At night, the monster pads down the hall. Her bare feet are soft on the floorboards.
Who’s that trip-trap-tripping down my hall?
Who’s that rap-rip-rapping at my door?
At night, the monster comes into my bed. She lies down beside me. Her hair is pale as wheat. Her lips are dark as cherries. Her skin is salty as a river. She smells of smoke and chocolate. She puts her fingers into my mouth. She wants to pull out my tongue. My tongue is the root and my heart is the seed. She wants to pull it out, all of it. She wants to salt and eat me.
I bite down on her fingers. She pushes in further. I bite, and bite. There is blood on the pillow. Blood on the sheets. Her tears wash over me. She pinches my nostrils shut. She presses her cheek against my cheek. She begs me to give him back.
He is not mine to give.
In my dreams I have no tongue. When she comes into my bed I am waiting. I sit up, and pull back the sheets to welcome her. I smile and open my mouth. I show her the emptiness inside me. What she seeks she will never find.
At night, I close my bedroom door. I climb into the dark, dark cupboard. I pull the doors closed. I push aside the shoes. I burrow past the shirts and dresses. I press my cheek against the back of the cupboard. I close my eyes and press my fingertips against the wood. I beg him to come. I beg him to pull me through the wardrobe to the other side. I beg him to forgive me.
In the dark, dark forest there is a dark, dark house.
In the dark, dark house there is a dark, dark room.
In the dark, dark room there is a dark, dark cupboard.
In the dark, dark cupboard there is a dark, dark child.
In the dark, dark child there is a dark, dark secret.
In the mornings, he used to wake me with a kiss. He put his finger to his lips and winked. He sat me up on the edge of the bed. He set a crown of flowers on my head; knelt at my feet and put slippers on my feet. We tiptoed through the empty house. In the kitchen, he filled a bowl with all the things we like to eat. Sugar plums and Turkish delight. Chocolate frogs and candy cigarettes. A tin of hard lemony sweets covered in white icing sugar. He hoisted the good tablecloth like a sail and let it drop over the table. He covered the floor beneath the table with pillows and cushions and blankets. Underneath the table we sat in state. The changeling king and his changeling child. We sucked food from each others’ fingers, we slurped and gulped and giggled and sang. Time to go, time to go, he said.
Go where? I asked.
He drew me up onto his lap. His dark eyes like mine. His dark curls. His smell of soap and cigarettes. Back where we came from. Back to the faer. Out of this dirty human strife. I tried to wipe away his tears with the hem of my nightie.
Is it far? I asked.
He shook his head. It’s where we belong, you and I. In the land of magic. The land of dreams.
I should stop here. This is where the dark gets in.