This is the first chapter of an unfinished children’s fantasy I’m writing…something in the line of the Oz books, or The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland. At the end, I share I map I drew of the land of Malila…where she ends up (of course).
Sophie scrunched down under the covers and shivered. Ten years old was more than old enough to sleep without a teddy bear. Ten years old was more than old enough to sleep without a night light.
Ten years old was more than old enough not to be afraid of the monster in the closet
Mom and Dad had never believed her. Oh they said they did. But Sophie could tell.
They had not understood how upset she was when Aster disappeared. The blue bear had sat on her bed ever since she was two years old. The night the Monster had first appeared.
The next day Grandma had brought her the bear. “She will watch out for you,” she’d said. “I promise. No monster will dare cross the threshold as long as she is with you.”
Grandma had believed her.
But tonight was different. The Monster had only gotten loose once since Aster came. And Grandma had been babysitting that night. The Monster had retreated at the very sound of her footsteps.
But tonight she was on her own.
Oh she knew what had happened. She swallowed, hard. It was those horrible measles. She had been delirious while in the hospital, and she had clutched Aster all the way through it. Of course they had “disposed” of her because of the germs.
She was just a stuffed toy, Sophie told herself. It doesn’t matter. Besides maybe I really did dream the Monster.
From inside the closet came a faint thud.
Or not, she thought. She sat up, tense, staring at the closet door. A thousand frantic ideas ran through her head.
Flashlight? She kept one under her pillow.
The bedside lamp? Would the Monster retreat at the light?
Where was a good baseball bat when you needed one? Why didn’t she play more sports instead of being such a girly girl!
Should she bolt now and make a run for the door? Or just scream good and loud if the Monster showed? Mom and Dad would think she was crazy.
Unless the Monster got her first.
Another thud. Something rattled inside the closet. Pound, pound, pound. Like a hammer. Or a giant fist. The door shuddered beneath the assault.
Then suddenly it burst open.
The shaggy monster crashed over the threshold and stared at her with glowing green eyes.
Sophie did not scream. She turned on the lamp and stood straight up in bed.
“I’m not afraid of you anymore,” she said and clutched a pillow in her fist. It wasn’t much protection but it was better than nothing!
The creature moaned, cowering to the floor and covering it’s eyes against the light. Sophie realized with some shock that it didn’t look so fierce anymore.
For one it was much smaller than she remembered. The huge glowing eyes, were bright green and shaped like a cats. Tusks sprouted from its large snout. And its shaggy, striped fur–gold and orange–grew wildly in every direction. It needed a good brushing. The mane of reddish hair growing down its neck and flopping into its eyes gave it an cute, appealing look.
“Help me!” It squeaked.
She stared. “Did–did you say something?” she said.
The creature wagged its head. It peeked one eye from behind its paws. Despite herself, Sophie felt a smile tug at the corners of her mouth.
“Help!” it repeated.
She lowered the pillow and crawled to the edge of the bed. “Help how?” she said.
“I’m scared,” the monster said.
“Scared of what?”
“The dark.” The monster shuffled closer to the bed. Sophie felt instant sympathy. She knew what that was like.
“Don’t be scared,” she soothed. “Why, the dark can’t hurt you!”
The creature finally glanced up and its green eyes were reproachful. “It’s not the dark, it’s what might be hiding in the dark. Do you realize for eight years I’ve been trapped in that hideous closet and I couldn’t get out? I was so afraid.”
“Of the dark?” She said.
“Of you!” The monster shuddered. “You have a blood curdling scream. And that little creature you kept with you. It might have hurt me!”
“How do you know that?” she asked. “It was only a toy–”
“I heard what the old lady told you!” The monster frowned at her. “You know she said it. I was afraid.”
“Well there’s no need to be afraid anymore,” Sophie said. “See? I’m not going to hurt you. Why, I was afraid you might hurt me but see how nice you are!”
“Really?” The little fellow peered up at her hopefully.
“Sure.” She smiled and patted the bed beside her. “Look, come up here with me. We’ll keep each other safe tonight. Tomorrow you can tell me how you got in my closet.”
“Oh thank you!” The little monster jumped clumsily, tripping over its long, hairy kangaroo feet. It caught itself with long ape-like arms and snuffled under the covers beside Sophie. She caught a whiff of it’s sweet scent–like cotton candy, bubblegum and lollipops.
“This is nice,” it yawned and closed it eyes. “Night, night Sophie.”
He knew her name! “Say, what’s your name?” she whispered back.
“Shagfry.” It murmured. “That is me.”
When Sophie awoke, her bed was floating. On a rainbow.
And where are they headed? Well…
Comment below if you’d like to hear more of Sophie’s adventures and the land of Malila!