Monthly Archives: October 2012

Grinning Angel -Meaghan Menzel

Every day in autumn and spring, their little girl would skip up the sidewalk from the bus stop, her purple and white butterfly backpack bouncing behind her. She always came through the green front door to say hi to her mother before heading straight for the back door.

“How was your day?” Mother would ask. She would reply, “Fine.” By fine, she really meant, “same as usual,” but then she never told her mother much about her “usual” day at school. Every day she’d ride the grimy yellow school bus 543 to her school, a low building spread out like an X. She’d shuffle reluctantly into to her colorful class with cutouts of fish and inspirational posters, and she’d sit to read silently while the other kids participated in reading out loud, “A… bird… flew… on… to… a… lamp… post.” At recess, she would wander off by herself, sometimes watching the other girls play games like “house.” She had tried to play with them once. She found the game boring and clichéd, and the girls found her weird. She wanted to play games with adventures and troublemaking goblins. The girls have avoided her since then.

“Do you have homework?” Mother always called. Most times she was found sitting on the dull blue sofa in the living room reading, or in the kitchen with her afternoon tea.

“I’ll do it outside,” was always the answer before the girl entered the backyard.

Their backyard was a lavished garden boxed in by a low, black fence with spear tips. Beds of white summer snapdragons accompanied by baby blue eyes, pink balsam circled by yellow evening primrose, and silvery dusty millers framing the violet beauty berries were separated by stone pathways. Along the fences were red roses, puffy hydrangeas, and a few dogwood trees that developed elegant maroon and indigo leaves in autumn. Flower pots of red and gold blood flowers, miniature roses, and signet marigolds were scattered along the pathways. At the very center of this expensive paradise was a small fountain with a statue of a naked angel, his arms cradling a bottle of champagne from which the water spilt.

Angel had curly hair and chubby, cheerful features. His fountain was circled by a bed of pink bleeding hearts and low marble benches. Every day the little girl sat down on the bench directly in front of the statue. She’d sit with her back to Angel to do homework, or she’d face him and talk to him. Angel had lots to tell her. She liked to tell her parents at the dinner table the jokes and stories Angel told of the world inside his stone shell. Mother would smile, asking, “And what did Angel say next?” or “How is our angel this evening?” Father on the other hand always sat silently, chewing forcefully on his food hoping to ignore his daughter’s excitement over an imaginary friend.

Sometimes the child would take out paper and colored pencils to draw with her angel. He liked to pose for her. Other times she would bring out cards, imagining Angel was playing with her. She’d sometimes take her baby doll out with her to play with in the garden before the angel. She liked to pretend Angel was blessing them both with fantastical powers. A lot of the girls at her school played with baby dolls too, but even though their daughter had a cute, lacy doll, she wasn’t friends with any of them.

Every evening, Father would walk in through the front door, kiss Mother hello, and go straight to the back door to watch his little girl. He never went out into the garden to say hi. The beauty of the garden would slowly disintegrate as he watched his daughter talk eagerly and play with no one. He’d rub his temple and stare uneasily at the angel. That grin wasn’t cheerful at all to Father. He’d shake his head and walk away, afraid to interrupt his child’s play.

One evening after dinner he turned to Mother and inquired, “What’s wrong with our daughter?” She looked up from her wine and cocked her head, “What do you mean?” He waved his hand, “She always goes outside and talks to that fountain. Meanwhile she doesn’t talk to anyone at school like that. What’s wrong with her?”

His wife sighed and relaxed her shoulders, “My Lord, there’s nothing wrong with her. It’s normal to have imaginary friends.”

“She’s seven,” Father persisted. His wife just shook her head, “There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a game. At least she’s outside.”

Father closed his eyes and pressed his hands against the dining table, “I had a nightmare last night.”

“I know,” Mother chuckled good-naturedly, “You woke me up.”

He rubbed the back of his neck, “Our daughter was playing in front of the fountain again. But then I think her games and the angel started coming to life. It’s like our world morphed into hers. God it was creepy! The angel’s eyes lit up and he was giggling. It was like an angel out of hell.”

