There’s a monster under my bed.  I put him there myself.

He’s half shadow, half solid night, with white smoky eyes and rows of long crooked teeth.  I found him in my basement under the stairs, no bigger than my teddy bear, stuck under a box that had fallen from its stack.

I’d been careful freeing him, of course, because I’d seen his teeth and didn’t want them clamping down on me.  I pushed the box off of him with a broomstick and waited at a distance for him to scamper away.

Instead, he limped over to me—at least, it looked like a limp.  It was hard to tell, since he was half shadow and I couldn’t actually see his feet.

I sat down and held still, trying to keep from frightening him.  I also held my breath, trying to keep myself from being frightened.  I didn’t know how to act around monsters, but I knew a bit about how to act around frightened animals and I hoped that would be enough.

He looked up at me with his round white eyes, a small whimper coming from somewhere inside, and I let out the breath I held.

He crawled into my lap, and I dared to reach out my hand and touch him.  He felt cold, and soft, and a little bit not there.  I gathered him in my arms and he pressed himself into my ribs and right then I knew.  I knew I wouldn’t let anything happen to him.  He was mine and I would take care of him.

So I grabbed an old jacket lying nearby and draped it over my arms, smuggling him as I dashed upstairs to my room.

He lives under my bed now, and I think he eats my nightmares.  Sometimes when I’m trying to sleep, I dangle my hand off the edge and he sleeps just under it.  Sometimes, when the night has gone still and the clock ticks past midnight, he crawls onto my bed and curls up next to me.

He doesn’t feel as cold as he used to.  A little more solid too.  His rows of crooked teeth don’t scare me anymore.  If anything, I just complain about his bad breath.

I curl myself around him when he presses himself next to me.  I fall asleep so much faster with him there.  I find I’m not so afraid of the night anymore.

Not since it came to me as a small lonely monster.

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