Megan tried very hard to ignore the voice.
She knew she was being rude but she carried on walking, feeling the guilt niggle at her stomach with every step. He was her only friend after all. Her best friend. Even if he was a monster.
But she could feel her sister’s eyes following her. For weeks now, Rachel had stared at her with an intensity Megan didn’t understand. Ever since she had shown her sister the drawings of her monster, Rachel had followed her around constantly, sometimes materialising into her room so suddenly it was as if she had a secret store of fairy dust.
Usually Megan would have loved to spend so much time with her sister, but she had the feeling Rachel was only there to see the monster again, not her. She’d started locking her bedroom door, even when Daddy was away. Rachel didn’t like that, but then again, she didn’t ask her friend to come back and take the locks away.
Her monster was getting annoyed now. Megan wanted to run, but Rachel was still watching her. If she ran across the road, Rachel would have an excuse to make her stay inside. She was surprised when Rachel had let her go out alone, but judging by the angry silence at breakfast, she probably didn’t want Megan to hear the argument that was obviously about to happen. Megan wasn’t stupid.
She’d known how to get out of the house, even if her monster hadn’t whispered it to her. The tantrum she’d thrown over her cereal had made her mum so angry she’d yelled at the girl to get out of the house. Happily skipping to the front door, Megan swept passed Rachel’s red face and thin lips.
She was about to cross the road when the headache started. A sharp pain squirmed behind her eyes so suddenly that Megan gasped out loud and flung her hands to her forehead before she could stop herself.
“Stop it!” She whispered harshly, hoping that no one was walking close enough to hear as the world had dimmed behind the flare of red that swept through her vision.
Her senses were suffocating her but she could still feel Rachel’s stares.
“Please!” Megan gasped again, “She’s watching. I’ll talk to you soon, I promise!”
The pain intensified for a moment, then snapped off, forcing Megan to stumble forward with the sudden release. Panting, Megan straightened up and tucked her hair behind her ears. There was no one around to see her stumble, though Megan couldn’t stop herself from glancing over her shoulder.
Rachel was still there, a concerned frown on her face and one foot out of the door. Megan forced a smile on her face and waved goodbye. Rachel’s frown lessened slightly and she closed the front door firmly behind her once Megan had successfully crossed the road and pushed the gate open to the park.
“That wasn’t very nice.” Megan sniffled as she walked under the metal frame that used to hold the swings that lay lonely and crumpled on the ground.
It was an accident. I was angry.
“Well it still wasn’t very nice.” Megan muttered to herself, knowing the playground would be deserted.
Cheering up a little at her monster’s obvious contriteness, Megan crunched across the bark towards the climbing frame which had quickly become her favourite destination since she and her monster had discovered it two weeks before. They spent their mornings here when Mummy let them out to play. They usually had the whole playground to themselves before the teenagers who lived across the road came to lounge across the bench with their clinking plastic carrier bags.
Avoiding the hiding place on the ground level, Megan swiftly ran up the slide, her trainers squeaking against the metal. She liked to do things backwards.
Tucked in the wooden construction was a little room with a small table and bench. Humming to herself, Megan carefully put down her backpack onto the table and fished in it for her crayons.
“What should we make today?” Megan asked, happier now that she was hidden from view.
Something different. Something to stop her from watching you.
Megan frowned, “What do you mean?”
That nosey girl. Let’s make something to stop her from prying.
“You mean Rachel? She’s just making sure I’m okay.” Megan muttered uncertainly.
You are okay. You have me.
Megan bit her lip and stared at the walls covered from floor to ceiling in crayon. She’d ran out of her favourite colours long ago and had to move on to the yucky ones. She’d asked for new ones but Mummy had told her off, thinking she must have lost them. That was before her monster had shown her how to hide things inside her cardigan at the newsagent around the corner. She picked a new blue crayon, it’s shape smooth and perfect.
“I know, but she doesn’t know that.”
Well let’s make it so she never finds out.
