2013 Summer Creative Writing Contest ~Honorable Mention~

A Monster for Miss B

by Lydia Zilahy

A Star Goes Out

There is an absence of fear in childhood that makes us so much more receptive to the spirit of Wonder. It is this unseen, yet lively spirit that encourages us to peep under our beds in the dark, under mushrooms for sleeping fairies and allows us to send our voices out to the stars, where the winds carry the secrets of our hearts.

As we grow older, we begin to concern ourselves with “the matters of the world” – by which adults mean matters of great importance. Thus, we no longer refer to time as “the day after I spoke to a singing squirrel” (squirrels seldom speak, if you really pay attention) and demonstrate our maturity by quoting the date, time and year.

I was not at all concerned yet with matters of great importance on the evening after I had discovered that cats prefer riddles to any other game when I stood in my nightgown, slippers touching the moonlight on the carpet, to listen to the bell-like chatter of the Stars.

A chill ran up my body, straight through my nose. I found that after the goose-bumps had passed, there remained a light in my heart. This, I discovered, is how the Stars call to you. I got the distinct impression the Star calling to me was a tiny glow off to the left (or, if you are rather important: off to the east). I can’t say exactly how I knew she was calling me; to this day, I am certain of it. She joyfully told me that she was just about to go out.

I was shocked and said “how terrible! Does it hurt at all? Would you like to hold Rosie?”

While I would have preferred not to part with Rosie, my doll, I couldn’t think of anything else to offer the Star that would no longer be.

She smiled and replied “keep Rosie safe and warm in your bed, it doesn’t hurt at all. I am excited! I cannot remember when I got to sleep with the rest of the world and wake to daylight. I think I will like that very much and I am sure there are great things ahead.” I nodded. She continued “but before I go, I still have one wish left in me. I have been saving it; every Star has their one wish. I would like to give you mine before I start my new adventure.”

Of all the Stars in the sky, here was one granting me a wish! Before I thought long and hard about my wish, I said “Star, please send someone to watch over me when you will no longer be here in the night!” I knew then that she had always been there for me, although I had never known it before. She smiled, twinkled and vanished right out of the night sky.

I waved and said quietly “goodbye!” By this time, I was rather sleepy. I snuggled in under my sheets and held Rosie tight against my cheek. Before I closed my eyes, I tucked my blanket under my toes and took a close look at Rosie. She was the same; warm, happy to be in bed with me and sleepy too. I knew then that the Star not altered Rosie in any way. I wondered if my wish had come too late, if in her last twinkling the Star had not heard me. Before I could wonder any further on the fate of the star, a wave of dreams rolled over my head and carried me off into the deep of night.

While the little Miss B slept, the contents of her closet did not. There, hiding behind the rows of skirts, jackets, pants and other such things, the spirit of Wonder quietly traced the lines of a secret door. He had been bid to by the Star to do so, and spirits must always heed the requests of the Stars.

It could be moments or hours before the owner of this particular door would come and investigate, but Wonder hurried away to avoid questions.

Yet the Star would never have asked the spirit to trace such a door for a monster. Or rather, she did.

The Perfect Sandwich

Eliot had been in the middle of fixing himself the perfect sandwich. He had cut two, thick, fresh pieces of rye bread he had purchased that very morning. He spread marmalade crust to crust, ensuring that the whole surface was sufficiently covered. He then placed a good swirl of yarn (red, his favourite)  in the middle, topped it with a vertical layer of sliced pickles, some more yarn (yellow for variety) and finally a horizontal layer of pickles. He brought the halves together like someone closing an accordion on the final note of a tune. The sandwich emitted a satisfying wet smack and Eliot carried it to the set of monogrammed luggage he used as a sofa.

He thought it very fine luggage. It was a burnt copper colour with a gold monogram on each piece. The gold letters were: B.A.A.Z. Eliot had no idea what a “baaz” was, but he liked the sound of it.

Eliot was what they called “unattached”, the only one in a long and glorious family tradition of honourable, hard working and tender guardians. His closet was located on the south bank of a whole village comprised entirely of closets, attics and crawl spaces. Most of the inhabitants of Dust Bunnies & Lost Socks lived in a modest closet such as Eliot’s. Occasionally, a high-end attic became vacant, but he had grown quite fond of his cozy closet and had been accumulating precious items in it for years.

