All Kinds of Monsters

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Kim is lost in a forest filled with monsters, her only guide to safety a timid monster named Oaf. Fearful of her future and wounded by her past, Kim's biggest problem might not be the dangers lurking in the dark--it might just be the pain that left her here.

(I'm posting this as a sample. If you'd like to read this as a fully flushed-out story, please give me feedback!)

She could hear the distant roars and yowls of the other monsters. Kim shivered. This place felt like a strange parody to her "normal" life: dark, lonely, filled with freakish people to ambush you when you least expect it.

"I hate these woods," she panted, trudging wearily among the spooky trees. "There's too many monsters. Where do you guys all come from?"

Oaf, an odd creature not much shorter than herself, shrugged his shaggy shoulders.

"We just...come from the forest, I guess," he mumbled, scratching one of his stubby horns, "like the way people come from towns."

Kim sighed and pressed on. Why was she here? She just wanted to go home, not that the monsters at home were any better. Barely a year out of college and her life just kept getting crazier, if it didn't get worse. Heck, here she was in a forest filled with monsters, trusting a monster to get her out alive!

They came to a small clearing. With a heavy sigh, Kim stumbled to her knees.

"That's it," she said, so tired she couldn't sit straight on her heels, "we're stopping here for tonight."

"Sure. Yes, you—erm—yeah..." he stammered awkwardly.

She was almost glad his almond-shaped eyes glowed red. She could barely see him as it was, the fur covering his body was so dark.

Kim clenched her fists, feeling worn out and helpless. She couldn't even have a human companion to help her home. Sure, Oaf was just an undersized, timid, and fidgety monster—but he had no clue how to deal with humans, non-monsters, and especially girls. The fact that he was nicknamed "Oaf" by his fellow monsters did not lighten her concern. His gawky manner did not aggravate her half as much as it made her feel unable to talk to him. Sometimes, she wondered if she'd feel less lonely if she really was alone.

"You're...really sad, Kim," the charred face said softly.

Shaken from her thoughts, Kim frowned.

"Like anyone gives a damn," she answered.

Her teeth were set but her lips quivered. This was not the time to start crying. He shuffled closer timidly. She felt the prick of his claws as the sharpened points gently grazed her shoulder.

"I can give a damn," Oaf said. "I am a monster."

"Not really..." she grunted, trying to keep the tremble out of her voice. "I mean, I've seen worse monsters than you—and they look damn hotter and sexier than you ever will!" She had to bite her lips to keep from saying anything more.

"Did they hurt you?" Oaf asked. She didn't answer. "Are you mad at them?"

"Nope," she said briskly.

Oaf rocked back and forth on his heels, waiting for a moment. Then he tried another question, "Are you mad at yourself?"

"Nope."

From the corner of her eye, she watched Oaf study her face. The clenched jaw, shut mouth, focused stare into nothing, and refusal to look at him; she knew he could see she was angry. He could probably smell the sweat gathering in the palms of her balled hands.

Kneeling beside her hunched form, he asked her, "Kim, who are you mad at?"

She shook her head. He fidgeted for a few minutes, waiting for her to speak. But the words just would not come.

Part of her wanted to tell him. Maybe she'd feel better, maybe this strange little monster with his stubby horns and hairy body would understand how much she had been kicked around by her parents and boyfriend. But every time she went to begin, she thought of another reason why it just wouldn't make sense to him. 

He didn't know about anything in her modern life. He lived in the woods, probably bathed in the river once a month, and foraged for bugs in dead trees. How would he know anything about abusive fathers, neglectful mothers, faithless partners, and draining work-shifts?

No, she couldn't bear to hear his fumbling efforts to cheer her up. His ignorance would probably make him blunder into a comment that would make things worse, like he did at the swamp. These conflicting feelings—on top of the anger she was already battling—drained her courage every time she began to speak.

He drew in a quick breath every time she started, and let it out every time she stopped. His horns twitched so often from the anticipation, they began to itch. He reached for a dry twig and scratched just below the base of his horns, where the bone merged with his scalp.

