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A recurrent childhood dream: I’m in my mother’s kitchen. White ruffled curtains, encouraged by a breeze, float in and out of open windows. It’s like a gunshot when the banging starts, and it’s coming from the door leading to the basement. The door is locked, but the top panel heaves, hinges straining. The wood begins to splinter, fraying like a worn blanket. I sprint to my bedroom, dive under the bed. I hear the crash as the door gives way. The gorilla is coming for me.


End-of-summer treasure hunt. Bobby discovers a bottle that most certainly contains a magic potion. He pours it on the ground; the acrid potion bubbles like a witch’s cauldron. Joanne kicks dirt on the sizzling stew, splashing muddy drops on Lori’s legs. She screams. I get dad. He grabs his medical stash, borrowed from the ambulance he drives. As dad wraps bandages around her skinny thighs, Lori doesn’t even wince. You should see a doctor, he says. Thank you, Lori replies, then limps home. An hour later, it’s her father who is lurching down the street, his speech slurred: “I don’t need your god-damned help to take care of my god-damned kid.” When school starts, I see Lori at the bus stop. The day is warm, but she’s wearing pants and long sleeves.


Another dream repeats itself. It arrives my freshman year in college and follows me into middle age: I’m in the final week of exams and there’s a class I’ve failed to attend all semester–-a writing course, the location of the classroom a mystery. The final is today, if I can find the room. It takes hours, but I do. The professor, a well-respected writer, looks up as I enter. “I’m surprised you even bothered,” he says. “You should never have been in this class in the first place.”


I wake from surgery, hurting. The nurse asks my pain level. I say eight, maybe nine. Better yet, I say, it feels like a rabid dog is inside me, attempting to eat its way out. She adjusts a dial on the IV pole. I close my eyes.


I’m walking along when a gust of wind lifts me off the ground. I’m terrified-–I was almost flying, for God’s sake. Was it just the wind, or . . . ? I close my eyes, concentrate, and sure enough, I’m lifting off again. The wind carries me higher, but I’m no longer afraid, the breeze my partner in this adventure. It provides the initial lift, but I decide how high I rise. When I wake, the disappointment in my chest tethers me back to reality. 


It’s 2 a.m., sweltering; my baby and I are stuck together as we pace back and forth. I attempt a lullaby. She starts to cry and I join her. Will she ever sleep through the night? It’s been months and this night owl routine is killing me. Maybe I’m just no good at this. The air in the room changes, the temperature plunging, and a breeze like cool rain washes over us. The air, once heavy, now feels light. I smell lilacs through the open window. The baby shifts against me and her damp curls brush my cheek. I can’t be certain—I don’t want to move her to check—but I think she’s asleep.


What are your monsters?

Artwork by Marloes Hilckmann on Unsplash


  1. I loved the baby one, that happened to me one nite. The monster one not so much Did the professor know you? I didn’t follow to well.gerrejarecki

    • Thanks for commenting Mom! This particular piece was written in response to a writing assignment where I was supposed to imagine several different kinds of monsters in my life.

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