Sometimes the world seen through the eyes of a five your old are how things really are…
Grace sat at the small table inside her bedroom that was just her size. The legs on it adjusted and every year her father would raise it a little higher to show she grew a little taller. Her face was the picture perfect definition of determined focus as she hunched over her construction paper, crayons moving rapidly.
She wore her new summer pajama's. Brown cotton shorts and a bright green tank top with a glittering frog on the stomach. Her white-blond hair was braided and mostly dry from her after dinner bath. She was a rebel of a five year old. Up past her bed time with her bedroom door only cracked open to suggest otherwise.
She ignored the footsteps and the hall light that flipped on. She was working on her greatest work to date!
"Grace. Shouldn't you be in bed, kid?" her mother chuckled, pushing the door all the way open and leaning on the frame.
"Uh uh." She continued.
"I'll rephrase than." Her mother smiled briskly, walking into the room and pulling the covers back on the bed. "You can color some more tomorrow. Right now it's time for bed."
Grace looked up at her mom, a pout sliding across her face. Had it been her dad in the room, it might have worked, but her mother was unmoved.
"But I'm not tired." She announced, looking at her picture in disappointment. She wanted it to be finished before she went to sleep.
Her mother nodded in sympathy but gestured to the bed anyway. "You will be once you close your eyes. Up in bed and you'll get a story."
Grace weighed the options she really didn't have a choice in and dropped her crayons. Her mother pulled the sheet across her to tuck her in.
"Read the goblin one, mommy." Grace said. "I like the goblin one."
"You sure do like the goblin story." Her mother mused, shaking her head at how brave her little girl had turned out to be. "Aren't afraid of monsters?"
"Why should I? The one under the bed is my friend." Grace said.
Her mother raised an eye. "The monster under your bed, mm?" She leaned over to look under the edge. "I don't see anything." She stood, moving to the shelf of books.
Grace shrugged, not looking surprised. "Why would he be there all the time?"
Her mother laughed softly, picking up the book that was near the top of the book stack and bringing it back to the bed. She sat on the bed next to Grace and reclined. "The goblin book it is."
Grace smiled, pressing her cheek against her mothers are as she started to read.
"L ITTLE Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an'
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
Ef you Don't Watch Out!
Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,-
An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an'
An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:-
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you Don't Watch Out!
An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you Don't Watch Out!
An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,-
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you Don't Watch Out!"
Grace was smiling wide by the time her mother finished and thudded her head back onto her pillows.
"You keep that in mind, huh?" Her mother laughed softly, kissing her head. She replaced the book on the pile and made sure her nightlight was in place before turning the light off. "Night baby."
"Night mommy." Grace said, pulling the sheets up to her chin and closing her eyes. She kept still for a long few moments, listening for the door to click and her mother's footsteps to take her back down stairs.
She tossed the sheet away and climbed out of bed, her feet padding quietly against the carpet. Without needing to check she picked up the book from the top of the pile and sat on the floor next to her nightlight. The goblin story was one of her favorites and had been for as long as she could remember. She flipped the pages of the story and examined the pictures carefully. She'd done it time and time before and decided that even though she liked the pictures, they weren't anything like real goblins.
Real goblins could look a lot of different ways. Why shouldn't they? People looked different.
She pointed to the words she knew but knew the story by heart. It wasn't that hard when she had it read to her so often.
Grace looked up without a bit of fear when she heard a rumble. It started off quiet and grew and grew like a cat's purr. A small thud accompanied the sound and she waited.
Eyes glowed from under her bed and blinked at her. The eyes were gold and larger then hers. They reflected the light of her night light and she could see the large white fangs that stuck out of his mouth every which way.
"Hi Bitsy." Grace smiled; she held a finger to her lips. "I'm s'posed to be asleep. We gotta be quiet, kay?"
There was a grunt and his head was the first thing to pop out. The front of his face was rounded almost like a mussel, almost. His fangs sparkled even in the small about of light but Grace decided long ago that that was how he smiled. His ears were large and pointed and his eyes sat further back on his face then a person's would.
He moved out from under the bed slowly, his body hunched over almost like a dog, almost. He sometimes moved on all fours and sometimes on his knees and palms. He had fingers and toes like a person but there were times when they bent in funny directions. His skin was like soft leather and his lower half was covered in a kilt of fur.
He crawled towards her, his long nails silenced by the carpet in her room. His hair was long and reached his tailbone. For whatever reason, it almost looked soft to the touch. He sometimes let her touch it too. He had a tail that was long and thin like a cats and it occasionally would thump against the floor. She wanted a tail too…
Grace had never seen him stand but she knew he'd be taller than her dad if he did. He was all leg and bent at the knees. She often thought how cramped he looked, almost curling himself up into a ball.
He was quiet, just as she asked and when he was right in front of her, he laid on his stomach and laid his head on his forearms.
"You know the goblin story?" she asked, laying on her stomach too and laying the book down between them. Bitsy stared at the page and snorted, but smiled at Grace when she gave him a funny look.
"Are you a Goblin, Bitsy?"
