The Monster

The Monster

                I felt the monster the moment the car turned onto my old street.  I could not actually see the house, but I knew the monster was there.  My heart beat faster, my palms began to sweat, my breath came out in rapid gasps.  I shifted in my seat, craning my neck to look in the backseat, nearly convinced that my monster would be physically there, behind me, chasing me.  It was enough to make me want to vomit.

“We don’t have to do this.”  My babysitter and chauffer, my mother had been against this little trip from the moment I suggested it.  She’d been against a lot of decisions in my life, yet that had never stopped me.  Of course, if I had listened, the monster would not be there, following me, taunting me, keeping me from leading a healthy, normal, productive life.

But this time, ignoring her misgivings was the right thing to do.  It was the only way to ever get the monster off my back and out of my life.  It was the only way to get my life back, to be free.

And I needed freedom.  Needed it more than my lungs needed the air they were desperately grasping for.

“Keep driving,” I told Mom, forcing myself to face forward.  I closed my eyes, counted to ten, breathed in as deeply as I could, imagined being in my happy place—used every calming technique I’d learned in years of therapy to chase away the monster and every panicked feeling his presence evoked.  Nothing worked.  I could run—again.  But I was tired of running.  “I have to face this,” I said, as much to assure Mom as to reassure myself.

She still wasn’t sure, but she drove.  The car inched closer to the house; soon I could see the rooftop, then the upstairs windows, the porch, and finally the front door.  It stood there, innocently, as if the pain and anguish that had occurred in its walls had meant nothing.

DSCF5249The closer we came to the house, the less innocence I saw.  Sadness.  The years, I noticed with a small sense of glee, had not been kind to the building.  The siding was cracked and pulling away in places.  Paint had chipped off the wooden support beams of the front porch, some of which were cracked, broken, barely able to stand up to the weight of that porch roof, which itself was falling down.  If the house could feel, I think it would be feeling sadness.  Because it knew the end was coming?  Or because of the horrors that had occurred inside, horrors the building had been unable to stop?

Mom pulled the car to a stop across the street.  A workman wearing a yellow hardhat and orange safety vest approached us.  “Sorry, Ma’am,” he said gruffly.  “You can’t park here.  Demolition will start soon.”

“How soon?” I asked.

“Soon,” he repeated.  “The car is not safe here.”

I opened the door and got out, ignoring the look of frustration on his face.  The monster followed me out of the car, once again breathing down my neck.  The door closed behind me and Mom drove away, to a spot we had agreed on before making the trip.  She’d walk the two blocks back, to stand with me and watch the destruction of the first house I’d ever purchased, the building that should have been a happy home for me, my husband, and our children.  She wouldn’t be gone for long.  I turned to the worker, whose face still carried a great deal of irritation.  “May I go inside?” I asked him.

“Inside?”  The sound of his voice conveyed his true feelings; he wanted to ask if I was insane.  The answer, quite possibly, was yes.  Perhaps I was insane.  This house, that monster at my back, both had led to my questionable state of mind.

“It’s my house,” I said.  “Or it was until I sold it to the city.  All I want is one last chance to walk inside.  Is that possible?”

I didn’t wait for an answer, just walked across the street, marched up the three steps, and pushed open the front door.  It didn’t take long for someone to follow me, shouting at me that I needed to stop, needed to walk back outside.  I ignored the voice.  The monster was still behind me, but I knew I could leave him behind in this building.  All I had to do was see it, I had to see that room.  His life had ended here.  If I was going to finally put the monster to rest, I needed to see the place where he had died.  I just needed my eyes to rest on it one last time.

It was old, falling down from years of neglect.  Just like my heart.  The house had to be torn down.  And with it, his recliner, the chair that he had seen as his throne, the chair he’d not been able to tear himself out of to get help in the last moments of his sad, pathetic little life.  I needed to see it, and I wasn’t disappointed.  It was still there, in its place of honor in what had been the living room, positioned so that the view of the television, had it been there, would have been perfect.

