Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Girl Under The Bed

I know this girl. She lives next to me in a ramshackle house where the front door doesn’t fit in the doorway and the floorboards are full of holes where nails should be and the last time they tried to mow the lawn the grass was so thick and long that it jammed the mower blades. Sometimes I play at her place. She is a total tomboy. We play-fight in the backyard and hide and seek and pretend to be adults. Sometimes she stays over at my house. She likes to sleep under my bed. We never tell my parents.

            One night when the stars are all shining and the moon is fat and heavy in the sky, she appears at my window.

            What are you doing?

            Nothing, I say.

You can’t be doing nothing. That’s impossible.

Then I was daydreaming. Daydreaming about the moon.

Where do you think the moon goes during the day?

I think it lies on the ground somewhere, and it gets ready for the next night.

Do you think people fix it?

I don’t know. I don’t think so. It’s full of holes.

I’ve built a rocket ship, she says. It’s in the backyard. Do you want to find out where the moon goes?


She disappears from the window and I follow her down the lattice where the vines grow thick and twisty and across the lawn and then through the gap in the fence that dad is always complaining about at dinner. Her garden is lit up in the moonlight. She takes my hand and her skin is soft and damp and she pulls me into the grass that grows high over our heads and the stars dance between the blades and I can’t see where I’m going but follow her tugging on my hand and everything around me is dark and the dark pulls away into more dark and then we come out at a clearing where the clothesline hangs overhead.

There, she says. And under the moonlight is a spaceship, just like the ones off TV. I follow her inside, to a room where the walls are buttons and the floor is sloped and through the windscreen all I can see is sky.

Do you know how to fly it?

Of course I do, she says. With her back to me she taps at buttons with both hands and the spaceship lurches.

Hold onto something, she says and then the machine jolts and sputters and we are flying high above the grass, then the estate and the city and the country, but I can’t see them because we are pointed straight at the moon.

Do you think it is made of cheese? I ask her. And do you think there is a man in there? What do you think he will say when he sees us? Do you think he’ll be nice? Like that man who hangs around out the front of the milk bar?

I don’t know, she says. We’ll find out.

The spaceship is slowing now that we are getting close. I can feel the smile on my face pulling back my cheeks and I am almost laughing and my hands just keep moving but I can’t stop them. I think about my family, asleep at home, with no idea what I am doing now. I can’t wait to tell them in the morning.

We’re here, she says. She taps at some buttons and the spaceship stops sputtering and the door opens and the whole wide moon is there before me.

But there is something not right as I walk out onto the ground.

There is no cheese here, I say. And there is no man, there’s no-one at all. And I can’t walk, I’m floating.

What are you talking about? She says.

And the moon can’t rest on the ground because the world is round.

No, it’s not!

And it can’t go anywhere at night because it is always night up here!

Please, she cries. Just stop it. Stop saying these things. And she is crying and I feel like crying too.

And your space ship is just a cardboard box!

And then suddenly I realise I am upside down and I fall out of the sky and I am falling into nothing, looking up as she looks down.

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