Moving Polaroids Part II
I got off the school bus and walked up the long driveway to my house. My father wasn't home from work yet. My mother had left only moments before to handle the night shift, and my grandfather was most likely puttering around the barn or feeding the animals.
I walked over the small culvert pipe bridge with the stream babbling beneath (always, always, always making me think of the Three Billy Goats Gruff), past the springhouse, where the water was ice cold and so pure and fresh it almost tasted as if there was sugar in the water. I walked up the stone steps winding through the rose bushes and trimmed lilacs and up the stairs into the house.
In the kitchen, I slung off my backpack and grabbed some chocolate milk from the fridge and a handful of cookies from the cabinet. I set them on the kitchen table and turned to switch on the tv, and stopped dead in my tracks. My stomach turned to mercury and the hair stood up on the back of my neck and arms.
There was a monster in my kitchen.
Its head was enormous, its four-inch jagged teeth brilliant white rows framed in thick, blood-red lips. A black mustache curled, Dali-esque, at least a foot wide, and eyes the size of grapefruits rested beneath furrowed brows. Its expression was fierce and full of rage and I know I jumped backward, almost falling on my ass in the middle of my own kitchen.
And then I began to giggle.
All alone, in the middle of the kitchen, I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt and my ribs ached. I think if my grandfather or either of my parents had found me there, they'd think I'd gotten into the cough medicine.
My loving mother, during her hours before leaving to work the night shift, had taken an oversized brown grocery bag and created a monster worthy of battling Jason and the Argonauts.
The artwork had been done in felt marker, and the teeth had been colored in heavily with white crayon. The thing was hideous. It was terrible. It was scary and enormous and eclipsed the monsters I'd read in The Wild Thing.
I absolutely loved it.
I took it to school with me the next day and brought home a prize ribbon (oh button your lip... I was seven. ALL the parents did their kids costumes) and I'd like to think that as happy as I was, it gave my mother some pride to know that she truly pulled it off with her creativity.
I inherited my mother's streak of mischief... her slightly twisted sense of humor (all right, all right... so mine's a bit MORE twisted) and her sense of play.
I still have that monster mask... I just wear it on the inside now.