As I looked at it, I began to breathe harder again, could feel my heart beat faster, could feel the monster closing in on me.  DSCF5248Hadn’t felt that level of hatred and anger in years, not since I’d escaped the house, escaped his rule.  But the fear, the fear I had always associated with this chair, with the man that lived and died in it was gone.  I was no longer scared of him.  But I was angry.

I hated him.  He was dead, and yet I hated him.  With every fiber of my being, I hated him.

I allowed myself to be escorted out of the house, back across the street to where my mother was standing.  I was admonished to stay put.

A man climbed up into a large crane, started the engine.  As the crane’s claw reached toward the roof of the house, I imagined I was in control.  It was my hand tearing through the roof, pulling apart boards and insulation, reducing the dwelling to broken bits of debris.  As the engine roared, I roared as well.  I yelled, I screamed.  I allowed another piece of my anger, of the monster that had followed me from this house to escape my body.  The claw tore through the upper floor, and I saw myself tearing him apart, piece by piece.  The way had done to me.  I watched the lower floor come apart, could see his precious recliner pulverized.

When it was over, when the roar of the engine died, I could only stare at the empty lot.  Other equipment was moved in to clear out the remains of the house, and yet I stared.  It was gone.  The house was gone.  The monster was gone.  I was alone.  I was free.

“Are you alright?” my mother asked.

I turned to her.  Smiled.  “I am,” I said.  “It’s over. I am free.”


Andrew rolled his eyes.  “Leftovers,” he said with an air of disgust that only a preteen can muster, “are disgusting.”

His younger brother breathed an exaggerated sigh of agreement.  “Can’t we just order pizza?”

I squeezed my eyes shut, took a deep breath, and counted to ten.  All calming tricks I’d learned in my years of therapy.  None of which seemed to be working that night.  As much as I wanted my boys to get along and not fight with one another (after all, it had been less than ten minutes since I told them to stop fighting or I was going to make them sit side-by-side on the sofa, holding hands until they could be kind to each other,) I did not need for their one moment of solidarity in the week to come at my expense.  It had already bee a stressful day, dealing with a client who adhered to a very rigid deadline where work was concerned but was not nearly so rigid about the deadlines on payment.  On top of that, the boys’ father had called me that afternoon to apologize that his child support would be late.


He had the money to take his new wife and their daughter on a week long trip to Disneyland, but he couldn’t bother to send basic support for his two sons.

It wasn’t a new thing, and wasn’t a complete surprise.  Still wasn’t something I was happy about.  I’d done nearly $600 worth of work for a client that I wasn’t being paid for and how the $200 of child support that should have bought enough groceries to get us through the week until my paycheck from my steady teaching job came in wasn’t coming.  And the boys were moaning and complaining about having to eat leftovers.

Oh how I wanted to send them to their father that night!  Then he’d have little choice but to pay something for them. 

The thought of my ex’s face if I were to drop the boys on his doorstep and drive away did more to calm me than anything else.  I was finally able to smile.  I opened my eyes, smiled at the boys, and said, “We can have pizza, no problem.”  I reached into the open fridge and pulled out an aluminum foil covered plate.  “We made homemade pizza two nights ago, and there is plenty left for tonight’s dinner.”

My oldest son repeated the rolled eyes.  But he did step aside so I could pop the plate into the microwave.

“Well,” my youngest said, “it’s better than what they made us eat for lunch at school today.”

flash fiction, memories, monologging, Leave a comment


Groupons?  What in the world are groupons?

I know it can’t be what first comes to mind…a group of tampons.  I mean, really….  Who would care about those?

From what I understand, they are supposed to be group coupons.  Still, the name is so dumb.  It’s really stupid.

Sorry, dear readers, but this isn’t really going to be a short story.  It’s more of a rant about odd words and odd slogans and things that I find just plain, well, ODD.

I mean, really.  The word “groupon” doesn’t sound at all appealing.  Why would I want one?

And then there is the feminine hygiene product with the “Have a happy period” slogan.  Really?  What man came up with that?  I have to believe that was a man.  “Oh, I am having such a happy period,” said no woman…EVER.  (Perhaps they got the idea that this slogan wasn’t particularly popular, as I don’t recall seeing it recently.)

