BOOKS ....... FREE STORIES ....... TALES OF TAM YS ....... ARCHIVE ....... EDITING ....... SARAH

The Woman With a Monster on Her Back

Once there was a woman who woke with a monster on her back. A heavy, clammy monster whose claws dug into her skin and teeth chewed on her hair. She tried to fight it off. She tried to shake it off. She tried and tried but the monster held fast, unrelenting. It breathed bad memories into her ear. It weighed her down so she could barely climb out of bed.

For weeks, the woman limped through her life with this monster on her back. No one else could see it, although she was asked once or twice if she was feeling quite all right. She only smiled. What could she say? I am monster-plagued. No one believed in monsters. Or if they did, they would say, just shrug it off. Pretend it isn't there. The woman had tried these solutions along with everything else, so she said nothing, and suffered.

One day, she could not bear another moment sitting hunched on her sofa, listening to the monster breathe. So she went to the local public garden. The sunshine felt nice on her face. The flowers smelled sweet. She could not forget the monster, but she could look at what was infront of her and enjoy it at least. She sat on the grass gathering daisies, and wove them into a chained crown like she used to do when she was a child.

Then she set the crown on the monster's head.

Its breath shook, as if it was startled. The woman went home and slept. But the next day she took herself and her monster to a teahouse, and ordered her favourite cake. She left a piece for the monster. It made a strange noise behind its teeth. The woman took the long way home and slept. And the next day she went to the beach. She brought out an old poetry book and read poems to the monster, and then danced with it along the beach. The monster wept.

It wept. And as the woman whispered soothing words, it crept around to curl in her lap, hugging her tight with fear and grief.

The woman wept along with the monster. They shared a sorrow. They shared a heartbeat. After a long while, the woman carried the monster home and fed it ice cream. She wrapped it in a blanket with her, and together they watched a favourite movie.

If you met the woman a year later, you would be enchanted by her smile. Such an authentic smile, reflected in her eyes. She stood tall, although her shadow seemed a little crooked, as if it had been dragged along rough roads and would always be somewhat broken.

She wore a small black badge of a monster on her coat lapel.

illustrator unknown, found on pinterest
if this is your art please let me know & I will 
credit or remove it as you wish


  1. This was incredible! I hope you find the author.

    1. Er, I'm the author :-) Do you mean the illustrator? Beautiful picture isn't it.

  2. Beautiful. I imagine this tale, among others of yours, bound and illustrated with images such as the one above. There is real medicine here. xx

    1. Thanks :) I have thought about writing another story book but feel I ought to do a novel. It's hard, i naturally work best on a smaller scale. I appreciate your kind words xx

    2. I just found this in an old blogpost of mine and had to put it here in response to myself.

      "Novel writing is very different from this kind of storytelling. I think perhaps it's too easy for the writer to focus on the plot, the grammar, the precision of editing, rather than to grow the spirit of the tale. I think too novelists worry a lot about structure, pacing, word counts - whereas medicinalists know to value weeds, unexpected growth, symbosis. I know some medicinal novels. But they are less common than I would wish them to be."

    3. oh my! That's perfect. Yes. Such a beautiful analogy. You've articulated what I've been feeling my way through lately, but couldn't quite see the shape of it until now. xx

  3. I love this. So very much.

    But then I believe in those monsters.

  4. I'm trying really hard not to cry right now. I wish I could find the magic to soothe my monster.
    love & blessings

    1. I always feel that tears are like a pool of water on the earth or in a dimpled stone, showing us where to find sustenance.

      You know, I think magic is everywhere. In the sunlight. In a new book. In his hand held out to you, the feel of his skin, of his smile. In walking barefoot through grass or whatever else your six year old self yearned to do. I'm not saying this ordinary magic is always a cure, some people need pills to alter their chemistry - but being footed and open-hearted in the world, being tender with yourself in small moments, this can help. Your monster is beautiful. ((Hugs to it and you.))


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