Where the Night Left

Picture this.

A park, or a public garden, as they are sometimes called. On the edge of a pond. Under a willow tree, cool in the shade, sit a young girl and monster on a blanket. It has the form of a man. The beast’s skin shines oil-black. Its eyes solid, and off-white. Oversized, look like hen eggs in its skull.

The friends feed peanuts to eager squirrels. People walking by glance at the girl and monster. The creature shifts, uncomfortably,

‘I do not think I feel completely at peace here,’ the beast tells the little girl. ‘The people, they do not seem to appreciate my presence.’

The girl nudges her shoulder into the monster. ‘Ah, come on,’ she says, her voice floating like song notes. ‘Who cares about them? This is our day! Our picnic!’

The beast lifts itself from the ground, and stands, looking across the still pond. ‘I must go.’

Onto its ankles, the young girl throws herself. Wrapping her short arms around its calves. ‘No! They don’t matter! Stay stay stay!’

The monster pulls its legs from the girl’s tight grip. Stumbles away from her. ‘I am going. It is not just the people here. Not just this park.’ The dark creature stares down at the girl. She cries, quietly, onto the blanket. ‘As you grow older, as will I. And you will change, and I will change. And one will be like poison for the other.’

The young girl pushes herself up to her knees. ‘You can’t go. Can’t leave.’ She wipes tears from her flushed cheeks.

Turns. The monster turns from the girl. Into the water, into the cold pond, the beast wades. Its body of oil, and scales, and midnight, submerges deeper, then deeper.

‘Do not look for me!’ the sinking creature beckons. ‘Do not! And if you do look, and you do find me, turn from me! As I have from you!’

The little girl crawls to where the water reaches for the grass. The pond laps at her sweet hands. She watches in despair as her friend abandons her. And the squirrels.

The water rises to the monster’s neck. ‘Do not come searching! Do not look for me, darling!’

As the pond swallows the beast, it looks up, under the water, and, There, it thinks, there rests the world. As a distorted sky, holding curving clouds, rolling through the waving water.

Away and gone, the monster drowns.

Do not come looking for me… I cannot promise that I will not come looking for you…

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