Monster waited in darkness. He waited like a poisonous spider trapped in his own web, waiting to capture anyone who dared near its lair. Darkness like an evil cloud hung over a pit, his cave, like a mourning veil, never letting anyone see what lay beyond its covering. From deep inside the pit, Monster heard laughing.

Grace giggled on the swing, laughing in pure innocence, not realizing a monster was so close; just down the hill and under the dead apple tree, so close, but so far. Grace jumped from the swing, her bare feet landing on the ground with a soft thud. She wiggled her legs, feeling the moist green grass tickling between her toes. A soft breeze blew her long brown hair, feeling like her mothers breath on her cheeks. Grace looked up expectantly, a smile forming on her lips. Her dark eyes sparkled with curiosity. The wind, she wondered, who's breath is the wind? She lay on the ground, thinking, feeling, knowing that she was alive, that the grass was alive and the wind, in one sense or another was also alive. The girl closed her eyes at the sky, letting herself dream dreams of angels and butterflies.

Monster, hiding deep with in his lair growled: he could smell the sweet child's skin only a little ways away. Yes, he thought. A child, so sweet and pure like the rain in clouds. Monster was hungry: hungry to eat, hungry to taste the sweetness, wanting to take a piece of her beauty and innocence and digest it forever.

Grace giggled in her sleep, seeing things in dreams only children see, the wind tickling her in that way that only children feel.

Monster, who hadn't moved in centuries, stood up, his old bones creaking in misery. He took a step, wanting, seeing, breathing the child. One step out the cave then another, closer . . . closer, he could almost taste the soft skin and the pure blood in her veins. Go on, he begged silently. Wake up. Scream. Notice I'm here. Tell me why you are innocent. Explain to me your beauty. Tell me truth for I am lies.

But Grace did not awake. She was completely unaware of the evil approaching; only the wind knew what was coming. Grace shivered as the wind turned cold, and a monster appeared in her dream. Grace opened her eyes quickly in fright, her lips moving, her mind wondering, "is there a monster in the garden?" The wind blew in her face and the sun sparkled in her eyes, but it was wrong, different. Grace's brown eyes saw the dark cloud under the old apple tree, her curiosity wild with hope. She stood, walking slowly towards the cave.

Monster cowered inside his cave. Never had anyone come so close to his lair without his evil calling. He heard the child step closer, nearer to his cave, until she was in front of him, staring at his ugly form.

"It's alright," Grace told him. "I saw you in my dream. I am here to show you, to teach you. Don't you know? Come on!" Grace held out her hand, waiting.

Monster shook in fear; what if he didn't like the truth? Once he left his cave, he wouldn't be able to enter it again. But then, simply because she was, he took her tiny hand into his ancient evil paw. Then she dragged him outside, showing him the beauty that he never saw before.

"See," she said, her voice full of wonder and amazement. "This is a rose, smell it."

Monster lowered his face and did as she asked. It was wonderful, the smell was so sweet he wanted it to last forever, but she pulled him away.

"Come on!" she said. "There is more." She showed him each blade of grass and told how it tickled your toes; and then the clouds, how each one is a story. "See, that one is the rabbit who jumped over a candle . . . and that one looks like it could fly like a bird, see its wings?"

Monster laughed at her creativity. Soon the sun began to set and she showed him colors in the sky: blue mixed with reds and pinks and purples and even very faint greens. He sat so enthralled that he didn't even notice that she was gone, back to her family, back to her mother. But still he watched until the stars came out, each one twinkling like a million diamonds.

Back to Fiction