As he ate his sandwich, using his sharp, long canines to break off large pieces, he felt pleased with his home, his life and his perfect sandwich – especially the tang of a good pickle on red yarn. He did feel that there was something missing in his life, but would never openly admit it at family gatherings. Everyday, he woke with the secret hope that today might be different, that today he might find his purpose.

From the time he had been a little monster, not much more than a mossy green mop of fur, he had been waiting for his Attachment. By and by, his friends grew up and became Attached; he did not. For 100 years, Eliot was free to wander the human world through the network of in-between-places: closets, landings, attics, under stairs, under beds, and some even dared to try elevators.

As the first pickle and yarn bite went down, Eliot felt a slight, ever so gentle tug in his furry chest. He waited to take another bite. Nothing happened. He shook his head to clear it and lifted the sandwich once more. As he crunched trough the crust, the pull was unmistakable this time. He felt it, right at the centre of his heart. He began to worry. Heart disease ran in his family, but he was a young monster still, in the prime of his life.

He hardly had time to allow his worry to escalate into panic as the next feeling was no tingle; it yanked him right off his luggage and straight into the air. Eliot was not a light nor a small monster, weighing close to 800 pounds of muscle and fur, and so he was in a state of amazement as he passed his kitchen, went through his bedroom (his closet was large enough to contain all of the necessities) and found himself at the back of the closet. The wall hummed and Eliot began to realize, as his heartbeat thudded in his ears, that the hum and his heartbeat were synchronized.

Fear jumped from Eliot in one, monstrous shadow and slunk back to the kitchen in hopes of finding the sandwich. Fear, you see, is a ravenous creature. Its hunger is never satisfied. Love, on the other hand, is not. It was Love that replaced Fear in Eliot. At that very moment, Love had sifted through the shaggy fur, passed gently through tissue and bone and had found Eliot’s heart.

A fine heart it was too. It was full of hope, humility, kindness and Love saw that she would be most welcome. She had a long but very quick journey. As the Star had died, she took her leave. When Miss B had wished for a new guardian, Love had been guided as she shot through time and space to Eliot. His heart had called and she had heard – she had also smelled the pickles and yarn.  She settled in his heart quietly. She counted to three very slowly. One…two…and on the three, she used all her might and shone.

Eliot stood transfixed before the humming door, not knowing what to do. Time stood still for a moment until he felt a sudden burst in his heart. His whole body was overtaken with the sensation of light traveling through his veins. He closed his eyes and listened to the humming. It suddenly all became clear to him.

He knew that on the other side of that wall was his child. The tug, the burst of light and the humming wall were all part of his Attachment. After 100 years, he had been chosen to watch over a child. A dying Star had given him a purpose.

He closed his eyes and a tear fell down into his fur. He had begun to doubt he would ever be called, ever have a child to love. He knew not by what circumstances the Star had died and placed this child in his care, but she had. He had no doubt his was a little girl and that through the wall was the way to her closet, in the world above.

As he reached out for the wall, a golden doorknob grew out of the wood. As his paw closed around it, he felt that it was warm. He heard a voice coming from somewhere deep within. It asked “do you accept?” Eliot whispered back “with all my heart.” As soon as he uttered these words, the knob began to turn.

The Witching Hour

There is a time in the dead of night when anything can happen. Amongst creatures of the underworld, this is called the Witching Hour. At this very hour, Love in the heart of a monster turned the gold handle leading into Miss B’s closet.  As the handle turned, the girl woke and her ears began to ring.  It was a staccato march she heard, marking her monster’s solemn first entrance.

Eliot walked in the vast swath of moonlight that skirted the edge of the bed. It was the first time in all of his 100 years anyone but a monster had seen him. His green fur looked so soft and beautiful in the dim light of the moon. He smelt like cinnamon, cloves and yarn. She was unafraid.

Eliot took one great step out of the moonlight and lifted the little girl, all in one breath. Cradled securely together, they said nothing.

The stars looked on as a beautiful monster nuzzled a sleepy little girl in the dark of night. The Star’s last wish had been granted. Although no angels from above answered the call of guardianship, this little girl had someone much, much better. The Star had sought the perfect monster for Miss B.

As most Stars will tell you, guardian angels are overrated anyway. All the luckiest little children have monsters. Miss B one of the luckiest of all.