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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Girl He Brought Home"

This poem came out of the October 18, 2011 bonus fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from rix_scaedu and eseme.  It was sponsored by rix_scaedu.  "The Girl He Brought Home" belongs to the Monster House series and comes after "Not Mine."  You can find other poems in this series via the Serial Poetry page.


The Girl He Brought Home


When our son was seven,
he brought home a girl for the first time.
Her name was Melinda,
and they had a class project together.

She didn't say anything,
but she looked vaguely familiar.
"Does she live around here?"
I asked.

"She used to, I think,"
he said with a shrug.
"Now she lives with her grandmother
since her parents died when she was little."

Just then the bogeyman walked in,
not realizing that we had a guest.
He took one look at her and froze.

"Mister!" said Melinda.
She wrapped her arms around his legs.
Slowly he lifted a hand
to stroke the smooth black hair
that fell to her waist.

I remembered the toddler
that the bogeyman had brought here
several years ago.  "I thought
you only worked with bad boys and girls,"
I said to him.

"Well," the bogeyman muttered,
"I might have checked up on her
once or twice..."

"... a year," added the lurking shadow
in a stage whisper.

Melinda hid a smile
as she pressed herself
against the bogeyman's side.
"She doesn't talk much,"
our son said.

"Oh, you have a snake!"
Melinda said, and scampered over
to make cute hissy noises at the radiator dragon.

"Except to reptiles,"
our son added.  "She talks to
the teacher's pet boa constrictor."

"That's nice," I said to him,
watching Melinda lean over the radiator.

"So can we go work on our project now?"
he asked.  I nodded,
and they headed up the stairs
toward the library room.

The bogeyman stared after them
with a forlorn look on his face.
"Don't worry," I said
as I patted him on the shoulder.
"I get the feeling
that we'll be seeing more of her."

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22 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: January 5th, 2012 06:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
*grin*

Goood bogeyman!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 5th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

He can be fierce at need, but underneath, I think he has a heart of solid chocolate.

I'm glad you liked this poem.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: January 5th, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Indeed. I expect that "security blanket" is not in his usual job description. :)

One of the things I'd wondered about Melinda was whether she'd grow up a "normal" magic-oblivious human, or whether she'd turn out to be "family", as the daughter of the house described one of her friends. Answered! I do increasingly wonder, though, whether there is actually a substantial number of "normal" humans, or mostly an awful lot of people who don't talk to each other about the things they think are too weird for other people to believe.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2012 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>Indeed. I expect that "security blanket" is not in his usual job description.<<

True. His usual job is all about being scary -- banging on pipes, eating the bad boys and girls, being one of the things that go bump in the night. That's part of his nature, the way the wolf is part of the woods. But he's a person, and he has free will. Although there are some constraints he can't or won't break, he can usually manage to ensure that justice gets done.

At home, he can let down his guard some and be himself, show the gentler side. Sometimes, though, somebody succeeds in pulling that out when he wasn't intending to show it. *chuckle* I bet that girl had him wrapped around her little finger before he was out the door of her parents' house.

>>One of the things I'd wondered about Melinda was whether she'd grow up a "normal" magic-oblivious human, or whether she'd turn out to be "family", as the daughter of the house described one of her friends. <<

Her affinity for reptiles seems to be innate, along with her ability to see through the glamour that usually protects many of the mystical beings from human notice. A vivid encounter can easily cement that into permanent interaction with the shadow world.

>>I do increasingly wonder, though, whether there is actually a substantial number of "normal" humans, or mostly an awful lot of people who don't talk to each other about the things they think are too weird for other people to believe.<<

Likely so. It's kind of a spectrum: those who WILL not notice regardless of what goes on around them, those who catch a glimpse now and then but dismiss it, those who glimpse and wonder but may or may not talk about it, those who encounter the mysterious and follow it, and those who grow up with it. The two realms interpenetrate, but not everyone has (or wants) access to both. There are people who can live their whole lives and never meet anything out of the ordinary because it's just not in their reality, people who have the potential for both and can choose, people who would never find it on their own but can notice it if they go somewhere more active, and so forth.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: January 7th, 2012 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I bet that girl had him wrapped around her little finger before he was out the door of her parents' house.

I would not be surprised if the kids at Monster House were the first human ones to whom he was a friendly figure rather than a scary monster. (But really, I know ~nothing about his existance before moving in with the narrator, so that may be way off-base.) Being a bit of a marshmallow about a kid who needs you is ... well, it's pretty reasonable for a human. (Where do bogeymen come from?)

