Monster in the Closet
by G. K. Adams
Clarissa slid the chair into the closet, climbed on it, and stood on tip toe. “This will make Mommy smile again.” She stretched to reach the long gray box on the top shelf. Her tiny fingers skittered along the edge and eased it forward. Before she could get control, however, the box slipped off the shelf and crashed to the floor. A feather boa of many colors spewed from the box, careened across the floor, and out the closet door like a Chinese dragon at New Years. Clarissa squealed, then slapped her hands over her mouth and looked wide-eyed out the door. Had she been heard?
Maybe not. She stepped off the chair and took charge of the gentle monster. She rubbed the feathers on her cheek and sniffed the sweet perfume lingering in its folds. She bundled it as best she could and walked from the closet, but not without stepping on the boa now and again, leaving a wake of yellow, blue, green, pink, magenta feathers.
In front of the full length mirror, she wrapped the boa twice around her neck. She peeked through feathers to see herself. They tickled her nose and she sneezed. The boa trailed behind her – like a bride’s veil, she thought. She paraded back and forth, imagining she was a great lady at a grand party.
Then she ran down the stairs, boa streaming behind.
“Mommy, Mommy, look!” she said, reaching the kitchen. “I got it down all by myself!”
Her mother’s hand flew to her mouth in a gesture not unlike the child’s earlier one. Then she said, “So you did.”
“Am I as pretty as you?” Clarissa asked, holding out her arms and turning right and left.
“Oh, much prettier.” Michelle pulled the child close and put her arms around her.
“Tell me the story again. About the big party.”
“Well, a long long time ago, I was invited to a wonderful costume party. I wore a blue dress and this boa. And that’s where I met your daddy. He was a pirate with a black vest, and red bandana.” Michelle tapped the child on the nose. “It was love at first sight. We got married, and you came to us and we lived happily ever after.” Michelle kissed the child on the forehead.
“You left out the part about the dance!” Clarissa frowned. “Tell me the part about when you danced.”
Her mother laughed. “You know the story better than I do. It’s time for dinner. Let me take this.” She unwound the boa from the child. “I’ll put it away so it stays nice – in case YOU need it for a fancy party someday.”
Clarissa clapped her hands at the thought.
“Sit down at the table. Your dad’ll be late again tonight. I’ve fixed a little supper for you and me. We’ll eat as soon as I put this away.”
The mother turned. Her smile faded. As she climbed the stairs, she rubbed the feathers to her face and sniffed the lingering perfume, not the perfume she had smelled on her husband last week.