“Eeeeee. Grandma, grandma! Come quick,” Abagail cried from the black envelope of her bedroom.
A moment later, a stout African American woman punched the door open with her forearm and flipped the light switch on. Five year old Abagail was sitting upright in bed with her Cloak of Protection pulled up to her chin. She was staring, eyes straining to widen even further, at the closet door which was open just a pinch.
“What’s the matter, child? Why you so spooked?” a bespectacled Grandma Darby fired at the child.
Abagail’s eyes darted back and forth between her guardian and the dark chamber. “There’s a monster in the closet,” she eeked out.
“What’s it look like?” the aged woman asked without skipping a beat. The child wanted to answer but didn’t. “What’s it look like? Look like a rat? ‘Cause I ain’t got no time for no rat.”
“Nooooo,” Abagail protested. “It was ten feet tall with black fur and black eyes and black teeth and…”
“And you saw this with the lights out?” Grandma Darby questioned as she sized up the eight foot high ceiling.
“Well, kinda.” Abagail didn’t seem quite sure anymore. Young but not stupid, the child knew what her grandmother was getting at. Abagail realized how difficult it may have been to get a good look at a black creature lurking in the shadows. “Maybe it was shorter, but just a little bit.”
“That weren’t no monster. That was…Fozzy. Fozzy ain’t gonna hurt you,” the old woman stated like an antiquated fact.
“How do you know?” Abagail questioned as she lowered the protective cloak a hair. “And why does he have a silly name?”
Grandma Darby smiled at the youngster’s naivety. She removed her night cap to reveal creeping grey experiences that sprang in swirls from her cranium. Skootching the pink elephant bedspread aside, she took a seat next to her granddaughter.
“There’s a secret to managing your monsters, Abby. What looks like a monster can seem big and scary, but once you know their real name, they ain’t gonna scare you no more.” The clever child was going to interject but the wise woman cut her off. “Even if you don’t know their real name, you can give them a name and the sillier the better. Oh, now, they really don’t like that but ain’t nothin’ they can do about it.”
Abagail kicked this ball around in her head and grandma’s explanation seemed sound. “So why do they try to scare us then?” Abagail couldn’t figure out.
“Child, monsters are just like people sometimes. They get scared, too, and when they do they try to fight back; makes ‘em feel like they’re in control of somethin,’” Grandma Darby explained. “But when you take control, when you give ‘em a name, when you know who they are, they have no more power over you. Then you become their monster.” The old woman pretended her fingers were claws and made clawing motions at Abagail. “Real monsters are tough, Abby. And because they tough, they don’t have to be mean. You can be a monster, too, but don’t be a mean one.”
Abagail latched onto this idea, that she was a monster, too. She could be – would be – tough, like a real monster. Her confidence soared along with her heart. “I didn’t know all that, Grandma. I think I can go back to sleep now.”
“Good,” Grandma Darby cheered, “I need my sleep too or you gonna see a whole different type a’ monster in the mornin.’ You go to sleep now, child,” the hardened combat veteran of monsters ordered. She flicked off the lights.
“Goodnight, Grandma!” Abagail returned all too lucidly. “Goodnight, Fozzy.” The child laid flat in bed with the bedspread pulled down to her waist. She stared at the ceiling.
Grandma Darby shuffled down the hallway back to her room, confounded. “The things they don’t teach kids no more,” she shook her head rhetorically.
Back in bed, Abagail’s eyes drifted past her feet towards the partially opened closet door. “Fozzy? I can’t sleep. Do you want to play a game?”
All Rights Reserved © June 2016 John J Vinacci