There was once a stern man who had a rambunctious daughter. No matter what rules he insisted upon, she was determined to break them.
“No cookies before dinner,” the man said, but she ate a cookie anyway.
“No running in the house,” the man said, but to and fro she ran.
“No playing outside,” the man said, but she returned with twigs in her hair — so he slapped her. His daughter fell to the floor, where she stared at him with wide eyes, so the man told her, “Don’t poke the bear.”
From then on, whenever his daughter disobeyed him, he slapped her. When she lost a mitten, he slapped her. When she left muddy footprints inside the house, he slapped her. When she spoke sarcastically to him, he slapped her. The man hit her hard enough to make her teeth bleed, and every time he told her, “Don’t poke the bear.”
Until, one night, the man awoke in his bed, in the dark. He could tell that something else occupied the room, something … large. It was so large, it crowded his mattress. The thing was warm and smelled like a muddy warren.
As his eyes adjusted, the man could also see his daughter, standing beside the beast. She seemed unperturbed by its deep, rank breaths.
“Go ahead,” his daughter said. “Poke him.”
“What?” the man babbled. He could only think to reply, “It’s an expression!”
“Not you,” his daughter sneered. “Him.”
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