The Anatomy of a Monster
Mom swirls the water in a circle when she’s filling the tub. There’s a plastic mug she uses to pour the soapy water over my hair to rinse the shampoo out. I giggle and look up at her and she’s smiling.
When someone dies, we think it’s like they are gone. But not all dying is the same.
A Monster knows this. I thought he was The Monster the first night we met. But Monsters have friends too. They look like people too. They dress up in scrubs and maybe they get haircuts. They for sure get tattoos.
It was a bad, bad dream. Dylan had the same dream. So, we felt better. I felt glad to have Dylan as my roommate, since we both had bad dreams sometimes.
Miss Alisha filled the tub in the bright bathroom. The water came out of the faucet way faster than the tub at home, but I wanted the tub with the slow, rusty faucet. I wanted mom to stir the water and shampoo my hair.
Miss Alisha said, “come on my darling my little Seany Shoe, it’s time to take a bath to be a brand new you!”
I watched her. She had a sweater on over her scrubs. It was like a bunch of threads with giant buttons. She held her hand under the running faucet and then rolled up her sleeve and started stirring the water.
She looked over at me. “Cutie pie why are you laughing at me silly? Tell me, tell Miss Alisha. I love to laugh,” she said waving at me to come closer.
Now that I saw her stir the water like mom I wanted to get clean. I wanted to be a brand new Seany.
Miss Alisha said, “ok feel the water, is it just perfect?”
It was! It was just like mom would make it.
Miss Alisha waited and after a minute seemed confused.
We walked side-by-side. I wanted to grab his hand. Sometimes we looked at each other before Walow took Dylan one way and Tow took me another.
The Monster lives in the bathroom too. Little men in the pipes that see everything. They never forget.
The Monster is good at giving tests. To make me strong and smart. The Big Monster, the one Walow and Tow know.
After each test we were marched back to our room.
“You think the Big Monster gives them tests like they give us tests?” Dylan asked when the wedge of light grew thin.
“Maybe. He must be huge. He must be really scary.”
“He is! And he like knows all the stuff. Walow he told me that me and you are gunna lose our mom and dad if we keep this up and definitely if we tell.”
“Did he plug in tonight?”
Plugging in was scary and hurt. I felt my tummy and everything move like it was gunna come out every time Tow plugged in.
“No he made me face the wall in the quiet room and pushed my face against it then asked me if we wanted to stay for 6 months, I said no sir, he asked if we wanted to lose our mom and dads and I said no sir. He said all the rules and made me promise to tell you everything he told me. Then he made me stand in the dark and said if I moved one inch he would plug in.”
I thought about the quiet room.
“What about Tow?” Dylan whispered.
“Same but he took me to the bathroom. He said the same stuff then locked me in there in the dark and said if I cried or turned the light on he would plug in. He made me sit in the empty tub.”
Miss Alisha kept smiling and said, “its perfect right sweetie?”
“Okay get on it.”
A ball was in my throat. I didn’t know how it got there but it blocked the words. A traffic jam.
“Before it gets cold kiddo,” she said, not frustrated one bit.
I put one leg into the bathtub and Miss Alisha stopped me and said “Seany what are you doing sweetie no, no sweetie hold on!”
“Am I in trouble?”
“No, umm, Seany why do you have all your clothes on silly?”
“Are you gunna stay with me?”
Miss Alisha helped pull my shirt off. Soon I was in the warm tub and as she shampooed my hair she sang softly…
“little Seany Shoe I like you,
I just can’t help myself from adoring you,
Little Seany Shoe its just plain true
There’s not another boy quite as cute as you”
She smiled and tapped my nose. I giggled and looked away.
“Little Seany Shoe you can wipe those tears
You’re safe and sound so no more fears,
My darling Seany Shoe where are you?
Why my precious boy do you seem so blue?
Do all Monsters know they’re Monsters?
The sheets smelled clean. Always. The blindfold smelled like the pillowcases.
Squeeze the edge of the bed Dylan told me once. “And no matter what don’t cry,” he told me looking away. “Just hold your breath and grind your teeth and say yessir. Then its over.”
So that’s what I did. And Monsters love rules too but its just that they have different rules.
I squeezed the edges of the bed and thought about Miss Alisha singing.
Little Seany Shoe, where’d you go
If you were to die I’d miss so…
Little Seany Shoe you’re a grownup man,
Tryin to stay the course, doin all you can
The little boy in you didn’t really die
Pull em out from hiding look em in the eye
The Monsters run amuck but we can win. How to go about it well, I couldn’t tell you how to begin.
What are Monsters made of?