Monstrous Things

      20 Comments on Monstrous Things

It was the right time to leave. I would miss the savory taste of Amira’s screams on my tongue and the comforting way they filled my belly. I didn’t want to leave my home under her bed with those pesky dust bunnies and that forgotten doll, but things weren’t the same lately.

Some sunsets back, I transformed into a spider-snake, her latest fear. I slithered out from under her bed in a coil of mist. Positioning myself just so that the night-light would cast a bigger, more ominous shadow on the wall, I bared my fangs. She was asleep, curled up in her yellow chicken pajamas, mouth slightly open. An ambulance passed by the house. A lot of them did nowadays. Before I could hiss or make scuttling sounds on the headboard, Amira woke up, jumped off the bed and lay flat on her belly, hands wrapped around her head.

Ma rushed into her room. “It’s just an ambulance, sweetheart, just an ambulance.” She said, rocking Amira’s trembling body in her arms.

“So we don’t have to run out now?” Amira asked. Her eyes were drooping back to sleep.

“No, baby. Sleep now.”

She fell into a deep sleep. I went hungry that night.

She had stopped going to school. Instead, her mother gave her lessons in the hall. They practiced running out of the house; called them “drills”. A shrill, whistle-like sound rained from the sky at times. And then they would run out, Ma following Dad with Amira in her arms.

The neighbor’s kid came by to play sometimes. They played “soldiers”, took turns shooting one another with a tree branch and pretending to die with their tongues stuck out. Sometimes they traded sharp metal pieces they’d found on the road, as if they were gems. The whistling sound came more often, at random times.

Yesterday, I followed them after the roars from the sky and the booms boxed my ears. “Take cover!” Dad yelled. Metal pellets rained down as they ran into an underground room outside the house. I squeezed in after Amira. A kerosene lamp and a few tins of food stood in the corner. Spiders and milky white maggots crawled on them and the mattresses.

The earth shook with loud, reverberating booms. They huddled into a tight human ball, their gaunt, hollow cheeks touching. Amira looked straight at me. Something bigger had replaced me in those sunken, leaf-green eyes.

She couldn’t feed me anymore.

It was the right time to leave.

***
Photo by Dom J from Pexels

20 thoughts on “Monstrous Things

  1. Sue W

    Oh Hema, how do you do it? It was the right time to leave, when there is real danger to be frightened of, the imaginary flies away. I love the way you did that. Thank you

    Reply
  2. Anna

    Wow, wow! You have written such a beautiful story here. The backdrop of war is captivating. I also love that your opening and closing lines are the same. It pulls the story together very nicely.

    I loved how you managed to weave symbols of childhood innocence into such a tense environment.
    For example, when you said, “They played “soldiers”, took turns shooting one another with a tree branch and pretending to die with their tongues stuck out.” and ““So we don’t have to run out now?” Amira asked. Her eyes were drooping back to sleep.”

    Excellent writing here, I think! I’m not great at critisicm and I know that everyone can always improve, but I truly love this story.

    PS: “Some sunsets back” is such a unique way to mark the passage of time! I love it.

    Reply
  3. Anna

    Wow, wow! You have written such a beautiful story here. The backdrop of war is captivating. I also love that your opening and closing lines are the same. It pulls the story together very nicely.

    I loved how you managed to weave symbols of childhood innocence into such a tense environment.
    For example, when you said, “They played “soldiers”, took turns shooting one another with a tree branch and pretending to die with their tongues stuck out.” and ““So we don’t have to run out now?” Amira asked. Her eyes were drooping back to sleep.”

    Excellent writing here, I think! I’m not great at critisicm and I know that everyone can always improve, but I truly love this story.

    PS: “Some sunsets back” is such a unique way to mark the passage of time! I love it.

    PPS I tried to post this a minute ago but my page crashed. I don’t see it when I refresh so I’m hoping it doesn’t double-post! haha

    Reply
    1. mixedbag Post author

      Thanks for that lovely comment, Anna! My site’s been acting up for a while now, it messes up the comments sometimes. Thanks again, your comment made my day!

      Reply
      1. Anna

        You’re very welcome! Your story was so good.

        PS Life swept me up and I now realize I’m replying to this an entire month later! O_O I’m sorry haha

        Reply
  4. innatejames

    That was sobering. The opening scene of her ducking at the sound of an ambulance let me know right away that something isn’t right here. I really liked the moral you conveyed. Children do grow out of imaginary fears when immediate threats are near. I couldn’t parse what was meant in the sentence that starts “I turned myself into a gust of wind…” Should “last sunset” be cut?

    Reply
    1. mixedbag Post author

      Thanks, Nate! The gust of wind was just to show the monster’s invisible, which was totally an afterthought. Editing it out now 🙂

      Reply
  5. d3athlily

    I know I already told you, but I have to tell you again, how much I just adore this story. I loved the scattered pieces of information at the start, and I thought of the London bombings as I read this piece. The real will always trump the imaginary.

    Reply
  6. Laura

    You did a great job revealing the real world through the monster’s perspective. The horror of this little girl’s life is even more chilling because of how indifferent the monster is to it. You might take another look at the first sentence: right now it reads like screams are also filling home under the bed and the dust bunnies.

    Reply

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