Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Things that go bump in the mind

A monster lives under Ali's bed. Cliche, but true. Ali's monster knows he doesn't exist. He's been told a thousand times, yet he persists.

The monster comes out in the dark and disappears with the flick of a light switch. He's in league with the wind, the bats, and occasionally even the windmill outside. The monster has deep, painful scars.
I thought I could, I thought I could.

At bedtime, I ninja-kick the monster, and Papa drags his hairy carcass to the door. When he returns, Grampo punches him till his teeth fall out like glitter, and Ali bites him with her tiger teeth. Then we hoist him onto a spit and gather for a monster BBQ (monsters taste like chicken).

But the monster slogs ever onward on like Casey Junior. The childhood brain is cavernous - like chasing a bubble under plastic, the monster just goes to another mental corner when pursued.

After bedtime is declared, there is always the squeak of a doorknob, the pitter-patter of frightened feet, and the world's littlest whisper: "I'm afraid of the monster!"

If you prick me, do I not bleed?
Most nights, the best defense is to lay there together, camouflaged in a blankety snuggle against the elements of imagination. Eventually, the combined snores of mama and daughter convince the monster that it's safe to drop tools and skulk back to Monsterland for another night, there to seek medical attention for lost teeth.

I like to picture the monster as I fall asleep on guard duty. In my mind, he is a kicked dog gripping a styrofoam cup of weak tea in some faceless, suburban NHS monster dental clinic.

He mumbles to himself, quietly cursing Maurice Sendak for giving his kind a bad name. He traces the outline of where his teeth used to be with the tip his tongue, and his fingertips wince as they run over tiny tiger teeth marks on his arms. He wishes he could forget the cold feeling of hard earth under his backside, and how piercing the stars look when he finds himself alone again in the darkness on the wrong side of the door.

"I coulda been somebody", he insists to the empty NHS waiting room. One of these days he'll pack it all in and run off with the circus.


  1. Charming again, Rachel. It would be great fun sometime to gather monster and imaginary friend stories from parents because I think we all remember them and forget just when it was that they fell away. Gloria

    1. Thanks Gloria :) When the monsters fell away is an excellent question. I suppose over the years, they start gathering dust bunnies with all the other forgotten toys under the bed, until they are eventually taken out to Good Will. Which is another reason for key to pity Ali's poor monster.

  2. Hi, haven't been by in a while... love all your recent stories as usual. We've had no monsters lurking in the darkened corners of our house as of yet, just many, many bad dreams... that come often as an excuse for mama to snuggle with the wee ones rather than the other way around.

    1. Never miss a change to snuggle the wee ones I say. They are the stuff of life after all :)