She continued to push her fists against the ground, when she heard him give a little gasp. A minute later, she saw the stick edge near her, and he poked her hand with it. When she looked at him in confusion, he scratched into the ground,

I am mad at ___________

Then he handed her the stick.

"Write it down," he said.

She took the stick, and stared at the words for a long time. Finally, she wrote.

I am mad at Everything__

His whole body wriggled. He reached for the stick and quickly scratched her word away. She was surprised. He was usually so quiet and shy, but now he was quivering excitedly from horn to blistered foot.

He must be annoyed with my vagueness, she thought. He's clearly never dealt with girls.

However, when he pulled back, she read:

I am mad at Every______

"Now, for every 'thing' that's bothering you, write what that 'thing' stands for," he said, taking her hand.

He placed the stick on her palm and curled her fingers over it. He smiled at her encouragingly, but in the small corners of his rubbery lips, she saw the faintest tremble. She knew he was worried she'd lose her patience with him—again.

You bumbling little freak, she thought to herself, how could you possibly understand a broken heart?

In spite of herself, she set the stick to the ground. Mechanically, her hand scrawled out,

I am mad at Everylie Mom told me

Then...

Every lie Mom told me
punch Dad gave me
bully in school
mean look from snobs
late check from work
broken promise

She wrote faster and more shakily. Oaf touched her shoulder, but it shook so violently from writing, he lowered his claws. Her breath grew sharp and heavy.

"Friend" who moved past me
time help WALKED OUT
MONSTER who pretended to LOVE ME
BITCH I SEE IN THE MIRROR


The stick broke in her fingers, its shards scattering over the words. Forced to stop, she looked at what she had written, panting and heaving. As her eyes fell upon the jagged words, their full, painful, and inescapable meaning burst upon her brain.

She could feel the lump rising in her throat. She tried to stumble to her feet, tried to move away from Oaf. He couldn't see her cry like this. But the floodgates had been held in check for too long—there was no going back. Falling against a broken stump, Kim broke down.

Her sobs were labored and uneven. The tears rolled down her cheeks like salty raindrops on a drenched windshield. She tried to wipe the teardrops away, but more kept coming. She gave up and leaned her face into her arms, smothering her sobs and moans.

Somehow she heard Oaf shift closer to her. He put his hand to her shoulder.

"Kim, I—I'm so sorry—I had no idea—" His breath was faltering.

Kim glanced over her shoulder, seeking out his eyes. They were wet. His rubbery lips twitched like a tense piece of string and two little damp lines were traced over his fuzzy cheeks. Was he crying, too?

Kim forced a sad smile through her tears, "How could you know, Oaf? I'm a busted girl. You're a monster. We're different, that's all."

His face screwed up and his lips pressed against each other so hard, she saw his buck teeth poking out. Shifting away from her, he pulled his hand back and folded his arms, tucking his hands under his armpits.

"You're right," he managed to say, "I'm nothing like you."

He looked away and pressed his eyelids together several times.

"I'm sorry, Kim."

She felt like she had touched a nerve. What was wrong with being different? Heck, she was nothing like her co-worker Tamara—or sheesh, forget being like Tamara's weirdo boyfriend. But they all got along fine.

And Oaf looked nothing like Urghin, but they seemed to be friends. Yorqua was nice to both Oaf and herself and he could breathe underwater!

Oh, you silly monster, she thought to herself. I'm not upset because I'm different.

She began to lean forward, when her hand brushed something on the stump. It wasn't an object, it was a groove. But it didn't feel like a natural one. Curious, she turned away from Oaf and looked at the stump.

That's when she saw it, carved into the wood,

I am mad at EVERY time Zoa calls me names
time a bigger monster hits me
"shut up!"
"Oaf the Idiot!"
time Urghin brags about his girlfriends
time SOMEONE CALLS ME A MONSTER
time I SCARE little children
THING that makes me a M o 
N S T E R

Dozens of lines swirled away from the words and came back to the them. The words weren't carved nor were they chiseled with a knife. They were clawed. Kim felt her heart compress like a tightened valve.

