Fiction | December 01, 1991

This story is not currently available online.

There is a sign, hand lettered on red construction paper, on her son’s bedroom door.  It says: NO MONSTERS CAN COME HERE.  THAT’S THE LAW.  Her son dictated the words to her at bedtime one night.  He watched, his wet lips parted, as she wrote the sign and taped it up.  Later, getting into bed, he clung to her.  “Mommy,” he whispered, “can monsters read?” She reads, these days, books on child development, combing the indexes for FEARS, NIGHTTIME or MONSTERS, FEAR OF.  She knows from these books that four year olds are commonly afraid of imaginary beings.  She understands that the fears are normal and will pass.  “Yes,” she tells her son, “monsters can read.” Her husband does not approve of this.  He says that by going along with the fantasies she is reinforcing them.  “Robbie,” he says to his son, “there are no monsters. Right?”

“Right,” says Robbie.

If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member at an institution whose library subscribes to Project Muse, you can read this piece and the full archives of the Missouri Review for free. Check this list to see if your library is a Project Muse subscriber.