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Good Little Girls

My mommy tells me a story.
She says there can't be a monster in my closet, because monsters only hide in the closet of bad little girls. They can smell the bad things you do or think of doing or want to do, and it draws them in. Good little girls whose mommies and daddies love them don't get monsters. So I can't have a monster in my closet, can I? The end.
My stepdaddy tells me a story.
He says that if kids don't do what their mommies and daddies say, mommies and daddies can throw them in the closet and feed them to the monsters. There are monsters in the world because there are children who deserve monsters. There are bad little girls who deserve to be locked away and eaten all up until there is nothing left. Monsters love bad little girls. Parents don't. The end.
My big brother tells me a story.
He says he used to be the middle child. He says we used to have a big sister. But she was bad. She did things our mommy and stepdaddy didn't like. She wore bad clothes and said bad words. They would throw her in the closet and not let her out until she begged and cried, until she promised to be good. But she never was. And then one time she didn't beg. She yelled through the closet door that THEY were bad, that she was going to tell everyone, the neighbors, the teachers, the police. And she never promised to be good, so they never let her out. But then she stopped yelling, and when they opened the door to look, she wasn't there. Now she's a monster haunting the closets and the beds and the walls. Now she's waiting to grab us up and drag us away. So I better watch out. The end.
My big sister tells me a story.
My big sister tells me a lot of stories.
She says she learned to love the closet. That she was safe in there, from them, for a little while, only a little while. That they told her she was a bad little girl and told her she was a monster and they locked her away and they hurt her and they hurt her.
But it hurt less than being a good little girl.
I want to tell you a story.
About how easy it is to pretend to be a good little girl, when you know it's just pretend. When you know there's a place where no one can touch you until you let them let you out. When you know you can forget what your body looks like, in the dark, until you can make it look like anything. Everything they can't see. When you're learning to slide between the shadows and turn your smiles into lots and lots of sharp shiny teeth.
It's a story with a happy ending.
Well, not for everybody. And not yet. Soon. Soon.
Soon we will tell them a story.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, December 15th, 2016

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