This story is by Victoria Lorenz and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
‘Okay… Don’t. Freak. Out,’ Lilly thought nervously.
The young girl was lying on the plush carpeted floor of her bedroom, her arms propped up on a cushion, reading a book.
It had started to get darker outside, dusk settling earlier and earlier these past weeks, now that summer had turned into fall. Although currently still at home all by herself, Lilly knew that her mom would have admonished her for not turning on the lights, saying the she was ruining her eyes reading with bad lighting, but Lilly just hadn’t felt like getting up, still too immersed in her book.
She had been turning the page, when something moving under her bed had caught her eye.
Startled, Lilly had stopped her reading and taken a closer look at the dark space underneath her bed.
A pair of green eyes was staring back at her.
Lilly blinked rapidly. The vivid imagination Mommy always claimed she possessed must be playing a trick on her mind.
But the green eyes remained, not breaking eye contact.
Lilly could feel her heart flutter.
“Um… hi,” she said hesitantly, becoming acutely aware of the distance between herself and her bedroom door. It wasn’t that far away. And she was a fast runner. She should be faster than whatever was hiding under her bed.
The eyes blinked twice and a low hum sounded. It didn’t sound that scary, but more like the purring of a cat, if a bit deeper. It would have been a reassuring sound if Lilly hadn’t known for sure that her family didn’t own a cat.
“I’m Lilly,” the little girl introduced herself, trying to be polite. Mommy always said that it was important to be polite.
The eyes just kept on staring.
Lilly could feel her heart hammering against her ribs. This lack of response was unnerving. Still, the brave little girl ventured on:
“What’s your name?” she dared to ask, thinking that maybe the monster was polite, too.
Apparently not, since she received no reply.
“Do you have a name?” Lilly continued to ask, now determined to coax a reaction out of the monster – and finally, did her question evoke a response:
The eyes lowered their gaze and another sound erupted, this time more similar to a whimper.
Lilly interpreted that as a no. All of a sudden, the little girl felt sorry for the monster under her bed. Not having a name must feel awful and lonely.
Fortunately, Lilly had an idea how to rectify the situation.
“Would it be okay if I called you Blinky?” She proposed to the monster.
The purring sound returned and the eyes blinked twice again.
Lilly took that as a yes.
“Okay, then,” the little girl said, starting to feel excited, “Have you been here long, Blinky?”
The girl frowned.
“I didn’t notice you before, sorry,” she apologized, feeling rude for ignoring her newfound friend.
“I guess I was too focussed on my book,” Lilly mused, before asking the monster under her bed: “Do you like books?”
The eyes looked at her questioningly.
Lilly gasped: “You don’t know any books, do you?”
The eyes blinked twice, confirming her suspicions; the mere thought of not knowing any books made the little girl sad.
“I could read you something from the book I’m reading right now, if you’d like,” she offered, waiting for an answer.
“It’s by Astrid Lindgren. It’s really good,” Lilly added, still waiting.
When the green eyes blinked twice once more, she smiled.
“The story is called ‘Nils Karlsson, the Elf‘,” the girl explained, then began to read aloud:
“Bertil stood looking out the window. It was getting dark…”
Lilly had been reading to her monster-friend for about ten minutes or so, when she could hear the front door opening, announcing her mom’s return from work.
The little girl stopped her reading, looking at Blinky. The green eyes were big and panicky-looking.
“That’s just my Mommy, you don’t have to be afraid,” Lilly tried to calm the monster.
“She’s really nice – I’ll introduce you!”
With the big green eyes still nervously flitting back and forth, Lilly could tell that her reassurances hadn’t managed to allay Blinky’s fears. Nevertheless, the little girl remained confident.
A minute later, and the bedroom door opened. Lilly’s head whipped around, smiling at her mother, who was standing in the door frame.
“Hi sweetie, I’m home,” Mommy said, flipping on the light switch: ”What are you doing in the dark?”