It's kind of a spectrum

Aye, but what does that curve look like?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 7th, 2012 07:12 am (UTC) (Link)

O_O

>>Where do bogeymen come from?<<

He said: "I was born human. My mother threw me in a dustbin right after I was born. I was found and nursed by a night mare, and this is what I became."

Well. I had no idea. There could be different origins for other bogeymen, or it could be consistent, or even some of each. Monsters do run to variety, though.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: January 7th, 2012 10:25 am (UTC) (Link)

O_o

Is that ... what his foster-mother expected or intended?

If the bogeyman has more to say about his life before he met the narrator, I would be most curious.

Does he have/use/want a name? None of the characters in the main family of the series are mentioned by name that I can think of, where various others are. (I suspect reference by relationship is easier for new readers.) I've been assuming that the humans have mundane names, and I imagine the little old lady ghost does, though the family might not know it, but I've no idea about the nonhumans.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 7th, 2012 11:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: O_o

>>Is that ... what his foster-mother expected or intended?<<

I don't know for sure. It seems that contact with the mystical expands a person's opportunities. I doubt that there is a predetermined path, but there are likely to be strong possibilities. Major events change people, and close contact with the mystical can make those changes more dramatic. So it was likely that he would change and no longer be ordinary. The form it took for him was probably a combination of his foster-mother's influence, his personal experience, and his innate personality.

>>If the bogeyman has more to say about his life before he met the narrator, I would be most curious.<<

Me too. Maybe it will pop up in some fishbowl, or elsewhen.

>>Does he have/use/want a name?<<

Not that I know of so far. For some reason, many of the characters in this series just don't seem to use names much. I think it gives them kind of an 'everyone' vibe. It's interesting because characters are usually forthcoming with their names when I write about them; it's often the first thing I get. When they don't, and it's in a cluster like this, I tend to respect that.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 7th, 2012 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>I would not be surprised if the kids at Monster House were the first human ones to whom he was a friendly figure rather than a scary monster.<<

It could be. Then again, he might have had another household prior to finding the narrator.

>> (But really, I know ~nothing about his existance before moving in with the narrator, so that may be way off-base.) <<

He hasn't been greatly talkative with me either, thus far.

>>Being a bit of a marshmallow about a kid who needs you is ... well, it's pretty reasonable for a human. <<

True.

*ponder* Looking at the poems so far, the monsters mostly seem pretty contextual: they are gentle and friendly with people they know, either gentle or invisible to people who are decent or haven't bothered them, but can be anywhere from pesky to vicious with people who annoy or threaten them.

>>Aye, but what does that curve look like?<<

I suspect a bell curve, though possibly a squashed one here or there. The "will not see" end may be higher than a regular bell end, for instance.
ladymondegreen From: ladymondegreen Date: January 5th, 2012 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! I was wondering when we'd see the baby girl again. I'm glad she grew up into someone who can be comfortable around animals and monsters. Hopefully people will be next.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 5th, 2012 07:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>Yay! I was wondering when we'd see the baby girl again.<<

I'm happy that you like this poem.

>> I'm glad she grew up into someone who can be comfortable around animals and monsters. Hopefully people will be next.<<

I think she is naturally a quiet person with an introverted personality. Add her rotten parents to that, and it's made her downright shy. But she does have a few friends, and her grandmother. She probably just picks her friends from people who don't constantly pester her to "participate."
From: minor_architect Date: January 5th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I find the bogeyman particularly charming for someone who...eats?...people for a living. >;)

And Melinda hissing at the radiator dragon really cracked me up. I can only guess that the dragon was bemused by all the noise!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2012 01:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>>I find the bogeyman particularly charming for someone who...eats?...people for a living.<<

Fierce people can be unexpectedly gentle, and vice versa. What makes a monster is not how you look, or even the maximum level of mayhem you've caused, but how you choose to behave with people who are no threat to you.

>>And Melinda hissing at the radiator dragon really cracked me up. I can only guess that the dragon was bemused by all the noise!<<

Yay! I think the radiator dragon has gotten somewhat more gregarious over the years. He may still hide if he's startled, but he's also willing to come out and beg for food. And it's not like this is a quiet household. There's always something going on.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: January 5th, 2012 11:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
For some reason, possibly the hissy noises and the talking to the boa constrictor, I'm imagining Merope Gaunt being rescued from her father and brother as a toddler, and Voldemort never getting born. :-)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2012 01:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Aww...

