It was the right time to leave. The monster under the girl’s bed knew this, but he was having trouble accepting it. The monster outside the window left two years ago; the monster in the closet left just last month. The monster under the bed wished them well in their hunt for new positions. He was not yet ready to face the uncertainty of unemployment, but in truth, the monsters were becoming redundant.
The girl was seven years old. She talked to her teddy bear about the boy who was mean to her at school. The monster under the bed gathered that the boy had been reprimanded. No doubt the adults thought one stern lecture would be sufficient, but no one knows better than the monsters under the bed the enormous reach of small traumas, not to mention the expansive hurt that can be inflicted by one uncorrected heart.
The monster under the bed can hear the news from all the rooms with screens, which is every room but the girl’s. It speculates on and rehashes pain, both past (which is to say current, because no pain stays behind) and forthcoming, both known and hypothetical, while offering few explanations and fewer solutions. The girl hears it, and even if she doesn’t quite understand all of it, she understands that something in the world is wrong. The light of day is less reassuring; the darkness in her room at night is more frightening.
The monster under the bed began to make preparations. One more week.
The girl arrived home from school in a rush of running footsteps, a thunk onto the mattress, and sobbing barely muffled by the loyal teddy bear. The mother arrived; between sobs, the story came out. The girl had had to hide under her desk to practice what to do in case someone came to the school to hurt them.
The monster under the bed can’t compete with the monsters out there. He doesn’t even want to. The girl needs a refuge. The other monsters figured that out long ago.
At sunset, the monster under the bed left. When the girl wakes up crying, at least it won’t be because of him.