So this one kind of came out of nowhere. I was flipping through the prompts as usual, and I guess I was in a sentimental mood. As soon as I read this one, an image popped into my head and I couldn’t get it out.
I hope you like this installment, and I’m so interested to see what direction you run with this idea.
Disclaimer: As always, I do not take credit for the writing prompt featured today. This project is about taking an outside idea and seeing what my imagination does with it.
THE GIRL BENEATH THE BED
By Kimberley Imrie
Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful girl who could only touch the dark.
A single ray of light would wither her sunken cheeks and dry her scraggly hair. It filled her beetle-bright eyes and blinded her, making her retreat further into her dark sanctuary.
So, she hid. She made her home beneath a small bed, curled with her head on a shoebox during the oppressive day, delving into the darkness’ secrets during the night. Whenever the flashlight shone beneath the bed, she retreated to the side table, hunching as she hid, until she was free to stretch out once more.
When she first found her new home, she thought it was perfect. Cozy, warm, plenty of dust to soften the ground. Then, as the sun went down and she prepared for her nighttime adventure, the little orange lights burst to life, casting pools of illumination across the floor and turning her snug house into a prison.
That first night, her claws scratching the floor as she paced by the edges of the bed, she saw him for the first time.
Narrow white fingers curled around the closet door, snatched back into shadow as they found the cursed orange light. They came again, more tentative, followed by gleaming yellow eyes peering through the crack, widening as they met hers. After a moment of electric shock, they both retreated into their darkness and their thoughts.
The next night, she crouched at her shelter’s edge, as close as she could risk coming to the light, her gaze fixed on that spot where the closet just wouldn’t stay closed. It didn’t take long for yellow eyes to appear once more, long white fingers clutching the door. This time they didn’t pull back. His gaze met hers and his fingers danced as he drew himself as close to the edge as the light permitted. They stared at each other for a time, shining dark eyes meeting glimmering yellow ones, unspoken questions and answers passing back and forth. Yes, I see you. Yes, I’m stuck too. No, I don’t know how to help.
She clicked her long nails on the ground, drumming her fingers in a hanging trill. He scratched the closet door in response, long and slow, the hinges creaking from the slight movement. A thrill surged through her at the sound. For the first time since her eyes opened to her peaceful darkness, she made a connection.
Nights turned to weeks. Their clicks and scratches and creaks became a language in the dark. He arrived not long before she did, she found out, attracted by the quiet room and comfortable nook. Just like her, he realized quickly that he was trapped. Sunlight formed their cages during the day, the awful orange light at night. There was no reprieve.
Weeks turned into months. They learned each other, conversing through their stolen hours, separated by an impassable chasm. Some nights they didn’t need to talk. Their eyes met when the sun fell and they lingered in comfortable company, locked in their private cells. Other nights there was too much to share and not enough hours to share it in, the night filled with their scratches and bumps and rattles. With him there, her confinement wasn’t so bad. She was almost… happy.
One night, there was a storm. Branches whipped against the window, almost drowning out their talk. Almost. Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled. She retreated further beneath the bed. Storms were dangerous. Lightning was unpredictable, and as much as she wanted to go dance amidst the clouds, one unexpected strike of illumination could be the end.
But that night, as the wind screeched and the trees hammered the house, something else happened. A great burst of fire and sparks outside the window sent her shivering to the nook beneath the side table. But then, their prison of orange light flickered and died.
She held her breath. She stared until the storm died and silence fell once more. But the orange light didn’t return.
He was the first to break their vigil. The closet door creaked open, slowly and with a delicious rasp from the old hinges. Floorboards shivered with a rhythmic groan.
The night stood still as she crept from her cage. Her claws clicked on the floor as she slithered forward, poised to skid back into her protective cell in a heartbeat.
He waited for her in the middle of the room, at once hesitant and respectful, letting her take her time in the approach.
The dark remained unbroken, the quiet heavy with his rattled breath. For this moment, in the calm after the storm, the serene solace from their captivity, they were free.
He extended his pale hand, long and emaciated. Her claws wrapped his touch, their fingers twining together for the first time.
This one was really fun to write. I might not have followed the prompting exactly, but it was a launching point for a vision, which is the point, after all.
I’ve always loved the idea of monsters under the bed, and the depths of imagination that give birth to them. When I was young, I had a monster in my closet with a face like a pig, and my daughter now sees menacing eyes gleaming from the closet doorknobs. Not gonna lie, there might be more monster under the bed themed writing in the future.
Shadows are a place where imagination thrives—though not always with sunshine and puppies. Sometimes we need to explore that darkness for the richness it can offer.
And other times, we hope the monsters stay right where they are.