Rating: Teen and up
Warnings: Emotional abuse, thoughts of suicide, thoughts of self-harm
Summary: There’s a monster in Edith’s closet, and it always growls when she upsets her parents.
Inside Front Cover
This is my diary. Don’t read it unless you’re me.
–Edith Rebecca, Planet Earth, Real Universe
There’s a monster in my closet. I heard it growling last night after Dad put me to bed. I wonder if it comes from the Dream Universe. The closet might be one of the places where the boundaries are thin. They are called liminal spaces.
When I heard the monster growling, I put the blanket over my head, because blankets are good monster shields. They block the passage from the Dream Universe to the Real Universe, so Dream things can’t get through. They only work at night, though, so if anything showed up during the day, I’d be in trouble.
I don’t understand my math homework. I’m stupid. I hate myself. Mom was mad because I got a bad grade on my last test, and she walked out again. I ripped up my test and threw the scraps into my closet so the monster could eat them. I want to rip up my skin, too. I don’t know if the monster would eat it, though. It might be a very picky monster. I don’t think a picky monster would want to eat me.
My parents got me a math tutor. She’s a student of my dad’s who does ROTC. She’s very short and has blond hair and a hooked nose. I think her Dream Self is the captain of a ship already that sails through the Dream Stars and battles monsters. There are a lot of monsters in the Dream Universe. Not all of them are bad, though. Or sometimes they’re bad but you can tame them. I want to be a monster tamer, but I’m too scared. I hid in my blankets when I heard the monster growling again last night. I tried to go to sleep, but I couldn’t. Everything was hot and cold at the same time, and my stomach hurt.
I broke a plate at dinner. I hate myself I hate myself I hate myself
Mom walked out again
I don’t want the monsters to get her
My math tutor is very smart. She says I’m very smart, too, and when she explains things they make sense. I’m not smart, though. I wish people would stop saying I’m smart. It will suck worse when they find out that they’re wrong. I screamed at my dad when he said I was smart today, and then I locked myself in my room and cried. He got mad and said he’d break the door down if I didn’t open it, and the monster growled and growled until I was too scared, so I opened the door. Daddy hugged me and told me he loved me and that I was really intelligent. Maybe my Dream Universe self is smart. I wish I could let her take over my life instead. She’d probably be better at it.
I want to go home
What if I’m secretly a queen in the Dream Universe and all my memories were destroyed and I was sent here because my evil regent wanted the throne for himself so I was banished? What if they’re searching for me? Maybe one day they’ll find me and take me back home to the Dream Universe. Maybe there’s a golden palace where I can lie around all day and just eat ice cream and read books. Kind of like WhereYouWantToGoLand from the E. Nesbitt book. And I won’t have to think of questions or be smart because no one will care.
I want to go home
I want to go home
I want to go home
I’ve said that ever since I got really homesick at summer camp last year, and I never stopped saying it, even though I am home. It doesn’t make any sense, and it’s stupid.
The monster is growling again.
I want to kill myself except I don’t want to die? I bet the evil regent from the Dream Universe sent a demon to try to kill me. But it can only hang onto my brain and make everything dark and horrible. It can’t physically hurt me, so it shouldn’t bother me. I wonder if getting hit hurts a lot. Sometimes people raise their hands but they don’t actually hit me, and I get scared, because I’m a coward. But they wouldn’t hit me. I know they wouldn’t hit me.
I’m just a coward. I hate the Dream Universe demon. I wish it would leave me alone.
I wouldn’t come out of my room to see my tutor because I couldn’t do my math homework. I spent three hours staring at the same problem, and it didn’t make any sense. All my friends can do it, but I’m too stupid. Or maybe the evil regent cast a curse on me. So the numbers dance around the page and my head feels muzzy and blurred and screwy, and I stare and stare, but I can’t do it. Mom got mad when I wouldn’t come out of my room, and she left for three hours, and Dad was so worried. He kept calling her and calling her and calling her. If the monsters eat her, it will be all my fault. I sat under my desk and cried. The monster was growling again, but it didn’t really scare me. It’s just white noise. You can get used to anything if it happens for long enough. Even a monster in your closet. The only thing I can’t get used to is how much I suck.
I shut myself in my room and screamed and screamed as loud as I could. I didn’t want to hear my dad telling me to come out. I know I shouldn’t get this upset. It makes the monster angry, too. It upsets everyone. And then I upset myself more by being upset. Plus I’m probably just doing it for attention. I should shut up and quit being an attention whore. Even the monster in my closet hates me.
Dad and Mom were screaming at each other today. I’m afraid they’ll get a divorce, and it will be my fault, because I keep making my mom angry. I say sorry over and over and over again, I follow her around and say sorry, but she just gets angrier. I shouldn’t. I don’t deserve to be forgiven. I’m so stupid and useless.
I shouldn’t say things like that about myself. It just makes everything worse. I should be happy. Everyone else is happy. No one else is getting a B in math. Jonah is doing so much better than me. I shouldn’t be so competitive either. I just can’t do anything right.
I want everything to stop. I want the world to fracture and fall apart, and then the Dream Universe can take over instead. The sky in the Dream Universe is an inverse of the Real one, black stars on a golden sky. Captains like my math tutor sail ships through it and kill monsters. A few special ships catch monsters and tame them. There are so many different kinds of monsters. There are big, hairy, black monsters with eyes like gimlets and long, sharp claws, and there are tiny blue monsters with huge, frilly ears and shiny compound eyes. And there are jellyfish monsters that float through the air and they’ll stick you if you don’t look out. Most people are okay, but some people are allergic to them, like people in the Real Universe are allergic to bee stings. If you’re allergic to a jellyfish monster in the Dream Universe, you have to go around wearing long, white sheets. That’s what ghosts in the Real Universe are. They’re the people in the Dream Universe who are allergic to the jellyfish monsters who wandered into liminal spaces.