He rumbled again, swaying back and forth very slightly. He never once spoke and she didn't know if he could but he always came back to see her. He might have been a goblin, but then he might have been something else too.
"Oh well." She smiled at him. It didn't matter to her what he was. She told him the story from memory and used to pictures for parts she forgot. All the while the curious monster listened and stared at the book as intently as she did.
"I don't think I gotta worry about goblins." She explained to Bitsy. "That's why it's so funny. These kids were bad, but I guess their mommies didn't tell them about the goblins."
There was no truth or fake. Real or imaginary. Grace didn't need to be told goblins weren't real when she knew for a fact that they were. Bitsy was real too.
"You'd keep me safe from them too, right?" She reached out and was very gentle when she touched his hair. He squeezed his eyes shut and relaxed when the touch was light. He rumbled again, letting her pet him.
When her nightlight flickered once she stilled completely. With a pop the blub died and she was left in the dark, only a small bit of light shining in from her window. She breathed out shakily, feeling along the wall for her nightlight. She pushed the switch a couple times and unplugged it and plugged it back in and it still wouldn't come on.
She hiccupped a soft cry and sat perfectly still. She wasn't afraid of monsters, but she could see monsters. When it was dark she couldn't see anything. Tears swelled up in her eyes and fell down her cheek just before she felt a bump to her side.
Bitsy rumbled louder, having crawled up to her side. Being mindful of his claw he wrapped an arm around her and drew her closer to him. He swayed back and forth, rocking her until the tears had stopped.
When she tilted her head back to look up at him, his eyes still glowed brightly. They blinked worriedly down at her before he lifted her up completely. He staggered somewhat, not used to walking without using his hands and carried her back to her bed, setting her down as if she were fragile.
Bitsy opened the curtains until more light shined in and Grace stared up in awe. He was tall. Very tall. It was no wonder to her why he crawled. He looked twice as big when he stood and she couldn't figure out how he fit under her bed.
He moved back to the other side of the room, taking the nightlight out of the wall and staring at it while before coming back to the bed. He crouched to his knees and rested his chin on the edge to peer up at her.
"It's still so dark, Bitsy." Grace muttered, curling up in her sheet. "I don't like the dark."
He watched her in silence and seemed to understand. He ducked under the bed, his lower half sticking out. He came back out a few seconds later with a small lantern that glowed. It was made of silver and fabric of white and she couldn't see what was inside that made it glow so bright.
"It's so pretty…" She smiled, eyes gleaming happily at the light. Bitsy set it on the floor and reached out to touch her hair every bit as cautiously as she had done to him. Only he was wary of not only her, but his claws.
"Thanks Bitsy." She sniffed back the last of her tears and reached out to touch his leathery arm. He sat beside her and rumbled like a melody until she fell asleep. He watched her fondly and stretched out finally. It was hard work looking small and harmless.
He peered around the room, able to see just as clearly in the dark as he could in the light. His eyes landing on her tiny table, covered with colored papers and crayons. One picture stood out in particular. The one that was still covered with crayons.
He blinked, staring at the child's rendition of himself. He was curled up, lying on the floor the way he usually laid. His body was almost indecipherable but he could see she worked hard on his face. His ears and eyes in particular. She might not have put as much emphasis on his fangs, but his tail was there and his claws made his fingers look much longer than what they were.
Tenderness flooded him as he held up the paper.
He looked back at the little girl who was sound asleep and he sat on the floor by the table. He pulled out a sheet that hadn't yet been colored on and picked up the crayons fairly awkwardly in his hands. He set out drawing a picture of her in return and by the time he was finished it looked like another piece done by the five year old but he was overly pleased with the way it turned out.
He laid it out proudly on the table next to hers, and decided it was time for him to return home as well.
"C'mon baby girl! Rise in shine!" Her mother said, after opening the door and startling her awake the following morning. "Breakfast is in ten."
Grace sighed, pressing her face into her pillow. She didn't want food, she wanted more sleep. She laid there, working to pry her eyes open. It was by far the hardest part of the day. She yawned, sitting up in and nearly knocking the lantern over with her foot.
She inhaled quickly, surprised to find it there still.
Her little silver and white lantern sat on the floor between her bed and the wall. It didn't glow anymore but it had still been left for her all night. She felt a grin break out across her face.
Climbing out of bed she found the goblin book back on the stack of books and her nightlight had been replaced. Only now when she clicked the button and the light came right on.
She giggled. "He fixed it." She had no trouble at all believing that. She saw him take it and now it was there and working.
Grace looked through her dresser for a moment and got dressed. Gathering up her crayons to take to breakfast with her she stopped when she saw the picture that had been left for her. She laughed, looking at the picture and the pajama's she'd left on the floor. He got them just right.
"C'mon Grace!" her mother called from the bottom of the stares.
"Coming!" She yelled back, walking over to her bed and getting down to look under it. There was nothing there, but she didn't expect there to be. "Thank you Bitsy." She smiled. Getting back to her feet she left the door open as she went downstairs.
Thanks for reading. ^_^
If anyone else had a mom or a nana that read them the Goblin poem when they were little, then you might have had something under your bed too.
Disclaimer: LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE- by: James Whitcomb Riley