"Oaf...?" she began softly.

Instantly, he looked at her. Then his eyes saw her hand placed upon the stump. A flash of fear crossed his face and he edged closer, peering keenly.

She almost couldn't bring herself to ask, "Did you—?"

She stopped. The expression on his face told her everything. He looked at her and tried to answer. His mouth opened, but no words came. For a moment, he just gaped at her mutely.

Then, he threw his head back—and he roared. Again. And again.

There was no fury in his roars, only agony. Kim pressed against the stump, whimpering in fear. She wasn't afraid of what he would do to her, she was afraid of his pain. How much hurt was buried inside that hairy body? How often had she twisted the knife further into his heart by calling him a 'monster'?

Oaf let out a final roar, then crumpled into a ball, shaking and sobbing. Kim felt like she had murdered him. This good, sweet little creature had helped her through so many close calls, brought her safely through so many perils, never even thinking to ask for payback. But she, oblivious and wrapped in her own pain, had never once thought how she might be hurting his feelings by treating him like he was just like the real monsters they'd encountered.

"Oaf?" she said, edging closer.

He scrambled to all fours and darted behind a nearby trunk. "I'm—sorry—" he snorted.

"Oaf! No, I'm sorry!" she called, her tears returning. She stood up and approached the trunk. "Please don't run away, Oaf! I'm so sorry I called you a—"

"I am a monster!" he groaned.

"No, you're not a monster!" she insisted.

"Yes, I am!!" he shouted, suddenly emerging from his hiding place. "Look at me! The claws, the horns, the black fur, the red eyes, the ugly face!" he gestured to each part mentioned with jagged, jerky motions, "Everything about me makes me a monster!"

After this outburst of emotion, he shrank back, eyeing her apprehensively. Kim stepped closer.

"Not this," she said, touching his furry chest. "You have a heart underneath all that. That's why you're not a monster," she sighed sadly, "I'm sorry I didn't see your heart before, Oaf."

"Nobody sees my heart," he scowled, eyes swimming with tears, "and nobody...gives... a damn."

Kim slipped her arms under his and pulled him close.

"I can give a damn," she whispered softly. "I am a girl."

Kim felt him tilt his head awkwardly to the side as she hugged him. She knew he was afraid of poking her with his horns, and she smiled as his fuzzy chin itched her shoulder.

"Oaf...I'm sorry for every time Zoa called you names."

His arms stiffened, his body grew rigid. Then she heard him mumble shakily, "I'm sorry for every lie your Mum told you."

"I'm sorry for every time a bigger monster hit you," she said, stroking his back.

"I'm sorry for every time your dad punched you, Kim," he faltered.

"And for—for every time your stupid friend bragged about his girlfriends," Kim laughed, but her voice cracked.

"For every time a friend forgot you," he croaked.

He was leaning into her now, and she held him tighter.

"For every time someone—called you a monster."

"For every monster who pretended to love you..."

"And... and I'm sorry—" Kim's voice broke. She was too heartbroken to finish. She felt his furry arms hold her stronger.

"I'm sorry for every time you see yourself as a bitch," he choked. "...I don't see you as a bitch..."

That was the last nail in the coffin. Kim felt overwhelmed by feelings of tenderness and guilt towards Oaf. No one was less deserving to be called a monster.

"Oh, Oaf!" she wept, "I wish...I wish I could make you see you're not...a monster!"

His shoulders began to shake. Before long, she could feel the tears from his eyes wet her shoulder, and every now and then a muffled roar rose above her sobs.

They held each other, the young woman and the monster, for a long time.

 

Pain isn't easily erased, but it can be softened.

 


Submitted: November 04, 2020

© Copyright 2020 BloodRose17. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Ann Sepino

One of the most interesting samples I've read, to be honest. :) The breakdown scene was exquisitely excruciating, as all breakdown scenes should be. Well-composed too! Kim is relatable, and Oaf already feels like every reader's favorite cinnamon roll. ^w^

If you feel like turning this into a longer story, then just go for it. Great job and good luck!

Wed, November 4th, 2020 3:08am

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