Dad and Mom started screaming again, and I just heard the door bang. The monster in my closet is roaring so loud, and I’m under the desk, and I’m so scared. Mommy is going to be eaten. Or she’s going to be hit by a car. She’s going to die, and it’s going to be my fault. If I tamed all the monsters, maybe she’d be safe. If I was better, she’d be safe.
Dad is telling me to open the door but I can’t I won’t I’m too scared
He’s going to break it down
He’s telling me Mom’s leaving him
She’ll leave and then it will only be me and I hate me. I don’t want Mommy to go. I don’t want my mom to leave. I don’t want to be me. I don’t want anything. I don’t want to exist. The monster is howling so loud. Why cant dad hear it do you have to be a queen that’s a joke I’m not a queen I’m a useless stupid horrible bitch who cant do anything right and I made my mom leave and I’ll make my dad leave and I don’t care anymore
I’m going into the closet
Maybe the monster will eat me
Edith held her hands over her mouth to stop herself from screaming. If she was going to go into the closet to fight the monster, there was no point in not being prepared. Screaming would only alert it to her position. At some point, her father had stopped pounding on the door and left—maybe to go and call someone who would break the door down. So there was nothing to disguise the noise she made as she shuffled across the room and paused in front of her closet.
She might as well go armed. She reached onto her bed and stripped off the top blanket, then tied it securely about her shoulders. It was only barely sunset, but the blanket might still afford her some protection against the monster, even inside its lair. She also picked up the foam sword she sometimes used to fight her friends. It would make a serviceable weapon.
Right. Time to go, then. She paused briefly in front of the closet doors and reminded herself that she was useless and might as well be monster food. Besides, the Real Universe and the Dream Universe weren’t really real, anyway. There probably wasn’t anything in the closet. It was probably just her imagination. But if it did eat her, she wouldn’t exist anymore, and it wouldn’t even be her fault. Easy-peasy.
Although a little light filtered into her room from the street-lights outside, it was still very dim. Her heart was thumping in her throat, the blood pounding in her head as she put her hand on the closet door-knob. Everything was completely silent. Digging her nails into the palm of her hand, she winced. She couldn’t even press hard enough to break the skin, unlike the heroines of her favorite books, who routinely cut open their hands to get blood for spells or invocations or just to swear allegiance or sisterhood to someone. Ugh.
She was stalling. With a final angry sigh, she reached out, turned the knob, and opened the closet door.
The monster inside her closet was extremely large. It was one of the really big, black hairy monsters she had described, with long claws on each of its seven double-jointed fingers. The eyes were wrong, though. They were large and brown and liquid, like baby seal eyes set in a formless monster face.
Edith blinked at the monster. “I didn’t think you were exactly real,” she said, because she felt as if she had to say something.
“I’m not exactly real,” the monster said back. It had a deep-throated, growly voice like the bark of a German shepherd. “I’m from the Dream Universe, remember?”
“Are you going to eat me?” Edith asked plaintively. “Because I probably won’t taste very good, but you probably should anyway.”
“Of course not!” the monster said. “Your Majesty, I would never eat you. You’re important to me.”
This was all wrong. “No,” said Edith. “No, no, I’m not important, I’m worthless, you’re supposed to eat me.” Tears were pricking at the backs of her eyes already, and it was so hard to push them back down that it was giving her a sore throat and a stomachache.
The monster sighed. “That’s not true,” it said gently. “Edie, sweetie, will you step into the closet for a minute?”
Her heart thumped unpleasantly. Maybe the monster couldn’t eat her unless she was actually inside the closet. But it could have just told her that. Maybe it was trying to make it easier for her to be eaten. That would be oddly kind of it. “Fine,” she said, after a minute. “I hope you do eat me.” She stepped forward, feeling her skin and spine tingle as she crossed the threshold from her room into the closet.
The monster put out its big, long arms, and pulled her close. This near to it, she could smell dark earth and something like wet dog. Its fur was very soft. “What are you doing?” she asked.
“I’m giving you a hug. I think you need one.”
The tears welled up in her eyes and trickled down her cheeks, and the sobs followed after the tears. She couldn’t stop them. “I don’t deserve a hug,” she sobbed. “Besides, you’re always growling at me. Why would you do that if you didn’t want to eat me?”
The monster put a hand on her head. “I’m sorry, I guess I fucked that up,” it said, the obscenity sending a shocked, confused frisson through Edith. “Uh,” it continued almost immediately. “I mean, I guess I screwed that up. I’ve been trying to watch over you.”
“Why?” she asked hopelessly. Big fingers scritched cautiously at her hair, and that felt so good, so safe, that she was crying into the monster’s soft fur and getting snot all over it. “Why would you ever, ever bother with me?”
“Well, because you’re the queen of the monster tamers,” the monster said. “A little bit. Also because you’re my best friend, even if you don’t remember that.”
“But the growling…”
“Oh, Edie, I’m so sorry,” the monster said, tightening its big arms around her. “I wasn’t growling at you.”
Copyright © 2018 by Mertiya. All rights reserved.
2 thoughts on “Here There Be Monsters”
I really enjoyed your story, I love how you totally subvert it at the end! Edith’s voice is so clear and emotional, thank you for sharing it!
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A lovely storylet
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