There is a monster under my bed. And I know… I know what you are thinking. That I am crazy, but it’s the truth. I met the monster, who calls himself Greg, although I have doubts that’s his real name, when I was only three years old. I’d accidentally left my foot over the side of the bed and Bam… Hello Greg.
Initially he’d tried to scare me, because either it’s his job or his enjoyment, but when he realized he wouldn’t frighten me, we became fast friends. I’d stay up at night to play Jacks or a monster game called Quartei, which I hate to break it to Greg, but that was simply Tic Tac Toe, not some fancy monster invention. Or he’d read stories to me as I drifted off to dreamland. Greg and I had learned and practiced our reading together in the early days of our friendship.
How were you not scared of Greg? You’re wondering. Well, he might look scary with his scales, horns, and the weird fang in the middle of his forehead, but Greg was a marshmallow inside. Although he kept the secrets of the monster world to himself, Greg always listened when I had issues in the human one. He’d even gotten a couple of bullies to leave me alone… I never asked how, and he never offered that answer. I thanked him for his help and happily enjoyed the bruise-less freedom.
It had been twelve years that we've been best friends. And now… my parents are forcing me to move away from the only home I've known and the monster who lives under my bed.
Greg sat on the floor in the corner and watched as I continued to load books into a box. “Can’t go,” he snarled.
“Keep your voice down, Greg. My parents will hear you,” I murmured.
“I said no.”
“Yeah? Well, we don’t get a say in it. I’ve got no choice but to go with them.”
Greg scooted closer to me and placed a claw on the book I went to grab. “Where are they taking you?”
“Grance?” Greg tapped his claw against his scaly head. “I’ve never heard of Grance.”
I snorted a laugh. “That’s because I said France, Goob.”
“Ahhh. France. We’ve read of this France with the lights, savory pastry, and fancy mustaches.”
“Oui. Oui.” I acknowledged in my worst French accent.
“That seems far away.”
“It’s an entirely different country. So… pretty far.”
“Why are they stealing you from me?”
“Because my dad got a new job.” I gave a depressed half-hearted shrug.
“Gah.” He twirled his tail around in a circle, like he always did when he was upset. “Charles.” He sneered my father's name like a nasty bug on the bottom of his bare slimy foot.
I plopped down next to him and sighed. “Yeah. Charles is making me move…”
“I could eat Charles if it would make you happy…” Hopefully, he looked at me and grinned, flashing his dark black teeth. “It would make me extremely happy.”
“Uh… no. I love my dad, Greg. No eating him.”
He harrumphed and went back to swinging his tail.
“What are you going to do when I’m gone?”
Greg tapped his teeth together as he thought about the question, then his shoulders hunched and he glanced at me under his purple eyelashes. “Scare the next kid who’s room this is… I guess.”
I nodded. “You could be friends with them. Then you won't be alone.”
“Not everyone is as kind as you’ve been. But I’ve been without human companionship longer than I’ve been with it… I’ll be fine. You mustn't worry about me.” Greg pulled a wrapped gift from inside the floorboards. It wasn’t the first time he’d stuck his hand into my floor and pulled something out… I never asked how. He handed me the package.
“Open it and you will see.”
I tore open the gift and a shiny box with black mirrored sides and a tiny silver button sat in my palm. I went to push the button, but Greg stilled my hand.
“You can only push it once. When you need me for an emergency, hit the button, and I’m there.” He held up a single claw. “Once.”
What a precious gift I’d been given. I knew little about the monster world, but I knew there were some hefty rules to maintain secrecy but I knew they weren’t allowed to travel from their assigned homes. It was an honor to be given this box.
“Thank you so much!” I hugged him and wiped his slime off my hands onto my pants.
He flushed a bright red and shrugged. “I mean, whatever, it’s no big deal.”
“Right.” I placed the delicate box on my nightstand for safe keeping and stood to finish packing the boxes.
“When are you being stolen?” he asked.
“Moving. Not being stolen. But we are leaving next week.”
He wrapped his scaly arms around my leg and peered up at me. “Stay. You could come live with me in the monster world.”
“How? I’m human.” I sighed. “Plus, my parents would miss me.”
“This is their fault… who cares about them? I don’t want to miss you.”
“I know.” I patted his rough head, and he loosened his grip on me. “But a human can’t live in the monster world.”
“That’s not entirely true…”
I paused with a book in my hand and slowly turned to him. “What do you mean, it’s not true?”
He let his eyes roam around the room, refusing to look at me, and tapped his tail on my wooden floor. “Well… technically, all monsters were once humans.”
The book slid from my hand. “What? You were human?”
“Long ago. Like hundreds and thousands of years.”
I slid back to the floor next to him and blew out a slow stream of air. “Whoa. How’d you end up like this?” I waved towards him.
“Ah. I did some terrible things and my punishment was either live in the monster world or…” his words faded as we both heard my mom walking towards the room.
When she pushed open the door, he was gone, and I sat alone on my floor. She smiled at me. “Hey, Pumpkin, it’s super late. Why are you still up?”
“Can’t sleep. Thought I’d pack.”
She sat down on the bed above me and ruffled my hair. “I know this is hard for you, pumpkin. It’s going to be an adjustment for us all. But it’s also an adventure. Can we try to think of it that way?”
I nodded, and she kissed my head before leaving me alone in my room. I waited for a while, but Greg never showed back up. “Greg? Greg, she’s gone. You can come out now.”
Greg never returned to me. He never said goodbye. He’d left that night and I never saw him again. I called for him, yelled for him, and pleaded for him, but he remained gone. My family and I moved to France, where I placed the black mirror box on my dresser for safe keeping. It’ll collect dust before I ever try to call my monster again.