Hope was on the captain’s deck, commanding her space pirate crew. It was a narrow escape from the planet of Blimphlus, but they were leaving with a huge treasure and with only a handful of monsters chasing after them. They might just make it… A tentacle landed on the control panel with a loud bang!
The little girl opened her eyes, waking up abruptly.
She jumped out of bed, scoping the room around her. It’s ok, she told herself firmly. It was only a dream.
Or was it? She could have sworn she just saw a tentacle crawling at her feet. She sped outside of the room, slamming the door shut behind her. There was a monster in her room! She had no clue what to do.
Luckily, she knew who would.
The girl peeked into the room next door. “Daddy?”
“Hope! You’re up early?” Ralph yawned. He studied his daughter’s face. “What’s wrong?”
“Um, nothing.” The girl looked over her shoulder nervously. “I… there might be a monster under my bed. But I’m not scared.” She added quickly, worry apparent in her face. “I’m a space pirate, remember? I just… thought maybe you’d like to look.”
“I would love to,” Ralph nodded. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen a good monster.”
They ventured into the hallway. Hope stopped before the door to her room.
“You’re a space pirate,” she whispered to herself. “You can do this.”
Ralph smiled, kneeling next to the girl.
“It’s ok, sweetpea.” He told her. “Even space pirates get scared sometimes.”
“They do?” The girl asked uncertainly.
“Of course! They’re exploring the galaxies, running into all sorts of dangers… It would be silly of them if they were never scared. Being scared just means that our body is telling us to watch out.”
“You’re never scared, though!” Hope pointed out.
“Not most of the time,” Ralph admitted. “But there was a time when I was terrified.” He grew serious.
“So what did you do?”
“Well, luckily I’ve got this fellow over here to help.” Ralph pulled out an action figure. “It’s Captain Duckhorse!”
“Like from the old books?” Hope asked. “The ones that great-great-great… hm… how many greats did that grandpa who wrote them have?”
“Exactly like from the old books!” Ralph said. “As for the greats… I’m not sure. You better ask your mom. But I can tell you one thing about the great grandpa, he sure knew a thing or two about superheroes. Everything he wrote in his books, Captain Duckhorse can do! So as long as we have him with us, there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Ok.” The girl took a deep breath.
“Shall we go have a look at that monster?” Ralph asked.
“Let’s see what we’ve got here,” Ralph examined the foot of the bed. “Looks like a classic example of a space monster.”
“It’s from the planet Blimphlus,” Hope told him.
“Ok, I know just the thing that works for Blimphlusese monsters,” Ralph said in a serious tone. “I believe this is the liquid solution Captain Duckhorse used.” He sprayed under the bed generously. “That should do it.”
“Thank you daddy!” Hope tackle hugged him.
“Don’t thank me! I’m just along for the ride,” Ralph smiled. “It’s your adventure.”
“So… what if the monster comes back?”
“You’ll know what to do. You’ve got Captain Duckhorse, after all!”
The girl smiled. “It’s getting light outside.” She looked out of the window. “I’m not sure if I can go back to sleep. I mean, there might not be a point…”
“How about we get you dressed and go play with your puppet theatre for a while?” Ralph suggested.
Hope was deep amidst performing a play by the time Carly came into the room.
Carly observed them silently, listening to her daughter alter her voice and watching Ralph’s animated reactions. She almost didn’t want to disturb them.
You had to give it to Ralph, he was a great father, Carly smiled to herself.
“Morning Lottie!” Ralph greeted her without looking away. “I can feel you looking.”
“Sorry to break up the party, guys.” She told them. “But it’s time to have a quick breakfast and set off to school, Hope.”
“But we’re having so much fun!” Ralph protested. “Five more minutes?”
“It’s ok,” Hope emerged from the booth, giggling. “I guess we’ll play later. Here’s Captain Duckhorse back, daddy.” She handed Ralph the action figure.
“You have him.” Ralph said.
Hope shook her head. “You can keep him. Well. Until I need him again. But I’m ok now.”
Everything seemed a lot less spooky in the light of the day. Hope decided that if the monster came back again, she’d confront it and see what it wanted.
They ate breakfast together, and Hope was ready for the school bus.
“Learn lots and stay out of trouble,” Carly told the girl.
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” Ralph winked.
