A little boy was scared of monsters in the closet.
“What if we shut it?” the boy’s father suggested.
“No!” he boy said. “Then the monsters will get hot — they’ll be angry with me. And they’ll want to stretch their legs.”
“Then what if we leave it open a crack?” the boy’s father suggested.
“No!” he boy said. “Then I’ll be watching it all night, to see if the monsters’ fingers are reaching through. And they’ll smell me. If they weren’t hungry before, they will be now.”
The boy’s father sighed. It was bedtime and he could tell the little boy was tired.
“Well,” he said. “If we can’t close the door and we can’t keep it open, I guess you just need to sleep with me.”
“I guess,” the boy said, with evident relief. “Thank you, papa.”
As they walked through the darkened house together, the little boy reached for his father’s hand. “Papa?” he said. “Were my brothers and sister scared of monsters in the closet?”
“No,” the boy’s father said.
“Is that what got them?”
“Now it is time to sleep,” the boy’s father said, dropping his hand and giving a not-gentle shove toward the bed. And the boy tried. But sleep didn’t come easily.
There was once a stern man who had a rambunctious daughter. No matter what rules he insisted upon, she was determined to break them.
“No cookies before dinner,” the man said, but she ate a cookie anyway.
“No running in the house,” the man said, but to and fro she ran.
“No playing outside,” the man said, but she returned with twigs in her hair — so he slapped her. His daughter fell to the floor, where she stared at him with wide eyes, so the man told her, “Don’t poke the bear.”
From then on, whenever his daughter disobeyed him, he slapped her. When she lost a mitten, he slapped her. When she left muddy footprints inside the house, he slapped her. When she spoke sarcastically to him, he slapped her. The man hit her hard enough to make her teeth bleed, and every time he told her, “Don’t poke the bear.”
Until, one night, the man awoke in his bed, in the dark. He could tell that something else occupied the room, something … large. It was so large, it crowded his mattress. The thing was warm and smelled like a muddy warren.
As his eyes adjusted, the man could also see his daughter, standing beside the beast. She seemed unperturbed by its deep, rank breaths.
“Go ahead,” his daughter said. “Poke him.”
“What?” the man babbled. He could only think to reply, “It’s an expression!”
“Not you,” his daughter sneered. “Him.”
In the morning, after putting down a saucer of milk for his kitties, the farmer closed his front door and walked into the lane. There he saw a little girl, playing in the dirt.
“Little girl,” he said. “What are you doing here?” But she didn’t say. She looked so sad and bored that the farmer gave her a pebble from his pocket and said, “Here — plant this magic seed and see what grows.”
That night, when he got home, he was treated to a remarkable sight. Where the little girl had planted the pebble a tree had grown, but not a normal tree — it was short and gnarled, and its branches were bare. Still, the farmer was amazed.
“Little girl,” he said. “How is this possible?” But she didn’t say. So the farmer went inside, shaking his head.
In the morning, after putting down a saucer of milk, he opened the front door and saw the same little girl as before, playing in the dirt.
“Here,” he said, handing her another pebble. “Plant this magic seed and see what grows.” He chuckled nervously to himself when he said it, but the girl just stared.
That night, when he got home, he was treated to another remarkable sight. Where the little girl had planted the second pebble a rose bush had grown, but the roses were all black as tar, with thorns that made the farmer’s eyes water.
“Little girl,” he said. “What sorcery is this?” But she didn’t say. So the farmer went inside and bolted the door. The kitties walked in circles around his ankles as he parted the curtains and peeked outside.
In the morning, the farmer ignored the little girl. When she reached out for him, he slapped her hand away. “No more pebbles!” he said. “Leave me alone!”
That night, when he got home, the little girl was sitting where he’d left her, surrounded by fresh mounds of dirt. The farmer walked inside, but immediately he noticed that things were missing — his cups, his books, even his pictures in their frames. He became frantic when he couldn’t find his kitties, not even one.
The farmer hurried outside. “What have you done?” he shouted at the little girl. But she just held up a finger to her lips.
“Shh,” she said. “I’m waiting to see what grows.”
This is a repository for JY's original content that's yet to be bound in a book -- essays, short fiction, etc. There's little rhyme or reason, so jump in!