“The real world is where the monsters are.” – Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief
By Dawn Onley
A few times a week, my son and I have a ritual.
He’ll point outside his bedroom window at the dark sky and say:
“Mommy, there’s monsters out there.”
I’ll reassure him that there are no monsters outside.
“Monsters don’t exist,” I’ll say.
“Monsters don’t exist?” he’ll confirm.
“No, monsters don’t exist. They aren’t real.”
This is normally enough to convince him, and before long, he is off to sleep.
I’m dreading the day when I have to tell him that they do. Monsters do exist.
Not zombies or werewolves. Not the monsters with the gory, bulging heads and the three eyes depicted in scary movies. Not the bloodsucking vampires, dressed in black capes, who wait underneath the bed or in the closet for the perfect moment to attack. They are scary to watch on the TV, but oftentimes, they die in the end.
I’m talking about the real-life monsters, who live. The demons out there in the dark of night and the dawn of day – and every hour in between — who say and do the most atrocious things. Monsters who diligently plan and carry out their dastardly deeds. Monsters who shoot up a school, a movie theater, or a military base. Monsters who decapitate people in the name of religion or who blow themselves up in the middle of a marketplace or a hotel lobby, taking innocent bystanders along with them.
Monsters who prey on the innocence of children or the frailty of the elderly.
Cowardly monsters who use their physical advantage to assault women.
Monsters who hung innocent people from trees because of the color of their skin.
Throughout the history of civilization, monsters have existed.
Someday, dreadfully, I’ll have to prepare my son. Monsters do exist.