Sometimes they're under the bed, sometimes they're in the wardrobe
I gazed at the wardrobe through the darkness. A monster? In there? It hardly seemed likely. But that’s what she said. “If you don’t go to sleep the monster in the wardrobe will come and get you.” Those were her exact words. There’d been no mention of this monster before, no indication that my room, full of my toys and my stuff, had a monster in it. But Mammy never lied. If she said there was a monster in there, then by God that’s what was in there.
What kind of a monster was it though? And how long had it been in there? I’d been making an awful racket tonight, a real ruckus, so why hadn’t it “got me” already? It’d started with a few songs, stuff I’d learned at playschool, cheerful little numbers that made me think of Mrs O’Brien, my teacher. But then, bored, I’d taken things to the next level. Shouting. I liked shouting, and that’s what I’d been doing, at the top of my lungs, for no apparent reason.
When I heard Mammy coming I hid beneath the blankets and pretended it wasn’t me. She seemed to fall for it; she could be an awful fool at times. Coast clear I took to jumping on the bed, my absolute favourite game. This was what led to the monster revelation, delivered with some swear words as she slammed the door in anger. A monster. In the wardrobe. I decided I’d deal with this situation in the morning. If the monster was awake then the last thing it would want was me poking around, disturbing it and being a general nuisance.
I turned away from the wardrobe and squeezed my eyes shut as tight as they would go. But it was no use. All I could think of was the monster. I imagined it creeping up behind me, all teeth and slobber, its stomach growling at the sight of a plump four-year old boy. Its big hairy hand reaching out for my neck, pulling me towards it. And me not even resisting, knowing it was pointless, that I could never beat a monster. Just lying there, whimpering softly, as it opened its mouth - one of its five mouths, the biggest one – and nibbled at my ears with its rotting teeth.
No. I had to stay positive. This kind of talk was madness. Mammy wouldn’t leave me in here all alone with a hairy-handed, five-mouthed monster; she just wasn’t that kind of Mammy. My monster was probably only a small one, even smaller than me, and not dangerous at all. It probably had lovely brown eyes and made funny little grunting noises whenever you tickled its belly. Maurice the Monster. A nice monster. A friendly monster. I liked him already, couldn’t wait to meet him in the morning.
Then I heard it, a scratching noise coming from inside the wardrobe. I paused, afraid to breathe, afraid to move. Surely not? But there it was again. Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. The sound monsters make when they’re coming to get you. This was no small, friendly monster. This wasn’t Maurice. This was the hairy-handed, five-mouthed monster, the hungry one who wanted to eat me. I leapt from the bed, across the room and out the door, continuing straight into my Mammy’s room, diving into her bed and underneath the covers in one motion. The entire journey took less than three seconds.
“What are you doing in here?” she asked groggily.
“The monster came,” I replied.
“Did he now?”
“Well, you better sleep in here, so.”
“Thanks, Mammy,” I said.
Within seconds she was asleep again, the poor woman was beat to the ropes. Safe again, I relaxed. I’d be asleep soon too. But first I wanted to savour the moment. I loved sleeping in my Mammy’s room; with its big double bed, lovely yellow curtains and the full-length mirror where I sometimes practised my karate moves when no-one was around. And the chair in the corner that I sat on every Saturday morning while we discussed our plans for the day, the old clock that went tick-tock-tock-tick-tock; I think it was broken, and the massive wardrobe where she kept all her shoes and coats. Yes, I loved it in here, I always had brilliant sleeps in here. Wait. The wardrobe. I looked at it again. It was massive, big enough for at least nine monsters. Mammy continued to snore, completely oblivious to the threat of monsters. I snuggled in beside her, covering my head with the blankets. There’d be no sleep for me tonight.