I just LOVE that image!

Yeah, little Tom would've had a much healthier development as a member of the Monster House family.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: January 6th, 2012 01:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Aww...

Yeah, little Tom would've had a much healthier development as a member of the Monster House family.

Uh... I think I'll disagree with you on that point. I've read the Harry Potter books so many times, I have so much trivia about it memorized... remember, Tom Riddle was a very quiet baby. I don't remember all the words exactly, but basically Tom Riddle was born evil. Maybe he wouldn't have been *as* evil raised by his mother in the monster house neighborhood, but I think he would have been evil anyway. I prefer to imagine a Merope who never met Tom Riddle Senior.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2012 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Aww...

Well, you're entitled to your interpretation.

I think that Voldemort was a combination of nature and nurture -- he had a dark potential, but then so did Harry, and frankly Wizarding Britain was insanely lucky that Harry didn't tell them to sod the hell off after what they did to him. Tom became Voldemort when he decided to hit back, and went too far with it. That's the seduction of the dark side, after all.

I see a lot of parallels between Tom Riddle and Anakin Skywalker, Voldemort and Darth Vader.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: January 6th, 2012 01:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Aww...

Further, Voldemort's birth was dependent on so many factors turning out a certain way that you change any one of them and the odds of him being born drop. I could go into details about the more minor ones, but rescuing Merope from her father and brother while she was still a toddler, especially if she's taken away from Little Hangleton, basically make the odds of her meeting and falling in love with Voldemort's father vanishingly small.

Okay, you have an excellent point about Harry. It did always seem a little peculiar to me that he turned out to be such a good kid. I'm currently reading a comic series with a character named Courtney Crumrin, and personally she's got a more realistic response to - in her case - neglect than Harry ought to have had to the abuse he suffered.

Heh, that would make an interesting fanfic: Harry Potter either ignores Voldemort or joins him.

For some reason, I'm reminded of a crossover fanfic (unfinished) that someone wrote and posted to the net, wherein Petunia doesn't take Harry, and instead Harry ends up with relatives in America. A family with the surname Addams... :-D

I see a lot of parallels between Tom Riddle and Anakin Skywalker, Voldemort and Darth Vader.

I'm not seeing it. Anakin started out a good kid and went evil. Voldemort, according to the stories the person running the orphanage told Dumbledore, was evil from the start. I suppose it's possible he could have turned out okay, in the right circumstances, but I don't think it's very probable.

Tom became Voldemort when he decided to hit back

Riddle became Voldemort because other human beings were playthings at best to him, obstacles at worst. Whoever he couldn't manipulate, he disposed of. He was a predator, a serial killer with magic and a desire for power. I think the best that could have been hoped for concerning Riddle was for him to become someone like the elder Malfoy. Granted, not all psychopaths become serial killers; it takes special circumstances to turn a psychopath into a serial killer. But I think the seriously fucked-up genetics of his Gaunt relatives (a whole line of criminally insane males, that lot) was more than enough to ensure that Tom Marvolo Riddle was never going to be good. Less evil than he was, perhaps, but I think he had a nitrogen snowball's chance on Venus of being good.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: January 6th, 2012 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)

PS

Forgot to mention, Voldemort's father was under the influence of a love spell when Voldy was sired, which also bade ill. Tom Riddle Senior never loved Merope. And she was so desperate to be loved that she didn't care if she had to get it using magic. Then, later, for some reason she released Voldy's father from the enchantment, and he quite understandably bolted home.
aubergine_pilot From: aubergine_pilot Date: September 21st, 2012 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
This Bogeyman is such an adorable softie. And this makes the hurt of the two poems directly linked to it just the right amount of less raw, knowing she's got a good grandmother and the scariest "guardian angel" ever.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 22nd, 2012 01:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>> This Bogeyman is such an adorable softie. <<

Sharp and scary outside, with a heart of solid chocolate.

>> And this makes the hurt of the two poems directly linked to it just the right amount of less raw, knowing she's got a good grandmother and the scariest "guardian angel" ever. <<

Sometimes bad things happen, and they can't be fixed, but they can be dealt with in a way that lets people move on.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: May 2nd, 2018 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Parseltongue!
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