• Poetry & Prose



There's a basilisk living under my bed. At night, he sneaks about the room, slithering and squirming, and hissing. If I look into his eyes, I'm done for, so I keep my own tightly shut, no matter how dark it gets. Even if my mother says that's just my imagination and it's because her friend Jenong gave me a Harry Potter book before I was old enough for it. Well, I'm plenty old, a full eight years, and I know he's there. I'm sure of it. And I'm going to prove it to you.

One Friday after we made gingerbread houses and Aaron Pugh peed his pants, Mrs. Becks let us out of class three minutes late and my mother yelled at me because we got stuck behind all the cars in the parking lot. Then she asked me if I'd eaten my avocado pita pocket, and I lied and said yes because I really hadn't since Ashley made fun of me for eating green things. I think maybe she knew I was lying but instead of yelling at me, she told me that Evelyn was coming over while she and my father helped my Aunt Sammy move into her new house. I like Evelyn, but it makes me kind of sad when I see my parents' car bump down the driveway.

My mother forced me to eat a banana and to write my spelling words three times each before Evelyn came over and that feeling of drinking a lot of orange juice too fast filled my stomach. Evelyn told me we were watching a movie, like always, and chose the Titanic, because she said that's what grown-ups watch and I was getting really tall.

When my parents watched it, they sent me to my room and I wanted to peak at the screen, but the view from my room was all wrong. Evelyn didn't send me away, she let me watch the whole entire thing while she texted her boyfriend. But there was a part where I saw the entirety of a girl, and she didn't look anything like me. It made me feel like I was sitting in an oven when the boy that dies looked at her as though he wanted her for dinner. When he was painting her, I felt like I couldn't breathe, like maybe if I so much as moved I would cry and Evelyn would tell me I wasn't a grown-up after all.

But then it was over and the ship was cracking in half and everyone was cold. The doorbell rang in our house, and Evelyn jumped up, telling me to stay where I was. That boy she likes to lick came in, and I couldn't see his eyeballs because of all his hair. She calls him "sweetie," like my grandma calls me, but she says it all wrong, like she's singing really quietly. I'm pretty sure Sweetie doesn't ever wash his hair because he doesn't look or smell like any of the boys I know. He has these hands that kind of scare me, they don't have any hair but they're rough, like they grew up faster than the rest of him, and his fingers look like snakes; scaly and slippery all at once.

Evelyn made me drink milk before she told me it was bedtime, and she tucked me in- not quite the way I like, but she was really nice about it. She told me if I needed anything I could just wake her up, she'd probably fall asleep on the couch. I asked if her if Sweetie was staying and she said yes, it's good to have a man around late at night. I didn't think Sweetie looked very manly, but I think Evelyn liked him okay so I didn't say anything.

When I go to bed at night, I always think about the story of the Princess and the Pea, because sometimes I think that there really is a pea under my mattress, but it doesn't make me feel like a princess. I feel more like Moaning Myrtle, like I want to scream because I know the pea is the first sign that the basilisk is coming for me. Soon enough, I heard a rustle, just like the basilisk gliding over my floor, but I couldn't flip over because then I'd see his eyes. I kept very still, because I didn't want the snake to bite me or hurt me or come anywhere near me. But then the basilisk was on me, in me, all over me, everywhere, hissing, slipping, and I had to keep my eyes shut very tight because it hurt very badly and I was sure dying would hurt more. It was the worst and then it was over, and I could hear him slipping away, back to his cave under my bed, hidden by old board games and crafts.