And have you seen the toilet tissue commercials with the little bears?  “Everyone has to go, why not enjoy the go?”  Sorry, but when I go, the tissue doesn’t have much to do with it.  That’s more for cleaning up.  For me to “enjoy the go” would require the kids actually understanding that a closed bathroom door means Mommy needs a bit of privacy.

Oh, and while I am on the subject, your flushable moist wipes might help with the cleaning, but that does not mean I want to go to Facebook and talk about my bum.

There is a pizza place around here that is geared toward kids.  They had a commercial that talked about making things “funner.”  Seriously?  Since when is that a word?  Kids sound unintelligent enough with all the text shorthand that is making its way into daily conversation.  Is it really necessary for companies to use incorrect grammar in TV ads?  Let’s work to make our nation smarter, people!

Oh, text shorthand…. I should not have even mentioned that!!!  That is my biggest pet peeve lately.  The only time I use anything other than “LOL” is when I am texting and in a BIG hurry.  Or if I am trying to be funny or sarcastic.  I never use it with my kids, and I don’t put up with them using it.  Seriously, kids need to learn how to spell.  They need to learn how to communicate in a mature fashion.  Yes, they need to be kids, but they also need to know when to show maturity (and sometimes they need to know when to show more maturity than their parents show, but that’s another story.)  When adults try to “communicate” with teens and tweens using text shorthand, it doesn’t help things.  You want America to be taken more seriously in the global marketplace?  Then you need to help turn out more serious Americans.

Just my two cents….

Sorry if you don’t like it.  I can’t give change.

flash fiction, monologging, random thoughts, Leave a comment

Food Poisoning

She didn’t want to poison him, not really.  Not enough to kill him anyway.  But if she could make him just a little bit sick….

She heard about food poisoning on the news.  It happened quite often, actually, and almost always was seen as an accidental thing.  Something wasn’t cooked long enough or perhaps it had been left at the wrong temperature for too long.  Produce was contaminated.  It would be easy enough for him to get sick from something that he ate.  And no one would point the blame at her.

After all, she was the loving wife.  The one who had borne his children, who gave up her career to stay at home and raise them, who washed their laundry and picked up their toys and made sure their homework was done each evening.  She was the one who made sure his dinner was hot and on the table when he came home from work each evening, who baked fresh cookies or cakes or pies at least once a week to satisfy his sweet tooth, who washed the bedding in the scented soap he liked and made his bed each morning.  She did all that and more, and while she couldn’t say that she always did it cheerfully, she did do it without complaint.

And without recognition.

Not that she needed the recognition.  Not constantly, anyway.  An occasional, “Thank you,” or, “I appreciate all that you do for me and the kids,” would be nice.  It wasn’t necessary, though.  After all, it was her job as a wife and a mother to do those things, to look after the house and the children, to make his life easier.

What she would like, what would make her life easier, would be to have him come home from work and greet her with something other than criticism.  Her eyes worked well—she could see that the laundry was not all folded, that there were homework papers on the table, and that a few stray action figures were resting in the corner of the living room. It made her wonder if that was how his bosses treated him, if they ignored all of the goods things he did on a daily basis and only pointed out the negatives.

Not that she could do anything about his work situation.  But she might be able to do something about him.  If she could only figure out how to inflict food poisoning on him without getting herself or the children sick.

That wouldn’t arouse any suspicion at all, would it?

Coffee & Cigarettes

“Your total is $12.92.”

Ginny tried to put some sort of feeling into the words, tried to make them sound as friendly as she hoped the smile on her face looked.  Truth was, she just wasn’t feeling it today.  She handed over the pack of Marlboros, watched her customer run his credit card through the machine, and looked with an odd longing as his sipped the steaming black liquid that he purchased every morning.  It looked like coffee and smelled like coffee, and since it was made from those same aromatic beans, Ginny supposed that it technically was coffee, though she knew it couldn’t hold a candle to the stuff she used to drink three or four cups of each day from the upscale shop in the lobby of the building where she used to work.

Oh what she wouldn’t give for one cup of the good stuff today.

