The chorus of “Happily ever after” roused me from my stupor. Even from the living room I could hear the bored edge in Elise’s voice; it was as predictable as Kari’s enthusiasm or Allan’s singsongy tone, and as strained.
Storytime was finished. I headed to Kari’s room to say goodnight, but paused outside the door when I heard her speak. “Daddy,” she said, “is that how it was for you and mommy?”
I held my breath, sincerely wondering how Allan would answer. But it was Elise who answered: “Of course not. Mom’s not a princess.”
Kari laughed, but Allan didn’t miss a beat. “She is to me,” he said.
I crept away as quietly as I could, unsure whether the sound I suppressed was a sob or something more like bitter laughter.