“Mom, you’ve got to believe me! There’s a monster inside the closet!”
“Liam! For the thousandth time, there is no monster in your closet! You should stop watching those horror cartoons and playing those stupid games on your tablet!”
“Go to sleep! I have an early conference tomorrow, and I need to prepare!”
Liam’s mom tucked him in and hurriedly kissed his forehead. She left the door open a bit, but she forgot to turn on the night light before she left.
Liam sighed. He switched on his night light and waited. He had made up his mind. This had been his mother’s last chance. And she had blown it.
Liam stared at the door of the closet intently. He tried to still his breathing, because he had to be prepared to go through his plan. It was the only way he could be free.
The closet door opened a fraction of an inch. Liam had to rub his eyes, because he wasn’t sure whether it was just his imagination or if there was really something there. Some part of him wanted to suddenly confirm that he was really just imagining everything, like what his mother said.
But then the door opened another inch. And when it was opened around six inches, it stopped. Liam knew from experience that it would take a few more minutes before the door opened wider and the monster appeared and his nightmare would begin. He had only a few minutes.
He took the glass of water on his bedside table, drank a few gulps, and then screamed at the top of his lungs.
As always, it took his mother a few minutes before she stomped into his room, irritation on her face.
“Liam! I swear! You are just doing this to annoy me! I need my sleep! I don’t need your drama tonight!”
“Mom, I am seven years old. Couldn’t it be possible that I screamed because I really am scared and I just need my mother? You are still my mother, right? Not just someone who looks at me like a burden?”
Liam’s mother couldn’t speak. She stared at the little boy that used to mean the world to her. The little boy that she loved to death, and for a moment, she almost went to him to embrace him, sorry that she had been short with him the past couple of weeks.
She had been struggling to make ends meet. The separation from Liam’s father had taken a toll on her, and she just didn’t have time to coddle a troublesome little boy at this point in time. So instead of softening, she hardened and said the words that sealed her fate.
“Do you blame me for looking at you like a burden? You have done nothing but try to make me believe this far-fetched lie about a monster in your closet. Liam, we have to face reality. We no longer live the perfect life. The sooner you realize that the better. I am trying my best!”
“Mom, I’m seven. I don’t have to face reality just yet. But you do.”
Liam’s mother looked at the steely resolve of her son, dressed in his Transformerspajamas, tucked under the Marvel superheroes blanket on his bed. He looked at her, not as the innocent seven-year-old boy she was trying to make grow up fast, but as a person that was years beyond his age. And there was something in his eyes.
She heard a loud creak and the closet door to her side opened wide.
Before she could ask Liam what he meant, she saw something emerge from the closet, something she would not have ever imagined existing in her entire life. This “something” was huge and dark and had lots of teeth. And this something had suddenly taken hold of her and was dragging her into the closet. It was happening so fast, she couldn’t react. She didn’t even have time to scream. She felt the most exquisite pain and then there was blackness as the closet door closed.
The monster will no longer bother Liam, ever again.
Liam stood up, went to the closet, and opened it gently. Inside, he saw the familiar sight of his clothes and toys on the shelves. He smiled, and closed it again, just as gently.
He went back to bed, prepared to have a good night’s sleep, something he has not had for the past weeks. Before he closed his eyes, he whispered some final words to his mom.
“If only you believed me . . .”