writing exercise #56: on monsters

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It waits under the bed, of course it is under the bed, tropes exist for a reason, don’t you know? I have to pee, but I’m afraid that once my foot lands on the floor, the monster will snake its arms out and grab me by the ankle. Will pull me under. You laugh, but one time I read a short story about a husband who laughed at his wife’s obsession with keeping the top sheet tucked in around her feet, enough so that finally she felt silly and agreed to leave it untucked. You can guess what happened next easily enough, can’t you? The last thing that husband saw of that wife was her hand scrabbling at the duvet as the monster yanked her below.

No, she wasn’t on the floor, don’t be insane, don’t you know how these stories work? She was gone, vanished, taken away to monsterland, courted by Hades and fooled into eating pomegranate seeds. Or chained inside a box. Or made to watch as others were burned alive. Or told she was nothing. They removed what was inside her heart and left her to die on the rocks.

Yes, it is terrible. You can see why I’m afraid to get up. But I really have to pee. If I can step out far enough away with my first step, maybe the monster won’t be able to seize me. What? Because it has to stay under the bed, so it can only grab what’s within reach. And it can only catch me when I’m getting out of bed, not in.

Yes, there are a lot of rules for monsters.

It’s always been like that.

It doesn’t make them any less dangerous.

How do I know so much? Because I’ve lived around monsters a long time. When I was a child, a monster lived in the hollowed out trunk of the tree in the front yard of the house across the street. We used to read books in there sometimes, but then it turned out there was a monster there and our parents wouldn’t let us cross the street any more. And there were monsters in the boys gym in high school. I think they must have lived in the showers, the kind of monsters you can’t see until they slide into your body and you find yourself doing awful things. Some of those boys did awful things. And my old neighbor had a monster in her closet. She told me. I told her to take all her things out in the morning, leave the doors open, let the sun kill it off, install lights so she could always see every corner – yes, they won’t survive being exposed, don’t you know anything about monsters? – but she called me crazy, said she was only joking. Well, it wasn’t a joke when the police showed up because no one had heard for her for weeks, was it?

Yes, it was terrible.

I’m getting up before I wet the bed. See that slant of daylight starting to come through the window? I think I’ll be safe now.
Laugh all you want, but you should take note of something.

Oh, you want me to tell you? Let me get up and pee first.

OK, I’m going to gather my things and go home – I need to get to work. What? Oh, right. Take note of something. Well, my dear, as you should know, laughing at or refusing to believe in monsters has never made them go away. Don’t you watch scary movies? Those storylines exist for a reason. And so you might want to stop and think about that. Because the monster in question?

It isn’t mine.

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