This story is by Pamela Witzig and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Eight-year-old Sara Jordan thought Halloween was just silly. Even so, she joined friends at Michaela’s house party for the occasion. Most of the third grade class attended. Minnie Mouse was there, a couple of witches and nearly every Disney princess. Boys came as tramps and all variety of goblins. Sara just wore face paint that her mom had quickly made to look like a skull. She didn’t want to look pretty. Wearing just jeans and a sweater, the thick blonde ponytail was left uncovered as well. Her once shimmering blue eyes appeared dull and vacant. The circles of black paint around them seemed somehow suitable. Girls at the party ran from ghosts and vampires in pursuit. Their shrill squeals hit a decibel unnerving to Sara. When Frankenstein did his menacing straight-legged march toward her, she just rolled her eyes and asked the hosts for directions to the bathroom. Sara was more creeped out by creatures like Batman’s Joker with his evil grin or Absolem, the giant caterpillar from “Alice in Wonderland.” The garden variety Halloween bogeyman was pedestrian. She would turn nine next month, yet did not recall ever feeling like a child.
Sara did know fear though. She had her own private monster. He did not live in her closet. He sat across from her at the dinner table. His eyes were, at the same time, red and green. Muscles bulged from a grimy, tattered shirt. He had scruffy facial hair, a bald dome, and creepy appendages. The creature would scowl and shoot threatening leers her way. Or just smirk. Sara’s eyes remained downcast throughout her evening meals. He was difficult to look at. He called himself Rob. It seemed like a friendly enough name. But he was a fright. His head seemed to balloon to three times its size when his mouth gaped to shove more in. He bolted food. He glared. And Sara would look back to her plate. Even when her mother tried to get her attention, she would interact only in snippets.
Homework time was a favorite for Sara. Her monster never appeared while she filled in her class worksheets. She could also escape him by visiting neighbors. And he didn’t follow her to school. He only hovered in her home. As she watched television, she would feel him over her shoulder. When she looked back he was sometimes there, glowering. Sometimes he was not.
Her monster did not live under the bed. But he slithered right into her bed again tonight – as much as 200 pounds can slither. His breath was hot on her face. His grunt, savage. And there was the usual acrid stench about him. He loved her. And he would strangle her if she told anyone about him. Sara closed her eyes very, very tight – as though he would disappear if she squeezed them tightly enough. Her heart raced. The miscreant took her hands and placed them on a part of him inside his pajama bottoms. A hot sweaty part that put her in mind of that horrible Absolem. ”You remember how,” he said. His Absolem was smooth and angry. And then sticky. “Good girl.” She coiled herself like a snail until he left. Then made her way to the bathroom. Again. She cried until she slept. Again. Sara’s mom did not believe in her monster. She called him Rob. Sara called him stepfather.