A Different Kind Of Monster

The first type of monster Charlotte had encountered was one that only existed in her imagination.

She had never been afraid of the dark. What could lurk within it, though, was considerably more scary.

Her eyes stayed fixed on her closet. She had earlier made the mistake of leaving the door half open. Shadows spilled from it, reaching out with long, twisted hands and clawing at the surroundings walls. They seemed to beckon to her, as if daring her to get closer.

The girl, barely five years old, contemplated making a break for it. While she was no monster-genius, she was pretty sure that she would be far too slow in comparison to whatever might chase after her.

She was trapped.

The next kind of monster Charlotte encountered was one she could physically see.

She held a green, lizard-like figurine. Its eyes were golden, and its teeth were bared in a grimace. In front of her, the TV blared, painting colours across her face in the darkness.

She looked up, watching as a heroine sailed onto the screen. She vanquished the monster—identical to the one she held—in a sharp flash of light. Charlotte brought up her other hand, the same superhero staring back at her.

She grinned, and re-enacted the fight, laughing with giddy joy when the heroine overcame the monster. Colours from the show’s ending credits flashed across its angry face as it clattered to the ground.

Charlotte picked up the figurines and set them neatly back on the table next to the TV. They were her most prized possessions, even though her father had said that eight was too old for dolls. They weren’t dolls, not really, so her mother had let her have them.

Charlotte was eleven years old when she realised that monsters could take even the most deceiving of forms.

She had been helping her mother in the kitchen when her father came home from work one evening, his breath reeking of alcohol. Her mother looked at him, narrowing her eyes.

“Where have you been?” She said.

He didn’t look at her, muttered something about wanting a divorce—Charlotte didn’t know what that meant—and left the room. Her mother crumpled to the floor, silent tears streaking down her face. Charlotte hadn’t seen her mother cry before, and experiencing it was like a punch to the gut.

She knew of only one thing that could make an otherwise stoic person break down. Her mind flashed back to the TV and the green lizard-man.


A moment later, her father re-emerged, said nothing, and simply left back the way he had come. Charlotte stared at the closed door as her mother’s sobs grew louder.

Her father didn’t have green skin like the lizard. He didn’t have sharp teeth. He even smiled sometimes.

But, at that moment, they really didn’t seem all that different.


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