It had been too long since she tasted it, but she still dreamed of the stuff.  She still dreamed of a lot of the things she once took for granted, the luxuries that had disappeared when the hospital downsized and her job as patient liaison had disappeared.  “We need to focus on patients,” she’d been told.  “Getting them in the doors, treated quickly, back out as fast as possible.”  What the public thought of the hospital didn’t matter anymore.  Neither did long-term relationships with the patients.  The fact that there were more complications from this “drive-thru” care didn’t really matter, either.  In fact, that was seen more as a plus.  Nothing could be conclusively blamed on the hospital.  It just looked like people were getting more sick, needing more hospital services, and bringing in more money to the hospital.

And leaving Ginny here, at the gas station, selling gas, coffee and cigarettes to the doctors, nurses, and hospital board members she used to work with each day.

She wondered if their attitudes would change when they were the ones neglected after a serious illness.  That thought almost made the smile on Ginny’s face real.


Skipping Class

I had two best friends during my school years, one in middle school and one in high school.  These two girls were different in so many ways.  Thinking back, I can name only three things that they had in common: they attended the same school, they liked New Kids on the Block, and they both knew me (that last thing, of course, is the most amazing thing about them!)  One trait they definitely did NOT share had to do with school—one of them took her studies seriously while the other would skip class every chance she got.

And she was good at trying to convince me to skip with her.  Sad to say, she succeeded at times.  We skipped school one day and walked from the junior high all the way across town to her house.  I still don’t know why we did it.  Something about her feeling bad about a breakup with an idiot who wasn’t good enough for her anyway.  It felt good to be out of class, until the day came to an end and I realized I had to explain to my parents why I wasn’t on the bus or in my afternoon classes.  Funny how when I think I of that “best friend” I remember more trouble than anything.

But when I think of my high school best friend, I remember good times.  I remember school dances and sleepovers and private jokes and laughter.  It’s not wonder that she is the one that I still call on when I need a shoulder to cry on or just want to share the good things in my life.

Maybe skipping class isn’t such a great thing after all.

Couch Surfing

Ah, couch surfing….  One of the few sports my family enjoys. 

Yeah, I know.  We need more hobbies.  We especially need more athletic hobbies. 

Well, except for my middle son.  Give him a ball and a basic idea of the rules of the game, and he will put his whole heart into it. 

My youngest, he might try for a bit.  After a while, he will inevitably begin to yell at the ball, much like a dinosaur would roar.  Maybe that is part of being 6 years old. 

Hubby, he’s been known to play softball and golf.  Hasn’t done either regularly in quite a while, though. 

My oldest boy, he does enjoy golf.  But without Daddy to take him out on the links, he doesn’t get out much. 

And me?  Well, even when my back and legs worked right “athletic” was not a word anyone would use to describe me.  Sure, I can be found, once every couple of years, butt glued to the couch cushion and eyes glued to the TV screen when the Olympics roll around.  But that is pretty much the extent of my sports enjoyment. 

So that leaves us with couch surfing, bouncing from one seat on the couch to another until we are comfortable.  Or just to annoy the other members of the family.  Who knows the reason?  But it’s what we do.  And it’s about the only sport we engage in together.

Other than channel surfing, which isn’t so much a sport as a prelude to war….

free writing, monologging, , stream of consciousness Leave a comment


I am enjoying some time off between terms.  *SIGH*  Oh, it’s been nice!  Don’t get me wrong—I have no regrets about being back in school.  I know this is the right thing for me to do, it’s the right thing for me and for my family.  When I started in January, though, I did not anticipate that I would be in school non-stop for 8 months.  Even my kids get mini-vacations.  My terms are 8 weeks each, and I’ve not had a break since I started in the beginning of January.  It’s helped me get in a lot of the classes that I need so that I will be able to graduate next June, so it’s a good thing.  Still, this 2-week break between summer term and fall term is much needed.