“I was reading to a friend!” Lilly explained excitedly, pointing to her bed.
The little girl’s eyes were trained on her mother, impatient to see a reaction to her new friend. Mommy just laughed good-naturedly.
“It’s really nice of you to read to Mr. Owl and his friends, sweetheart,” Mommy said, smiling, ”but next time, please turn on the light, yeah? We wouldn’t want you to ruin your eyes.”
Lilly opened her mouth in protest; couldn’t her Mommy see that she wasn’t reading to her stuffed animals, but to her new friend under her bed?
It was only then that Lilly took a look at the space where Blinky had been all this time and noticed that the big green eyes were gone. The light that reached the space under her bed didn’t indicate that there wasn’t anything but soft carpet and a rumpled pair of worn socks.
What had happened to Blinky?
Lilly closed her mouth again.
Mommy was already on her way out of Lilly’s door:
“Dinner is ready in five minutes.”
The little girl made use of that time inspecting the space under her bed more closely, but to no avail – Blinky was nowhere to be found.
With a deep sigh, Lilly turned off the lights and made her way to the dining room.
Lilly was getting ready for bed, staring contemplatively into the mirror while brushing her teeth – where had Blinky gone? Had the monster been too shy or afraid to meet her Mommy? Or had she just imagined those big, green eyes? Lilly didn’t think so, but how could she know for sure? But maybe Blinky simply had had to leave for dinner, too and hadn’t known how to tell her – Blinky certainly hadn’t seemed like a very talkative monster…
Preoccupied by all these thoughts and unanswered questions, Lilly was pretty silent when Mommy tucked her into bed and kissed her good-night.
“Don’t read for too long,” Mommy told Lilly, bopping the little girl’s nose affectionately, ”I’ll come by and check in half an hour, my little bookworm.”
“Night, Mommy,” Lilly said, burying herself deeper into her pillow, her finger tracing the artfully twisting letters of the title of her book.
The bedroom door made a click sound as it was closed, and Lilly was again alone in her room.
Or was she?
Lilly paused. She considered the book in her hands and the dimly lit room, only illuminated by the small lamp on her nightstand.
The little girl set her book aside and carefully peeked over the edge of her mattress, her pigtails dangling just above the floor.
A pair of bright green eyes stared back at her.
“Blinky!” The girl exclaimed, relieved, “I’m so happy you’re back!”
The eyes sparkled happily and the now familiar purring sound returned.
Now lying in her bed, Lilly could feel the vibrations of that purr reverberate through the bedframe and mattress, causing the girl to giggle. She was quite ticklish.
After her laughter had subsided, Lilly noticed the pair of small, but bright blue eyes next to Blinky:
“You brought a friend!” The little girl exclaimed excitedly, before greeting the newcomer with a soft ”Hi!”
Blinky’s big green eyes blinked twice in affirmation, whereas the smaller blue eyes only glanced shyly at Lilly.
“I’m Lilly,” the girl introduced herself to the newest monster, then asked gently: “Can I call you Iris? Mommy said that’s what the color in the eyes is called and yours is sooo pretty – blue is my favorite color.”
The blue eyes flitted nervously over to Blinky’s, then blinked twice.
“I was just about to pick up where we left off with the story I’d been reading to you,” Lilly then informed the monsters, “would you like to know what happens next?”
Two blinks and another tickling purr. Lilly smiled brightly, her cheeks slightly red from the blood rushing to her head.
“Okay, but only a little bit more; I have school tomorrow and have to get up early,” the little girl told the monsters precociously, before adding: “but once I’m back from school and have finished my homework, I’ll read you some more, promise.”
A short moment of hesitation, then two more blinks.
“Great! Then let’s see what surprise Bertil has in store for Nils!”
With a big smile on her face, Lilly settled back into her pillows and continued reading the story, occasionally interrupted by her giggling whenever Blinky and Iris, her new friends, the monsters under her bed, hummed with delight.