Mommy doesn’t understand. She tells me monsters aren’t real, tells me nothing is under my bed or in my closet, that nothing’s going to hurt me.
She’s right about one thing. There’s nothing under my bed or in my closet.
It’s outside my door, talking to Mommy, hiding in plain sight.
It came here a while ago and started sleeping in the same bed as Mommy.
I lie awake every night. Listening. Listening for any screams. Listening to make sure Mommy is okay. Listening to make sure she doesn’t get hurt.
If I hear something I think sounds like a scream, I jump out of bed and walk to Mommy’s bedroom door. I open it slightly, slip through the crack, and stare, watching the monster for hours not moving a muscle. Mommy’s face is so pale it blends into the pillow. The only way I can tell it’s even there, is the bright red halo of hair around her. The monster has dark skin and scars. Its skin is not nearly as soft as Mommy’s. That’s why I never touch it.
Once I’m certain it’s not going to hurt Mommy, I go back to bed. Every morning, I get out of bed, get dressed, then stand next to the door. I press my ear against it to listen for the monster. Every morning, I hear nothing. But when I walk down the stairs it’s always sitting at the table, waiting for me. Mommy always brings it eggs and bacon.
I never express my concern to Mommy. She wouldn’t understand. She’d send me back to that place with the padded white walls and bright lights—that place where my only company was a bed, a toilet, and my own troubled thoughts. I stayed there for at least three months. By the end I realized that the reason they hadn’t released me was because I was trying to create my own entertainment: tearing the stuffing out of the pillows, talking to myself, and banging my head against the walls. They thought I was crazy. And I know I am. But they don’t need to know that. So instead I lie in bed all day. They finally let me out. I never want to go back.
I need to find a way to get rid of the monster without Mommy’s help.
Mommy doesn’t understand.
She looks at it in a way she never looks at me. I know she loves it. The monster was a siren, and I was Mommy’s ship. She abandoned me to swim out to meet the monster, only to be its next meal. When I look at Mommy, I can’t tell if she’s still swimming or if she’s already been devoured. Either way, I can still save her.
The only way to get the siren’s song out of Mommy’s head is to destroy the siren.
Tomorrow, I’ll be ready.
I walk into the kitchen and grab a cast-iron skillet and a silver fork. I go to the table and stare into the monster’s eyes for one last time. For once, I’m able to smile at it. It smiles back. I pity it. It has no idea what its life was coming to. I raise the skillet and bash it into the side of the monster’s head. It will be less painless if the monster’s unconscious.
I stab the fork into the place where its heart should be, if it has a heart. I giggle with excitement as I watch the blood run down its chest. I know Mommy’s going to be safe now.
Mommy runs into the room. She freezes and stares at the limp body lying on the kitchen table. Then she sees the bloody fork in my hand. “You killed him!” she screams. “You horrible girl! What have you done!” She rushes to the monster’s side. She cradles its head in her arms and sobs. I stand and watch.
Mommy doesn’t understand. She’ll thank me later.
Flora Galena is twelve years old and lives in Taos, NM. Her parents are both published writers and have always encouraged her to write. She’s obsessed with the idea of the supernatural and macabre. She considers herself a horror writer. She is particularly interested in the idea of sweet young children turning out to be not so innocent.
WHY WE CHOSE TO PUBLISH “Mommy Doesn’t Understand”:
The subject matter of this piece is sometimes borderline for us, but two things pushed it into acceptance pile. First, it’s a strong, tight flash piece that hits hard with its unexpected outcome.
Second, it’s written by a twelve-year-old author, which makes it even more unexpected. Flora Galena is the youngest author we’ve published to date. If this piece is an indication, we see great things in this young author’s future.
On a side note, Rick read this first (our normal process) and passed it to Rosanne without telling her the author’s age so she wouldn’t be biased one way or the other. And he passes a piece to her only if he feels it might be right for us. She accepted it without hesitation because it was such a strong piece and was very surprised at the author’s age. We proud to showcase such young talent.