The storyteller was sitting at the end of my childhood bed, his large hands waved wildly about as he planted the tiny seed of a story in my mind. He looked like a Disney grandfather with his light hair, papery skin and peep-over glasses. He was a caricature: he was Giuseppe, Kris Kringle, Dumbledore.
‘And then?’ I asked. ‘And then?’ As if each new heroic feat or twist in the story wasn’t an ending, but a stepping-stone to other more dangerous adventures.
The storyteller smiled and taking my cue continued to weave twist after twist into the story. ‘And then…’ the storyteller said, kissing my forehead and turning out the light, ‘it’s the end.’
‘But it can’t be?’ I struggled to free myself from the constraints of my blankets.
‘It’s not really,’ he said. Standing in the doorway his silhouette made him look like a giant. ‘It’s just a pause until tomorrow. I’ll see you in the morning.’
I took his words as a promise and settled back into bed. ‘Just a pause,’ I nodded solemnly. ‘Goodnight, Dad.’
I was ten years old.
‘Goodnight, Dad’ was probably the last thing I ever said to my father. Not goodbye, not I love you. The End didn’t feature in our story, only the promise of another meeting. Perhaps if I had known then what I know now I would have begged him to stay. I would have made him tell me how the story ends. But I didn’t. I closed my eyes and I went to sleep.