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A Monster Under My Bed

For R. M. Stockton's February Write Club Challenge

By K. StocktonPublished 3 months ago 5 min read
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A Monster Under My Bed
Photo by Geoffroy Hauwen on Unsplash

There is a monster under my bed.

It whispers to me. “You can’t,” it hisses, “you wouldn’t, you shouldn’t, you aren’t.”

I am nine years old. My best friend is Gladys. We watch Clueless and make a pact. Tomorrow, we promise, we will each dress in a plaid matching outfit like Cher and Dionne. I uphold my promise. Gladys does not. Snickers fill the classroom. A kind teacher with curly blonde hair and warm, biting humor whispers to me, “I admire your bravery in expressing yourself.” I think that she thinks it helps, somehow. It doesn’t. That night, the monster whispers, too. “Idiot. Outcast. Weird. Why can’t you just act normal? Just blend in and things will stop being so hard. But you don’t know how to do that, do you? Freak.” I ask my mom if I can clean out my closet. “I’m too old for that stuff,” I meekly justify.

I am eleven years old. I am getting dressed for my dance recital. I am six inches taller than all the other girls and my costume is a slightly different color because they had to order an adult size. I don’t want to come out of the bathroom stall. I don’t want to go on stage. I reluctantly dance that day. That night, the monster comes. “Fat. Fat fat fat fat fat. All anyone sees is your big round face and fat hips. You wear the biggest size of adult women's shoes that the store sells. You tower above everyone like a monster, hell-bent on destroying everything you touch. You lumber like a beast.” I tell my mom I don’t want to take dance classes anymore.

I am seventeen years old. I have a crush on a boy in my grade. He asks me to the prom…as a friend. I am overjoyed and tell all of my friends in every conversation for the next week that he’s my date. He catches wind of this and says he doesn’t want to go with me anymore. The monster rumbles with laughter. “Seriously?” it jeers. “You thought he saw you as anything more than the disgusting creature you know you are? Nobody wants you. Nobody invited you to share a limo. Nobody planned group prom photos. Nobody thinks about you except as a punchline.” My mom forces me to attend my junior prom because she already paid for my ticket. I don’t go to my senior prom.

I am twenty-one years old. I have failed out of college and now dropped out of another college. My boyfriend tries to console me by listing off famous smart people (all men, all engineers and designers) who dropped out of college. I feel very small and purposeless. “MORON,” the monster shrieks. “A million people graduate college every year. But not you! No, never you! You’re too god damn LAZY to just GO TO SCHOOL. What is WRONG with you?” I stop thinking about going back to school.

The monster speaks to me every night. Years pass. I starve myself and relish the compliments I earn from that. I go back to school and work myself to the bone - getting a good grade is not enough. I must get the top grade. I can’t just graduate. I must present at research conferences and win awards before I even have a bachelor’s degree. The world ends one inconspicuous Wednesday in March and the monster cackles in delight. “You thought you could change your fate?” it squeals with glee. “You thought you had control? You thought you could be ENOUGH? I take these accomplishments from you. I take your comfort. I take your ambition. Be STILL.”

I am compelled to obey. I am truly alone, for the first time in my life. Weeks pass where my only human contact is a small square on a computer screen. I say what I fear is my final goodbye to my father in a small square on a computer screen. It is quiet, in the concrete box that is my apartment. College ended unceremoniously on an inconspicuous Wednesday in May, one year and two months and one day after the end of the world. Three months pass. I don’t notice them.

I am twenty-seven years old. My best friend is Brett. Everyone says we make an attractive couple, both so tall and blonde. We are not a couple. (He’s made that very clear.) I left my grad school applications unfinished. My summer job has ended. I sit in the waiting place. My concrete box feels like a sarcophagus.

I stare at a full bottle of Tylenol on my bedside table. “You’ll be unconscious long before you would suffer,” comes a sweet voice from under my bed. I feel cold, clammy hands softly grasp my ankles. “Aren’t you tired? Haven’t you had enough? It’s time to stop fighting. It’s time to sleep.”

I am panicking. I am terrified. The monster is right. (She’s always right.) I don’t want to do this anymore. I call my best friend Brett hyperventilating. “Help me,” I sob into the phone. “She wants me and I’m not strong enough to fight. Please. Please help.” I have never told anyone about the monster before.

In less than twenty minutes Brett is on my couch holding me. I am wrapped in my pink satin comforter and drinking an iced chai latte. I am shaking. Brett turns on my Xbox and loads up a game. He’s terrible on purpose, driving straight into lampposts and walking over ledges. I am still shaking, but now I’m laughing, too.

I am twenty-nine years old. The monster under my bed is quieter these days, but I know her better than I know myself. “You don’t have to hide,” I say casually one night. “It’s dark and cold under there. Wouldn’t you rather sit here on the bed with me, and enjoy this crossword puzzle?” A long moment passes in silence. I feel a cold presence float up beside me and settle. My phone starts playing a medical mysteries podcast. I take the monster on vacation with me and she finds that bed in that creepy old house in that creepy old city quite pleasant. We go on walks together. She sits on the bed with me each night.

I am thirty years old. The monster lays with her head on my lap and I stroke her hair. “We got the email today,” I say quietly. (She’ll always hear me. She knows.) “We’ll be moving in a few months. All the houses have wooden floors there. Cold and smooth. I can get a new bed frame. You can help me with my homework this time.”

There is a monster under my bed. I do not resent her. She simply is - could I resent one of my arms, or a fingernail? She is loud when she needs something. I have learned to listen. She has learned to ask. I stroke her hair each night and she writes pages upon pages in our little green notebook.

There is a monster under my bed.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis like I did, please call or 988. You don't have to face your monster alone.

NB: I actually wrote this over a week ago and it got stuck in approval purgatory. Stupid auto moderators!!!

My dad talks about this website so much that I feel I know all of you already. I was inspired by the prompt he supplied for the February Write Club Challenge, and by all of your amazing entries that he reads me over the phone each night. I'm excited to be here and submit my own work, too! Challenge info here:

recoverydepressioncopingCONTENT WARNINGanxiety
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About the Creator

K. Stockton

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Comments (2)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran3 months ago

    I am considered very tall for a girl. I always got bullied at school for my height, because I seemed like a giant compared to other kids. They called me fat as well. No boys liked me. So your story resonated so deeply with me! I too have now become friends with my monster. Sending you lots of love and hugs ❤️

  • Your monster was singing out with delight that your story was snagged in review, but you get the last word! Great story, Kalen! I love you, kiddo! You know I think you are immensely talented.

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