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Monsters and Little Girls
Adam Windsor

Drusilla keeps a candle on her window-sill. She has done, ever since she was a little girl, and her Mummy (for she has only one of those) told her that it would keep the monsters away at night.

Monsters have always frightened her. Lurking in shadows and hiding under beds, running their fingers in her hair when she lies trembling in her bed, pretending to be asleep.

Grandmama hated the candle. But then Grandmama hates so many things. Under that soft white skin and breathless smile, she seethes with all the passions of darkness. Dark as Drusilla's hair; blood red as her painted lips.

"For God's sake, Dru." The remembered voice is like vinegar; for all that the face is milk and honey. "Get rid of that candle. You're a demon. The darkness doesn't scare you. And you'll kill us both, if a fire starts."

"Miss Edith says -"

"Miss Edith is a *doll*, Drusilla. She doesn't *say* anything." Grandmama's voice cracked as it rose. Drusilla flinches even at the memory, knowing what happens to bad girls who upset their Grandmama.

Closets are very dark. And the spiders live in there.

So Drusilla took down the candle, and put in her little box, with her shells and her pretty things and all the tiny bottles that smell so sweet. And she trembled as she lay down and pretended to sleep, and the monsters ran their fingers through her hair.

But now Grandmama is gone, and Drusilla is alone. Her family is broken, again. Grandmama has vanished, the Angel-Beast has Daddy. Even her beautiful boy is lost to her. His eyes are filled with the nasty Slayer. There's no-one for her any more.

Drusilla pauses for moment to listen, then nods solemnly,

"Yes, Miss Edith. I still have you."

Miss Edith will never leave her. She knows that. Of course she does. It's just something that she had forgotten, for a moment. It's so hard to remember things when she is scared.

Drusilla rises and walks to her little box, which she keeps on a shelf with the beautiful china tea set that Miss Edith chose in Prague.

They both loved Prague.

"I'm getting the candle." She explains, when the question is asked.

"I know Grandmama doesn't like it. But she isn't here. She left us, she did. Nasty Grandmama, smelling of the Angel-Beast. Running away and taking all the pretty new clothes."

Drusilla pauses, not quite opening the box.

"But there are monsters -"

Her fingers draw away from the box, then clutch it tightly, again.

"I will not!" Drusilla declares fiercely, glaring at Miss Edith. She throws the box against the wall. "They left us! I can do what I like!"

She throws herself on the bed, tearing at the sheets and ripping the pillows. She hates them all. Hates dark and golden Grandmama. Hates the Daddy-Angel-Beast. Hates her fallen Prince and his new Slayer Queen.

"I even hate *you*!" she spits the words at Miss Edith, hurling the doll - and it is just a doll, isn't it; always has been, always will be - across the room.

Drusilla slumps to her knees, gasping air she doesn't need. She stays that way for a long while.

Then she rises, and silently tidies her room, making sure the corners of the new sheets are as perfect as Mummy requires. Afterward, she puts Miss Edith back on the bed and makes her apologies very prettily, for she is most of the time a good girl, she really is.

Drusilla nods at Miss Edith's reply and sits herself on the edge of the bed, primly folding her hands in her lap. She has been a bad girl, and she must take her medicine.

Grandmama will come back. Miss Edith has told her so. All Drusilla has to do is wait like a good girl, and her family will be together again.

Dru. Enraged. Candle.

Man! challenge in a can Man!