit had no home. I offered it a chance to live inside my sword and it took me up on the offer. 

4200 BC | Mesopotamia

I kept the city safe

1795 BC | Themyscira

I competed in an athletic competition on Themyscira.  

I didn't win, but for finishing third, Hippolyte gifted me a shield. 

501 BC | Rome

What?

300 BC | Greece

I never thought I would settle down and raise a little one. Although she's not as little as she used to be! 

194 BC | Rome

I was captured in combat with Rome and they enslaved me and forced to fight as a gladiator. 

192 | Rome

I killed Commodus in exchange for my freedom but brought about the chaos that was the Year of the Five Emperors.

500 | England

I trained a young King Arthur

700 | Asgard

Due to some trickery and hocus pocus by the trickster Loki, Thor and I found ourselves at odds, each thinking the other was the villain. 

Fortunately, we were eventually able to figure out Loki was at the root of our troubles and teamed up to bring him to face Odin's justice. 

872 | England

I told a friend or two in Norway about how great England was and suddenly I found myself helping to raid them. 

1650 | Caribbean

I was commissioned by the English government to hunt down pirate ships. 

I... enjoyed my work.

1650 | Caribbean

Fought off a mutiny

1814 | England

I met my dear Elizabeth. 

If it weren't for the war with Napoleon taking me away...