Katie and Tim
“But why?” asked Katie.
“Well, that’s a complicated question,” replied Tim as his hulking frame sank deeper into the edge of her mattress. The glow of the night-light cast their shadows across the wall.
“Perhaps it’s because they want to prepare you,” said Tim.
“Prepare me for what?”
“Does life have monsters in it?”
Tim looked down at Katie, snuggled under the warmth of her favorite blanket. He knew he shouldn’t be talking about this subject. It was a Monster Regulation cited in the official Monster Charter. Discussing it with the child that he was supposed to be scaring was especially off-limits.
But Katie wasn’t like other children. From the very first time she had seen Tim, she looked at him with a deep curiosity. For weeks he had tried to terrify, spook or even shock Katie, but no matter what tactics he used, she always met his gaze with wonder and in many cases skepticism. Eventually Tim gave up the struggle and, instead of trying to frighten her awake, he would rock her to sleep by gently bouncing up and down on the foot of her mattress.
Now she was eight-years-old and there was no end to her questions. She would lie awake at night and ask about the universe, about human nature, about monster life – it was the most stimulating relationship Tim had had in years.
Tonight though, he was stumped. “Why are there monster stories?” Katie had asked. All of a sudden, Tim was having a conversation he wasn’t ready to have.
He took a deep breath.
“…Katie, there are some pretty scary things out there in the world…things that you’ll learn about when you’re older. Things like earthquakes and influenza and credit scores. Or worse things like hunger and destruction and loss.
So when people tell monster stories, they’re letting you know that it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to fear what’s in the dark, what you don’t know. Because that’s life. Life is scary and unknown. Sometimes it’s horrifying–but sometimes it’s thrilling. And the more prepared we are, the more we can embrace the mystery of it all.”
Katie looked at Tim for a long moment, then responded, “OK. Fair enough. But why are there monsters?”
Tim held her gaze and replied, “Why are there humans?”