Annie was a good girl who did wicked things.
She teased her baby sister when no one watched.
She stole the peanut brittle and hid it under her pillow. Nightmares and a tummy ache made her confess to that one. She did not need a horrible witch, like the one from Hansel and Gretel, coming for her.
Annie had enough worries for one nine-year old girl, thank you very much.
She blamed it on the Goblin.
He was worse than the witch, and he visited her night after night.
He smiled his smile full of pointed teeth and snorted from his green snout. When Annie would sneak peeks at him in the long nights, he would cross his arms and sneer. He didn’t speak, but Annie always knew why he came for her.
She never saw him in the daylight hours, but he knew every wicked thing she did. He had a list, and it grew longer every night. This made her tremble, and one night she wet the bed.
That night was the worst. She called out for her mother, who scolded her and said things like, “You’re a big girl now, Annie. There’s nothing there. It’s only shadows.” But once she turned the lights back off, Annie screamed and cried.
Mrs. James took pity on her oldest daughter, and nestled in bed with her. She promptly fell asleep.
Annie opened one eye, and there he was. “Mom, look, there he is.”
But when her mother turned to her, Annie could not see her face. She spoke, but her words were garbled, like she talked over a mouthful of food. Her mother never talked with her mouth full.
The goblin only leered at her, and Annie knew he was her secret, and she could never tell her secret to anyone, or he would hurt them.
Annie choked back her sobs, and willed that very long night to end.
To her great relief, her mother woke up with her face back on in the morning. Annie told her mother she looked very beautiful and hugged her hard. She meant every word she said.
But as hard as she tried, she always wound up in trouble. Even for the accidents, like dropping her baby sister on her head, or when she not on purpose flushed her Barbie’s head down the toilet. Annie always wanted to see what would happen next. Her father explained it was cause and effect.
Annie believed she understood this theory very well. Her bad deeds were the cause and the Goblin was the effect.
Each time she broke a rule, the goblin knew.
His list grew so long it curled and unfurled around him. It made Annie’s heart sink. She came to fear the list more than she did the goblin.
One night, she decided to be brave. She thought her father brave, so she pretended to be him. She stood up from the bed, and knelt in front of him. He was very short, and it felt rude to tower over him like a grown up. After all, he was the goblin with the list of all her wickedness, and she was only a little girl.
“What are you going to do with that list, Goblin?” She said in her deepest voice.
The goblin did not answer, he tapped his helmet with his spear and shook the list so it hissed and rattled like a hungry snake.
Annie knew she would have to do her best to be good, and wait.
And she had an idea, which became a theory. She did not like to be a scared little girl, who ducked under the covers at night and wet the bed once or twice because the goblin looked as though he would like to eat her. From this theory, she formed a plan.
The next day she did not break a single rule, and did not pinch her sister, not even once.
She went to bed with a smile and hugged herself tight. When her father shut the door, and forgot to turn on the night-light, she did not complain. The goblin did not pay her a visit that night, or the next.
But Annie did not know how long she could keep up being good. She discovered that being good bored her near to tears, and she had big plans that did not include goblins with red eyes who wore funny hats.
The list was the worst. That dreadful, dreary, devilish list, she hated it so, and never wanted to see it again. She knew the Goblin would leave it just where her parents would find it. Really, she loved her beautiful mother and her brave father, but they did not have to know everything:
Each pinch and each poke
The things that she broke
Every little lie
And the time she threw the cat from the window
Just to watch him fly.
She thought the cat had been a good lesson. They do not always land on their feet, sometimes they land on their heads.
After a long week of being good, Annie woke up ornery, cantankerous, and foul. She decided she had enough. Today was the day to do what she did best. The Goblin would come tonight, and she knew just what to do with him.
Annie started the day by knocking the baby’s milk across the table and ended it by feeding crayons to the dog. When the dog yarked green and purple on the rug, her parents sighed and put her to bed.
She went to bed feeling a little sorry for her mother. It had been a long and busy day. But she went to bed with a smile on her face.
The Goblin did not stand in the corner, as it had other nights. It came right up to her bed, the list trailing and slithering around his clubbed feet. Annie felt no fear, she had a theory.
When the Goblin shoved the list in her face, Annie opened her mouth and took a big bite. It was the most delicious thing she had ever tasted. The goblin stared, his mouth hung in an o, and green drool glimmered on his pointed teeth. But he didn’t fight her, so Annie chewed and swallowed the entire list.
Cotton candy. Apple pie a la mode. Chocolate cake.
When she was done, she covered a burp with her hand and congratulated herself on being lady like.
The goblin yelled, stomped his club feet, and threw a tantrum better than her very worst. She could not understand a word.
“I’m bigger than you.” She stood up and grabbed the goblin, which shook and shivered with fear.
Annie wanted to know what he tasted like.
He tasted better than he smelled, like green apples ripe with sunshine.
She wiped her mouth with the sleeve of her nightgown and tucked herself back into bed. The little girl decided the best feeling in the world was not being afraid anymore.
The next morning, she woke up with a belly ache that did not go away for days. But she did not complain and thanked her mother for taking care of her. When her mother left, she checked under her bed for her new treasures.
Annie picked up the goblin’s felt hat and pointed shoes, not a trace of the goblin to be found on them. She put the cap on her head, and went to her mirror. Though her belly hurt and her mouth felt sweet and sticky like a jelly bean, she was satisfied.
Annie was a wicked girl, who wanted to be good.
What monsters hid under your bed or in your corners as a child?