Inspired by the Panic at the Disco song of the same name.
"A story, right, to pass the time? Not like we've got much better to do, seems to me." He sniffed and peeked around for any objections from the flicker-lit faces. "Lesse. To get us warmed up, whyn't I go first?
"This is a story 'bout a little girl gone to a carnival. She'd gone with her parents n'all, but somewhere in the glitz and glitterworks of it all she gets herself separated. She wanders 'round, peekin' up at the twisted, made-up faces, paws peddlin' sad-faced teddies and cheapo trinkets when the lights come down and all the people start threadin' their own ways back home.
"This poor girlie, she tries bouncin' up to see her parents over the crowd but she doesn't recognize a single face. Not a one. And whenever she tries askin' for help people just shrug her off their elbows.
"Then, though, she hears a voice, spots a scraggled man awavin' from his booth a games and, well, she toddles o'er, trustin' as anything." Skeet paused, arms hovering over his knees. He winked. "The scraggled man, he grins at her with teeth like shattered candy corns, asks her if she wants to play a game. If she wins, he says, she'll get a'mazin prize.
"And 'course the girl's bubblin' happy as he tells her just wing a ball in one of them fish bowls to win. These fishbowls, now, are bunches a sizes and colors and she can see light flickin' off gold scales. Well this girlie lobs the ball, tringin' 'em off rims and walls a prizes 'fore one whops right in the water.
"The boothman tips that lucky bowl up and fishes out the prize while she's abouncin' and clappin' her little fists."
"What bull," Clay muttered into the meat of his arms. He lifted his head, eyes sleep scoured. "It's one of those stupid religion stories - a metaphor thing. Some little story a priest'd tell." He glared, twisting his mouth, "The fishbowls are really different sects and it turns out the prize when she gets it right is heaven or something."
I blinked at him while Skeet tentatively lowered his arms, wrists slack over the kneecap. He gnawed thoughtfully on his lip.
Clay wriggled up on his elbows. "Now I know lots of stories. Like the one where a kid finds the fabric of the universe but he rips a big old hole in it, or the one where the President hands over the nation to some kids in Halloween costumes 'cuz he thinks they're evil aliens."
I drew my knees up under my chin as the two studied eachother over the fire.