 His wife sighed, “You’re overreacting.” If he heard her, Father didn’t say. He instead headed for the stairs, ending the conversation, sorry he started it. Mother looked down into her wine calling after him, “It was just a dream. Nothing bad will happen.”

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Monsters -Meaghan Menzel

There are monsters in the dark, he thinks as he curls up for the night, his fiery gold eyes wide open. He glances this way and that, waiting for something to jump out at him and scream in his face. A storm cracks the sky open with light and explodes outside. He flinches, ready to call for his mother. He doesn’t though. He hears a creak and a pop inducing him to shut his eyes tight. He trembles as his spiky tail curls securely against his nose, accidentally pinching it. He squeaks but keeps his eyes shut. He decides he doesn’t want to see what is lurking around to gobble him up like the creatures sung in stories and cruel jests. But the monsters he sees behind the curtain of his scaled eyelids are just as bad, perhaps worse.

            They wear no scale armor or fur mantles. They have no wings, no horns, nothing. They’re sickly bare and skeletal. They’re pink and brown and everywhere in between. Their eyes glint like sparks as their faces crinkle, their mouths opening and screaming. They stand on their hind legs while their forelegs extend into metal blades. They decorate their bodies with their dead prey.

            He opens his eyes and cringes, expecting to see something looming over him, arms outstretched with curling fingers. Shadows of ghouls dripping slime and goblins with pointy heads flash off the stony cave walls. Everything is black and blue as rain creates a silvery sheet outside. Lightning flashes. He sees a black figure behind the white light standing on its hind legs. It wears a long sheet around its neck and extends its forearm into those metal blades he’s learned to fear. He scurries backwards on his belly, hunching himself closer together like a spring. Lightning flashes again making him flinch. He sees another shady monster behind the white illumination reaching out for him. He closes his eyes but sees two glowing spots. He’s certain they are narrowed eyes. He opens his eyes again not knowing which monster to be more afraid of— the imaginary ones behind his eyes, or the imaginary ones outside.

            With another trick of light, he sees shadows on the walls, some five times his size with giant jaws and round heads. Some roar with hunger. Some are small but appear in horrible irritating clusters. He hears squeaks like a witch’s laughter which makes his fangs chatter. The cracks on the cave wall form an angry dark eye he wishes would stop staring at him.

            He feels sticky and cold, breathing heavily with whimpers. His heart rate speeds up while his eyes water. He finally throws his head up and lets forth a piercing, raspy roar for his mama.

A family of mice scatters at his cry, two of them running in circles before finding a new hiding spot. One however is blinded by a flash of lightning and stops right in front of him, shivering and staring wide eyed.

            He sees the furry little rodent and wants to cry. The rodent and the winged lizard stare at each other, one of them trembling with fear while the other is frozen with remorse. There is a rustle from the other side of the cave. Mama dragon is up having heard her baby’s cries. The mouse finds the will to move and scurries away from the potential predator. Mama dragon drags herself closer to her little one and her clawed hand slithers around him, pulling him close to her breast. She lays her long neck around him so her face is right next to his.

“Why so afraid?” she hisses.

            “The monsters are back,” the baby dragon whimpers. Mama dragon snorts, her eyelids drooping with sleep, “There are no monsters here. If anything, we’re the scariest thing there is. Just ask that mouse. Now go back to sleep.”

            “What about the naked two-leggers with metal arms?” the baby dragon asks looking up at his mother. Mama dragon sighs drowsily, “They don’t live around here. They won’t catch you. Go to sleep.”

            Mama dragon’s scales are rough and warm like worn leather armor. Her three fingered hand is roughly the size of his entire body. Her wings drape forward, shielding him from the cold and horrible tricks his eyes play on him. He turns around to nestle his head against her breast before settling down, pressing against her. He finally falls asleep, dreaming away the monsters on the opposite side of his reality.

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