The wind outside wailed like the lonely whistle of a desert train.
Miranda tucked her nose under the covers, sleepy but always alert.
Monsters were creatures who loomed large at night. In the daylight, it was at least a possibility to deal with a monster. To run, to hide, maybe to persuade. But at night, where could you run in your nightdress? What if you fell in the dark and were caught? Even if you made it outside the house; a girl in her nightdress in the dark and cold. That was just one problem exchanged for another. Miranda knew. Miranda tumbled these thoughts in her mind almost every night. Miranda was trapped with her monsters.
She considered for the thousandth time who she could tell. Her school friends might laugh or pity her, or even talk about her if she made them mad one day. To hand anyone that power was too much for her pride. To tell a teacher would be too embarrassing for words. A teacher would be sure to tell other teachers and then she would be able to feel their watchful, pitying eyes boring through to her soul in every lesson. It was too much of a risk. Besides, she might be sent away to god knows where. Strangers in strange places who could turn out to be monsters themselves.
Miranda slowly drifted into an uneasy sleep as her problems revolved in their daily ritual.
The click of the door opening woke her instantly. Was it monster one or monster two?
As much as she hated him, monster one was marginally preferable. Monster one spoke kindly to her; apologised for the cruel pain he caused her and a short while later sloped off into the night. If she struggled, he pinned her down. But it was all over briefly and she was learning that the less she struggled the faster it was over.
It was monster two who really made her flesh creep. Monster two was by far the worst. By day presenting a front to the world and even to Miranda. She cleaned house, baked cakes and generally endeared herself to one and all as a good neighbour. She did all the textbook Mom stuff as far as Miranda could tell. She even acted like she loved Miranda. But Miranda knew different.
Because the day that Miranda told Mom about monster number one, mom slapped her hard across the face and told her never to come to her again and speak such wicked lies. Mom told Miranda that she was ashamed to call her a daughter.
So that was the day two years ago when Mom turned into monster number two.
The door clicked closed again. The lonely wind wailed outside the window. Miranda slipped into a deep sleep.