“The monsters win when you look away,” he said soothingly to her as she lay softly crying on her bed, her eyes tightly closed and her face buried in her pillow. Outside, rain steadily fell as dark grey skies stretched forever, “You cannot look away. You must be strong and stare them down,” he kept repeating as she kept crying.
He was always there but he only appeared when she needed him. He only appeared after her stepfather had left her room. She wished her mother would never go away on those business trips ever again.
Eventually, her crying subsided into mere sobbing. Her tears ran out and she lifted her face from her wet pillow.
He was still there, smiling warmly. She sometimes called him ‘Mr Razzy‘ but mostly it was ‘Razzybones‘. He was tall and thin with a great top hat and fierce, blue eyes that spoke of clear skies and beaches. Sometimes he would sing for her or fly around the room dancing across the ceiling. He was always dressed in the bright colours of a circus and he extended his hand to her.
“Come, little one,” he said, “Let’s get out of this room. Let’s go play outside and we can practice staring the monsters down, OK?”
She reached up and grabbed his delicate hand, nodding gently. She felt better already and the skies were now blue outside. The rain was gone and she would learn how to not look away.
The pastor was speaking but she was not listening. She held her mother’s frail hand tightly and felt her squeezing back as they lowered the casket into the ground.
“George was a loving husband and caring stepfather to Anna,” the Pastor was saying but all she could think about was the turmoil inside of her. She ached for her mother’s loss and squeezed her hand instinctually as tears came to both of their eyes, but she also kept staring at the monster’s casket as it slipped slowly into that dark hole forever.
Lower and lower, and further and further away.
“Don’t look away,” Razzybones was whispering in her ear. She could feel his fierce blue eyes sparkling as they both finally stared the old monster down, “Don’t ever look away.”
“What is wrong, my dear,” Anna asked, turning the light on and sitting down on her daughter’s bed, “What can mommy help with?”
Her daughter almost leaped from under the covers into her arms, and she hugged her tightly. She could hear the TV from the lounge where her husband was channel hopping the evening news and outside it was raining gently. This used to bother her but now it made her all warm inside. She squeezed her daughter tightly and repeated.
“What is wrong, little one? What can mommy help you with?”
“Mommy, it’s the monsters again. I can hear them outside when you turn the lights off. They aren’t there now,” her daughter pleaded with her, “But they are there when you turn the lights off…”
She smiled. She knew all about monsters.
“Come,” she began, picking her daughter up, “Let’s tuck you in and I will tell you a secret.”
She lay her daughter in the bed and pulled the bright, circus-coloured duvet up over her, tucking in the sides and then gently leaned down and kissed her little forehead.
“The monsters win when you look away,” she began, smiling warmly, “Next time, baby girl, you look straight at them and you do not look away. Do you think you can do that, my dear? Do you think you can stare the monsters down for Mommy?”
Her daughter nodded and flung her arms out for another hug. Anna could not help but smile, and she was sure that she could feel Razzybones smiling somewhere too with his fierce, blue eyes sparkling.