Anyway, I’ve used the time to search for some writing contests and writing prompts.  Yesterday, I came across one that looked very interesting.  It is called Monologging.  It bills itself as a “Local-Global Collaborative Magazine.”  For the summer, they are running a contest.  Each day, they post a brief writing prompt and ask readers to write “a brief 250 word monologue” based off that prompt.  (If you want to know more about the contest, you can check it out here.)  I don’t think that I will be entering the contest myself.  Partly because what I have written so far I don’t think is worthy of entering into a contest.  Honestly, it’s not that good.  Mostly, though, I don’t want to pay the entry fee for each one.  Maybe if I write something that I really feel good about, I will enter it into the contest.  But for now, I am just writing.

Yep, I am writing!  I am using the prompts (and there are quite a few of them there, since they started posting the prompts on July 18 and have posted one every weekday since, and I didn’t find the site until August 22) to try to jumpstart my own creativity.  The problem that I am having is keeping it to 250 words.  I talk too much for that!!  It’s hard to keep all of my ideas and thoughts to just 250 words.  But, I am trying.  Look for my first monologue to appear here tomorrow morning.

You May Have Already Won

Life takes some funny twists and turns. At least mine did. In high school, I was completely focused on my future. I’d earn a track scholarship to the University of Michigan. While, there I planned to study hard. There were so many things I wanted to do- teach, be a judge, write bestselling novels. I didn’t know which one would be my career, but I knew I could do any of the three. My plan was to put off marriage, and I’d never had children, so I could focus on my career. At least I wasn’t being like some high school athletes, majoring in underwater basketball weaving while counting on my athletic ability to get me through the rest of my life.

Though I graduated with a liberal Arts degree, ten years after college I wasn’t really in any of those fields. No, instead I had done what I never thought I would. I got married and had three children. As if that wasn’t enough, my husband and I had adopted two others.

Oh, I love my husband and kids. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without any of them. Still, I wonder how different things would be if I had followed my high school dreams.

In the mail today was a letter, addressed to me. It didn’t say “Mommy.” It didn’t say “Mrs. Reed.” It had my name Elizabeth Anna Reed, printed in neat black letters. Typed on the envelope, in bright red letters, were the words, “You May Have Already Won.”

My heart skipped a beat. Really? I could have won? Could have won what? The possibilities were endless.

A million dollars would be nice. I could pay off my student loans (still paying for a degree I didn’t use annoyed both me and my husband). We could finally make updates to the house we had been dreaming about. Each of the kids could have a room alone, eliminating a lot of the daily fighting. My husband could have that brand new car he had always wanted. Oh, I could spend a relaxing day at the spa.

Maybe I had won a vacation. A week spent in Cancun or cruising the French Riviera. All that sun and the quiet. We could pack up the kids, send them to my parents of in-laws. Or we could divide them among our friends, if no one wanted to take all five at once. I’d come home with a tan and a smile. Best of all, my husband would stop nagging me about the amount of sex he was getting. Without fear of the kids interrupting a passionate moment, I’m sure we would be able to enjoy each other.

Of course, I would have won something much smaller. A new computer, perhaps, or a big screen TV. Maybe it would be new windows for the house of new carpeting.

A scream rang out; at the same time a foam dart sailed through the air and lodged in my hair. I looked around. The living room floor was littered with toys-building blocks, cars, Barbie’s. The dining room table was covered in crayons and papers, with left over Spaghetti-Os and spilled Kool-Aid mixed in. the kids themselves had tomato sauce in their hair and dirt smudged across their faces. It was a normal daily scene, something I’d like to call “summertime chaos”.

Glancing at the red lettered envelope, I sighed. No point in opening it. I hadn’t entered any contest, so the prize would be no good. With my luck, I’d won another child.

No, I’d be better off just leaving the envelope in the trash can.

What Love Is

I am not much of a poet, but I did write this one in college.  I suppose it’s not too bad.



Blue sky
Fluffy clouds
Sun smiles on the world
Humming, dancing, singing
And you are by my side
Is this what love is?


Grey sky
Gentle rain
Wind sighs over the world
Taping, patting, clicking
And you are walking with me
Is this what love is?


Black sky
Harsh wind
Thunder screams at the world
Pounding, flashing, booming
And you still holding my hand
This is what love is.