Megan frowned as she listened to her monster. He had a point, but Rachel looked after her. She didn’t mean to be annoying. Her hand aimlessly christened the crayon on the table by drawing fangs and tails on the stick figure children she had drawn the day before.
You shouldn’t do that.
Megan ignored him and kept on scribbling. She could only change little things, it wasn’t like the children would come in to school the next day with monkey tails and claws. That image cheered up her up immensely.
Don’t ignore me!
“What?” Megan huffed sulkily.
“Fine.” Megan snapped, “but I’m not going to be mean.”
Almost without thinking, crayons appeared in Megan’s hand and Rachel slowly started to materialise on the remaining space on the table. Her tongue poked out in concentration, she didn’t hear the gate of the park squeak open again.
“There.” Megan announced happily once Rachel was finished, complete in her yellow dress. She was getting better at people.
Her smile disappeared instantly when black lines started to materialise from Rachel’s feet.
“Stop it!” Megan cried as her sister disappeared behind prison bars. This time it was her monster’s turn to ignore her. Rachel’s flat blue eyes stared mournfully at the little girl with the crayon in her hand. “I said stop it! Now!”
This time he did, though it was too late for the two dimensional Rachel. She stood lonely and trapped behind the prison bars, staring mournfully at Megan.
“Turn her back!” Megan ordered.
She’s not hurt. She just won’t bother us like this now.
“Don’t shush me!” Megan huffed grumpily.
No. Someone’s coming!
Megan looked up. Her monster was right. She could hear voices outside and the telltale sound of feet clambering up the ladder.
She could run and make it to the slide before they made it to the top but Megan found herself scratching her crayon on the table again while her monster’s attention was directed outside. Scribbling a key into Rachel’s hand quickly, Megan could have sworn that the little image winked at her.
Delighted at her mischief, Megan felt the monster turn back to her and quickly shoved the crayon into her pocket.
But it was too late. The smile instantly dropped when she saw who had climbed into her hiding place. Two girls blocked her path out.
“Umm, you’ve drawn over everything!” Nadia gasped in false shock.
“No I haven’t,” Megan muttered, hoping the girls wouldn’t recognise their likeness in some of the drawings, even with the extra animal features.
“You’re going to get in so much trouble!” Nadia drawled. Her sister simply glared at Megan in silence.
“It wasn’t me!” Megan lied.
“Yes it was. You know what they do to dirty people like you who graffiti things? The police will take you away.”
Megan gripped her backpack to her chest.
“No they won’t.” She muttered quietly.
“They will. And they put you in a grubby little cell with no windows and you won’t see your family ever again!”
Her eyes flicked to the drawing of her sister trapped behind bars and bit her lip. She backed against the wall, desperately wishing that her monster real. Not just in her head but in the real world so he could fight them and then run away with her. She felt his presence like a hug. His concern pressed against her and she knew he wished it too. “Leave me alone!”
“I bet they’d be so happy to see you go. I bet they can’t wait!” Nadia laughed.
Megan felt the tears building inside her but knew she was too scared to really cry. The girls stepped forward, their lips twisting into smiles, knowing Megan had nowhere to go.
Megan pressed herself against the wall, instantly sorry for snapping at the monster before. If only he could protect her.
“Where?” she begged in her head.
Then her feet were moving before she realised it. She slammed into the two girls and knocked them backwards. Twisting on the spot she made a dive to the left and the slide to freedom but one of them had grabbed her hair.
Kicking as hard as she could, she knew the monster was with her. She could feel his terror and panic as forcefully as her own but she could also feel his strength. Her foot hit something fleshy which squealed in pain and then they were free.
Throwing herself down the slide, she tumbled onto the ground painfully, tearing her tights and skinning her knee. She would get in trouble for that, she knew, but at that moment she didn’t care because she was running across the park and they couldn’t catch her because she was that quick.
We’ll need to find another hiding place.
The words were said with a resigned sigh but Megan could feel the anger and sorrow beneath them. She didn’t bother answering but continued to run.