It was a warm and windy night. I left my window open and the breeze blew back my thin curtains. Did I stir because of the noises they made moving along the sideboards? Possibly. The weights located in the hem of the curtains might have bounced against the wall with a thud.
Who am I kidding? Blame it on my curtains and the wind, but really it was the dream. Or, should I say, the nightmare. The same one I have had every night for weeks. I merely woke myself up before it got worse. I knew what was coming, yelling out, “Go away! Go away now!”
I glanced over at the clock, 12:07, and sighed. Am I doomed to be up all night and draggy at school tomorrow? Normally, I am out like a rock on Sunday nights having run myself silly all weekend, but things were starting to change. Why not this, too?
Settling back into bed, I heard my name being called out ever so gently, Conor.
Was it mom? She had started her third set of treatments. Did she need my help? Conor.
There it was again, but it sounded like it came from the window. Was it those darn curtains? Conor!
That was not mom nor the curtains. In two whole steps, I was away from the bed and looking out the window. No one below and no one in the surrounding field, I looked up at the church on the hill.
Silhouetted by flickering moonbeams, the scene looked unreal. The cemetery with its tumbled headstones were like misshaped teeth in an old woman’s mouth. The lone yew tree swayed with the wind as it whipped around the trunk picking up the lower branches like a twirling skirt.
Then I saw it. Staring into the yew, filled with poisonous berries, I saw a face staring back at me. The tree gathered its limbs and in a burst threw them out into the shapes of arms. The trunk, stretching towards the moon, made a cracking noise as it split at the base and the roots began to upend earth. It was moving and towards me!
I am 13-years-old. Too old to believe in monsters, but that is all this yew could be.
“A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness is the perfect read-aloud for children ages eight and older. Do you have the grandchildren for the weekend? It will take three to five readings to finish. Picture a windy night with the moon ducking in and out of the clouds and you reading to everyone by the flickering campfire. Ah, the joys of summer.