The first time the sea monsters showed up, Anna’s mama was out of the bathroom, leaving her alone in the bathtub. As with most monsters, Anna was frightened at first. But she was brave enough at five years old, to ask each of the monsters its name. The first was so startled that it stopped mid-howl. a couple of the others continued on for a moment before their howls and growling started to fade. They looked so startled Anna couldn’t stop the giggle.
The first monster cocked it’s head, two of it’s three eyes tried to look directly at her but even though they were kind of where they would have been on a human but they were cocked wrong and only the third eye seemed to be able to focus on her. “Why aren’t you afraid of us? I’m Gennie, well my monster name is longer and it sounds scary but it’s really hard to pronounce even if you were a monster. ” She tried to pierce Anna with a long scary stare, but Anna just giggled again. The other monsters had all stopped howling by now and while they all looked scary. They just weren’t, not to Anna, she knew what scary really was.
“Well” The spidery looking monster behind Gennie demanded. “Why aren’t you scared of us?”
“Because” well, and now Anna stopped and her lip trembled. “I know real monsters.” They don’t look as scary as you. Sometimes they look just like the people on TV, real pretty and all. Except….” and now her face was closing down and a tear was trying to be held back but it was still welling up in her eye.
“Don’t cry.” Gennie begged and the other monsters chimed in. They were used to scaring children. Not a lot. Just enough so they learned that the world could be scary and so they knew that they could face that fear. Children weren’t supposed to have enough fear that they weren’t afraid of monsters.
“What did they do to you?” Gennie sat down on the edge of the tub as close to Anna as she could get.
“Not me. Not yet.” Anna’s voice was barely loud enough to be heard. “It was my papa. They killed him. Just because his money didn’t look right.” The tears were falling down her cheeks now but her words were steady as if she had centuries of experience and grief. “They keep showing it on TV. Mama tries to keep me from seeing but I have.” She looked at Gennie and then the others. All the monsters were sitting near her now. Their eyes were soft and full of compassion and she could feel love and caring radiating from them.
There was a long silence, which Anna finally broke. “It’s your eyes.” She answered a question they’d all forgotten. “That’s why I wasn’t scared.” She hesitated.
“I’ve seen a real monster. His eyes, his eyes they were dead. You’re aren’t. You lot. Your eyes… well, your eyes care” She finally said and let her tears fall into the tub where her mama would never see. The monsters all around her; a soft and loving protection she knew would not leave her.