This story is by Sarah Henderson and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
The birds called softly through the branches of the leafy trees. Jade made her way along the familiar path. She kicked a pine cone off the trail watching it bounce into the bushes. As she was going a bunch of vines shot out from the side of the path. They wrapped quickly around her wrist and one around her waist. She screamed trying to pull herself free of them. They tightened, holding her captive. As she struggled a dark figure rose up in front of her. She lifted her eyes to its face. Glowing yellow eyes stabbed back at her. Claws, two inches long and deep red. A scream lifted into her throat tearing through the forest. Everything blurred as she fainted. The monster looked sadly at Jade and then scooped her up gently. He was careful not to scratch her with his long claws as he cut the vines. His eyes were soft as he gazed at her pale face. Quickly he moved away from the hole. Heading deeper into the forest.
Jade rubbed eyes and stretched giving a large yawn.
“Oh man, I had the weirdest dream, there was this huge monster.”
She looked around her. She wasn’t in her house. She was sitting on a large bed. The house was poorly furnished and all the furniture was a little larger than most. Jade stood up quickly. Something moved in the corner catching her eye. It was the monster from before. He was about seven feet tall. He was furry and all black. Except for his eyes and claws. Jade bolted for the door but he was there before her.
“Please don’t run off and leave.” He said in a husky voice.
“If I stay you’ll eat me.” She said.
She tried to steady her shaky voice. He looked sadly at her and she noticed it for the first time.
“I don’t eat humans.”
“And how would I know that I can’t just trust you.”
She began to work her way towards the window.
“I mean I didn’t even know monsters were real, but from all the books I’ve read I don’t think you’re friendly.”
“Not all monsters are bad, sometimes we’re peaceful and just lonely, I’ve never hurt a human in my life.”
Jade was now right next to the window. All she would have to do is jump through and then run.
“I didn’t mean to scare you by kidnapping you, I just knew that you would run away before I could say anything if I just walked up.”
“If you want to go you can, I just thought I might have someone to talk to, but I won’t keep you here.”
He stepped back from the door opening it wide. Jade moved past him. As she did she looked up at his eyes. Nothing in them was viscous or scary. She paused with her hand on the door frame.
“Don’t you have any friends or family.”
Funny she thought to herself. Neither did she. She had been on her own since she was fourteen.
“Would you please stay.”
She bit her bottom lip as she thought. She couldn’t stay here. He was a monster. All this time she had thought monsters and such lived safely inside of her books. It would be stupid to stay with one. After all, she had to get back to her home. Would he try and stop her when she left, would she be safe living alone out here now knowing that monsters were real. She glanced back at him. He did look lonely. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to just tell a few stories.
“I guess I could stay and talk for a little while if that’s really all you want.”
His eyes lit up with happiness. He held out his hand for her to take. She stared at his long claws with horror. He saw the look and clasped them behind his broad back.
“Take a seat, if you please.”
She sat on the chair finding it surprisingly comfy. He pulled a stool in front of her and sat waiting. He reminded her of a young child waiting to hear a good story.
“My name is Jade, do you have a name?”
“Mines Gron, tell me about Cinderella, Snow White, and Peter Pan, stories like that.” “How do you know about those things, I didn’t think monsters read?”
Gron pointed to the wall behind him. It was lined with books all dog-eared from constant reading.
“Where did you get all those?”
“Mostly garbage dumps and sometimes people forget them on park benches and such.”
Jade began to tell him all about everything she knew. She racked her mind for every fairy tale she had ever read. He listened with great interest. She even threw in a few stories she had written herself. About a tree spirit who was wild and never listened, how he was falsely accused and had to run away. How he was tricked by an evil old woman and forced to tell the secret of immortality and was turned into a dragon for his trouble. The story then told of how he had to fight to save a good friend and also the love of his life from that woman and her son. Gron cried at the sad parts and laughed at the funny. For two days this went on. He cooked surprisingly well and they would eat as she continued telling. He would go out into the woods as night leaving her to sleep. When he was gone one time she studied the one-room house she was in. Now that she wasn’t scared she saw that it was quite cozy, he even had a bouquet of fresh flowers on the table every morning. It didn’t seem like a home a monster would live in. At least not based off what the books said about them.
On the third day, he was quiet as he went about making breakfast. She watched him trying to figure it out. Finally, when they had finished eating he pushed aside his dish and looked up at her.
“You probably have to go now.”
Jade looked at her folded hands.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you about that.”
“I’ve been dreading this day for a while now, I knew it would have
to happen some day.”
Jade looked up at him. There were tears in his eyes. She had enjoyed her time here as well and it had seemed to fly by after she had gotten over her fear. She grabbed her sweater from off the end of the bed and went to the door. He smiled.
“I enjoyed the stories you told me, now I have some new ones to tell myself when I get lonely.”
His sad eyes seemed to call out to her. She reached out and took his hand. He started to pull away, not wanting to scare her with his claws again. But she held it tightly and lifting it pressed her lips tenderly to it.
“I will miss you Gron.”
He smiled showing his row of jagged teeth. She turned to walk away.
“Wait a minute, there’s no reason why I can’t stay, I have no one.”
“Oh, Jade would you, stay here I mean and tell me stories.”
“Yes and I can fix up your house so that we can have our own rooms and make it even cozier, I’ll even bring some of my things over, and I can bring all the books I have.”
“Then neither of us will ever have to be lonely again.” He said.
Gron reached forward pulling her into a hug.
“You are the kindest human I have ever met. Jade noticed that he smelled kinda like pine trees.
“And you are the nicest monster I have ever met.”
“And you are the nicest monster I have ever met.”