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"The Monster"

Published:
January 22, 2024
January 22, 2024
Read "The Monster", a poem about trusting God.

Are they gone?

Nice!

I guess we get to play another round!

Hi! I’m Clare. I’m ten and three quarters but I turn eleven in June!

But right now I’m in a cul de sac in Long Island with my cousins, we’re playing a game called
“monster”. It’s kind of like hide n’ go seek but different

part ‘cause we’re outside,
part ‘cause it’s cold,
part ‘cause the rules keep changing every time.

My uncles are trying to scare us, putting on scary monster voices and taking down heavy steps
to make us think that the monster is real but

I know that it’s not.

——————————————————————

I’m thirteen and we’re playing a game called eat your lunch in the bathroom.

It’s sad but in a fun way, because I know that this isn’t my real life.

This is just the thing that happens before my life begins.

Because right now I’m in the big stall at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School,

trying not to breathe too loud,

but someday I’m gonna be somebody who makes noise on purpose!

Someday, I am going to be somebody who people want to listen to!

Someday, I am going to be somebody -

It’s ok, they’re gone.

Just turns out that high school is just another game of “monster”.

Part ‘cause I’ve never been to public school before, ok? Part ‘cause everyone else seems so
much older than me,
part ‘cause the rules keep changing every time.

——————————————————————

SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH -
Stop!
STOP!

You have to whisper!
I AM WHISPERING!

you!
have!
to!
whisper!

(I was whispering.)

I’m nineteen, at a house party in Jefferson County, Ohio.

And the cops are here!

But it’s ok because if you just get in the bathtub and we close the curtain…

If you just stay in here, if you close your eyes!

If you can’t see them
then they can’t see you!

See it’s like this game my cousins and I used to play when we were kids. It’s called “monster” - i
t’s like hide ‘n go seek but worse.

Part ‘cause I the tub is kinda wet,
part ‘cause I’ve never been drunk before and I don’t know how I feel about it,
part ‘cause the rules keep changing every time.

——————————————————————————————

It’s the first week of my senior year of college and the Student Life coordinator calls my best
friend to make sure I’m not alone when I get the news.

Moments later, my phone rings but my dad doesn’t say anything.

Can’t say anything.

It’s my mom who breaks the news.

After twenty-two years, the monster has finally come, for real this time.

Part ‘cause there’s one less kid to play with now,
part ‘cause I can’t breathe,
part ‘cause the rules keep changing every time.

I’m twenty-two years old and I’m finding out that the monster wasn’t in the cul-de-sac or the
bathroom stall or the college party

the monster was that feeling
like hide ‘n seek but worse:

that the worst day of your life could be any day.

—————————————————————————

I’m 26.

I graduated, moved to Boston, made new friends.

And for the most part, these are good days.

Like, really, good days.

But there are still hard parts.

Slowly but surely, as the years go by, the monster has found each of us cul-de-sac kids,
dragging us out by the toes we forgot to tuck in.

One went to jail, one to rehab, one to some place I can’t pronounce.

It’s like hide ‘n go seek but worse.

Part ‘cause I love my family,
part ‘cause I’ve gotta be next, right?
part ‘cause the rules keep changing every time.

——————————————————————

Here I am now, almost thirty

in a backyard somewhere down south, pushing my nieces on the swings as they ask me what
games their mom and I played when we were their age.

And for a moment, I think about telling them about monster.

But then I consider what a lifetime of hide n’ seek and searching for BASE can do to a little soul
and I decide not to.

Instead I ask them to just come sit in the light with me and at first they protest and fidget but
then they settle in.

And for a moment,

It isn’t scary.
It isn’t fun.

It’s just quiet.

And it is good.

Creators:
Clare McCallan
Published:
January 22, 2024
January 22, 2024
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