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A little boy finds and befriends a monster in his closet. Things happen!
“Mom, there’s a monster in my room,” Harry shouted down the stairs.
Then tell it to go away so you can clean your room, Mom called back up. I want that floor spotless.
He told it to “git”, like he had heard Dad yell at the local cat, but it didn’t leave. He even said please. Please git. It didn’t.
It was a tiny monster, hardly bigger than a shoe, something between a bird and a puppy. It would hop and romp around the room, following his movements while making a particular whistle-squeak noise. Harry decided he liked the little monster after all. It was even his favorite color, blue. Fearing his parents would take it away or hurt it if they found it, he put the monster in his closet. Every day, after school, he would open the closet and let the little monster out so they could play together.
“Your name is Plume now,” he told it one day. “I learned it in school today. It’s a fancy word for feather.”
Plume, the little bird monster, squeaked approval.
Plume ate dust bunnies and liked to sit on Harry’s remote-controlled car as it zipped around. Plume would rest on Harry’s spelling book at the very moment that he didn’t want to work on spelling anymore. Plume would crawl all over his back and shoulders and tickle him with that fluffy tail and those tiny wings.
Harry tried telling the other boys at school about Plume, but they laughed when he told them how big he was. "The monster in my room is so big he can only fit his nose in my closet," Danny said, "and he breathes on me at night. It’s really creepy, but I’m not scared. Your monster is a ninny."
After Danny said that, Plume didn’t like to move around very much. There would be feathers strewn around the closet floor, but Plume would always be curled up in the corner when Harry opened the door. He would have to pick Plume up in order for them to play together.
One day, Dad took Mom out to have a fancy dinner, so there was a babysitter at the house. Harry had heard many stories about babysitters and their terrifying powers from his classmates.
The babysitter had an easy smile and was taller than Dad. She had very dark, very long hair, tied at the end with a ribbon. This fascinated Harry, because he thought that you were supposed to tie your hair near your head. It seemed exotic. The thing she was wearing was fascinating as well - it was like a dress but it wasn’t frilly or the same color as her shirt. Weren’t dresses were supposed to match the shirt?
Son, this is Angeline, and you’ll do as she says, Dad said. We’ll be back before bedtime.
Mom and Dad left, leaving Harry with the babysitter. She knelt by him and smiled wide. “Just call me Angie, it’s short and sweet.”
“My friend Joseph says babysitters can breathe fire,” Harry said. “Can you breathe fire?”
“Babysitters aren’t monsters, Harry. We’re people just like you.”
The mention of monsters made him grin. “I have a monster in my closet!”
“Oh, dear, that won’t do,” Angie’s frown was more like a pout. “Did you tell it to go away already?”
“No, I mean yeah I did, but he didn’t go away. He’s a nice monster though, he plays with me and sometimes he sleeps next to me. He likes to eat baloney and he’s blue and soft.”
“Your monster does seem like a nice one,” Angie smiled again. “Can I meet it?”
“No,” Harry turned away, crossing his arms. He didn’t want to put Plume in any danger. “You’ll take him away. Or you’d tell Mom.”
“I won’t do that.”
“Promise! Or I’ll have him eat you!”
“Alright,” Angie held out her pinky with great seriousness. “Pinky swear. Cross my heart, too.”
Harry completed the swear with his own pinky. “Okay! My room’s upstairs!”
The closet door was closed. That was odd, he had left it open this morning and hadn’t been inside all day.
“Plume’s in there,” Harry pointed.
“How big is your monster, again?” Angie said as she turned on the light.
“Like a basketball. Or a shoe,” Harry said, opening the door.
There was something blue in the closet, but it wasn’t Plume. It was a little girl, younger than he was. She had blue hair that looked fluffy and was wearing a blue sweater five sizes too big. There were some holes in the back of the sweater that allowed two little flapping things to poke out. Many feathers were strewn around her feet.
“Hey!” Harry pouted at her. “You’re not Plume! What did you do to Plume?”
The little girl stared at him in complete shock. She started to shake her head slowly.
“You’re not supposed to be here!” Harry poked her chest with a finger.
“Wait, Harry, stop,” Angie stepped between them, pushing him away. “Your monster’s name was Plume?”
The little girl looked up at the sound of the name.
“Harry, I think this is Plume. Didn’t you say Plume was blue?”
“No way!” Harry stomped his foot. “Plume is a bird and a puppy and a boy monster!”
“How do you know that Plume is a boy?”
“Cause he likes to play with my truck. And monsters aren’t girls. ‘Specially when they’re blue! I wouldn’t be friends with a girl!”
“There have to be girl monsters if there are boy monsters,” Angie turned to the little girl, who was clutching her knees. “Plume, was it? Why don’t you come out?”
The girl shook her head hard.
“That isn’t Plume!” Harry said again.
The girl put her head down on her knees. Harry had seen someone do that before. It was when Sarah from the class down the hall had been picked on by the fifth graders. He remembered that she cried a lot when she was curled up like that.
“Don’t pick on her, Harry. You’re hurting her feelings.”
Was he picking on the little girl like the fifth graders picked on Sarah? He didn’t want to be like those mean ol’ fifth graders. Besides, Dad had said something about making a girl sad.
Son, Dad had said, if you make a lady cry, I’ll box your ears. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little lady or a big one. You’re a man, and a man doesn’t make ladies cry.
Harry screwed up his mouth into a straight face. “I’m sorry.”
The little girl looked up. Her eyes were big and watery.
“I’m sorry for saying that monsters can’t be girls. I’m sorry for telling you to get out. And I’m…I’m sorry for saying you weren’t Plume. Or my friend. You’re my friend, Plume.”
The girl raised her head up enough for him to see she was smiling. She made a familiar whistle-squeak noise.
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