“I’m a space pirate, I can’t make any promises.” Hope said.
“You know, a lot of space pirates don’t listen to their moms.” Ralph informed Hope. “But that’s because no other space pirate has a mom as clever as yours. She knows everything. So if you listen to her advice, you’ll come back from all of your adventures… which means more adventures!” He grinned.
Hope seemed to be mulling that over. “I guess that makes sense. I’ll be good.” She sighed.
“Thanks for that,” Carly gave Ralph a peck on the cheek. “You’re so good with her.”
“You’re not too bad yourself,” Ralph smiled. “Besides, I meant what I said. Hope’s lucky her mom stays on the ground when her dad gets carried away. Means we always come back from space when we need to.”
Carly laughed. “As long as you do.” She pulled him closer.
“Maybe we could open the shop a little later today…”
They arrived at the store, passing Vito’s photo studio on the way. Ralph beamed. It was shaping up to be a great day already.
And that was before they even opened the door into their kingdom.
They’d only opened their shop recently, but it had gained quite the reputation in Newcrest. Partially due to the fact that one could find almost anything there, from books to artefacts, from practical furniture to obscure knickknacks… depending on the day.
It was popular with folks looking for a bargain, or an unusual piece for their home…
And some people just loved it for the ambiance. Especially the bookworms.
Ralph was always in his element at the shop, turns out he not only enjoyed making and sourcing some of the goods, he also had quite the knack for talking people into buying them.
Meanwhile, Carly would stick to the more routine tasks like ringing up customers, restocking and inventory… unless book recommendations were involved. Which, to be fair, happened often. Half the store was filled with old books with the most delicious smells. Carly adored it.
Before they knew it, closing time rolled around.
“I can’t believe we sold the bathtub!” Carly laughed giddily. “A wooden bathtub…”
“You’ve got to have more faith in my craftsmanship,” Ralph said. “I reckon I shouldn’t stop at making the bathtub a one off!”
He started scribbling on a piece of paper with a focused frown. Carly admired his determination for the moment. She shook her head with a smile, making herself comfortable on one of the stools for sale:
“I have the utmost faith in your craftsmanship,” she corrected him. “Really, lately I find myself spending most of my time being impressed with you.” She gave him a timid smile.
“Well, the bathtub is one of my finest pieces yet,” Ralph lit up. “We should definitely make it a part of the regular stock. Or why stop at that… let’s make a whole range!”
“I wasn’t just talking about the bathtub, Ralph,” Carly said gently.
“Oh, really?” He seemed flustered. “I’m guessing you didn’t mean my ogre statue either.”
Carly laughed. “Hope loves that one though! But then again, she loves anything you do. And… I kind of do too.”
A wide grin spread across Ralph’s face.
“You know Lottie, this is just the beginning though.” Ralph squeezed her hand in his. “I know I’ll need to spend the rest of my life proving myself to you, and that’s exactly what I want to do. You’ll see.”
Carly shook her head. “You don’t have to prove anything Ralph. Not anymore. You already have, a dozen times over.”
She looked into his eyes. “But I do like the sound of the other thing you said. About the rest of your life. The rest of our lives.”
“Lottie… are you saying…” Ralph was speechless.
“That it’s about time we went through with that wedding? That’s exactly what I’m saying.” Carly said. “I do still have that ring, after all.”
Ralph picked her up in his arms and twirled her around.
“This feels like a déjà vu,” Carly laughed.
“Maybe, in a way,” Ralph pondered. “But I think it’s different.”
“This time, there really is no more secrets.”
They got the shop ready for locking up, though Ralph had been rather extra affectionate while tidying up.
“Hey Lottie… thanks for giving me another chance.” He said. “I won’t let you down.”
“You better,” she laughed. “But one thing though, Ralph…”
“What is it?” He looked panicked for a split second.
“We’ve got to sell that weird waiter statue,” Carly winked. “I swear it’s been staring at us this whole time. Creeps me out!”
Ralph laughed with relief. “Consider it done!”
Author’s note: I will be putting the shop on the gallery, but it’s actually on the same lot as Vito’s photo studio, so if you’ll want it you’ll need to download both (of course you can easily knock one or the other down). Also, you’ll need to check CC on in search to find it because the photos in the studio stupidly count as CC. As usual the origin ID is ThePlumbobBlog.