Los Angeles, California. I made sure to walk around the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I knew most of the stars and exactly where they were placed by memory of having been here so many times. I shopped at the same corner souvenir shop and then ran up the same flight of stairs to my usual spot to admire the Hollywood sign. I felt like such a tourist even though I lived not even an hour away. My family and I drive to L.A. sometimes just for fun but I think it’s the most amazing place in the world, even better than the time I visited New York. As our short trip came to an end and the sun’s brightness slowly shut down, I looked around, smiled and walked back to the car. As we left the city, I became restless because I knew what was to come.
As we reached the beginning of the freeway, I took a deep breath, shut my eyes and let the anxiety kick in. The flashbacks immediately took over and there was nothing I could do to stop them. How could I have flashbacks of a car crash that never even happened? I remembered everything so clearly. From the burning flames to the pitch black sky. I would be on my knees and yell in agony at the sky like a crazy lady. Everything was dark. Not even a shred of moonlight to help me find my way through all the smoke. Why did I feel so alone all the time? Like there was no one around to help me find my way. I opened my eyes as we slowed down with traffic. Blinded by the surrounding headlights, I looked out the window and wished I was back in L.A., where I could get away from everything.
Sunday morning. I never looked forward to Sundays because it seemed that all anyone ever did was talk about how much they already dreaded tomorrow. Today was different however. My uncle was taking my cousin Sabrina and I to the fair. Sabrina is only one year older than me and I’m 14, which is an obvious factor of why we get along so easily. She’s extremely smart and pretty. She walks and talks with confidence and is basically everything I wish I was. I grabbed my hat and sprinted out the front door into my uncle’s truck. I covered my ears and laughed because I knew his routine. He turned the radio all the way up and gave me a fist pump. I sat in the back seat next to Sabrina and as usual, our laughter was endless.
At the top of the ferris wheel Sabrina and I had the best conversations while my uncle roamed around the fried food stands. She was one of the only people I trusted enough to talk about it with. The thing that grasped the light from my soul each time I mentioned it. My monster. An actual monster. Not like the ones that rip you to pieces with their yellow fangs or the ones that claw the guts out of you until you can only feel pain and nothing else. Well actually, my monster did exactly that except it was invisible to everyone else but myself. That was my problem, it only came after me and nobody could save me because they never saw it so how were they supposed to understand it.
“Don’t worry I won’t tell anyone.” Sabrina promised.
She said she understood but I knew there was no possibility of that considering she was an example of pure perfection. We were at the bottom of the ferris wheel now and I felt strange, like something wasn’t right. Come to think of it, nothing ever was.
Sabrina and I stood in line for the bumper cars. A tall skinny man scanned our wristbands and we jumped into the closest cars. I sat there for a while and wondered if I’d ever get rid of my monster.
I glanced around and didn’t see anyone. I continued up the stairs as I walked to the library. I was early this morning. I needed to finish some math homework from last night. I always kept it for last because I hated it. I heard someone running up the stairs behind me. I moved to the side to let them pass by me but they stopped right on the step where I stood.
“Quinn I called you, didn’t you hear me?”
I was surprised to see Olivia here so early. Olivia is my best friend and she is also the only other person who knows about my monster. We finished our homework as soon as the bell for first period rang. My days at school consisted of the same cycle. Don’t get in trouble, avoid drama, disregard things that annoy you and repeat. Sounds simple but when you have a monster, saying good morning to someone could rip you to shreds.
“Did I do that right?” “Does she think I’m mean?” “Why can’t I be just like that?” I would say to myself.
Every day was a struggle I was never prepared to face.
Night. Olivia was sleeping over tonight because her parents were always away on business trips. Tonight we were exhausted from staying up late because of all the homework so we went straight to sleep instead of watching a movie. She left to the living room and I went to bed. I silenced my cell phone and removed my glasses when suddenly CRASH. I reached back for my glasses and ran to my window which looked directly out onto the street I lived on. An old red car had smashed into the palm tree that stood in our front yard. Flames rapidly grew and smoked fogged up my window. The moon was nowhere in sight. My window was completely full of dust and smoke so I ran to the front door. Olivia wasn’t in the living room. I held breath. I opened the door and shielded my face. The fire that burned the car was the only light I had. I could no longer hold in my breath. I coughed and coughed and I ran to open the car door. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The monster stepped out and grinned. It was tall and round with a horrifying demeanor and he did not even have a scratch on his face. He was as large as a boulder. I stopped coughing and felt the flames heating my body. I looked him straight on waiting for him to explain. All I ever wanted from him was an explanation for the flashbacks that never made any sense to me, but he just left me. He walked away and he laughed at me. I no longer knew where I was. He put me through all of this just for his own satisfaction. He knew my weaknesses. My fear of fire and my lack of confidence. He reenacted it all. The crash I always feared. The flashbacks I never understood. They were all because of him. I fell to my knees and yelled at the cowardly moon. The moon that would never come out when I needed it’s light the most. I needed to see something, anything. It was always to dark and the sun to bright, but the moon was perfect. It gave you light on the darkest nights, but not tonight, not when I needed it. There was nobody here to help me. My monster had won, like he had each day.
The smoke cleared up. I saw Olivia chasing the monster. Where had she been? I got up off the ground and I chased him. I was going to win from now on. I grabbed my monster from his arm, turned him around and lit him on fire. I told him to never come back unless he wanted to lose again. I walked away from the fire that I had created and the night grew lighter and less lonelier as the moon came back and I told myself that if I could defeat a monster, I was definitely good enough. Olivia was standing a couple feet away. We caught our breath before giving each other confused glares. I asked her where she had been when the car crashed.
“I was in the car. I don’t know how I got there but while I was there the monster said something to me. He said he needed to tell you something very important but he wouldn’t tell me what it was. I was trying to tell you that the monster was in the car before you opened the door but he told me to stay silent or else he would hurt us. As soon as I saw him walk away I chased him because I was going to ask him what he was going to tell you but it was too late, you killed him.”
I was more confused than ever now and the little bit of confidence that I did gain from killing the monster had drifted away. I looked back at the fire and wondered what was so important and why he couldn’t tell me when he got out of the car. I felt stupid. I hated myself because of what I was about to say to Olivia.
“You know what Liv, I think I want my monster back because now I’ll never know. He had an explanation for me and he walked away but he wanted me to chase him. He wanted me to beg for an answer but I was tired of begging so I just snapped.”
It felt good to light my monster on fire. I felt relieved now that my monster was gone. I had no explanation but I didn’t need one anymore but then it struck me. My eyes wide open. I knew what was so important. I knew what the monster was trying to tell me. I smirked at the fire and then looked up and winked at the moon.