"Tell me about the monster, daddy."

That was a surprise.

"Today? But you've just been the monster."

Her costume had won first prize. He was proud of that: her mother had made it to her instructions, but he felt that he was the real designer.

"Yes. That's why. I was the monster, but it's your monster really, because it was you who told me about it."

Well that was true. So the monster it was:

"It's getting late. You should be asleep."

"If I don't go to sleep, am I a Bad Girl?"

"Well, yes. You need to sleep so as to grow up to be a big strong girl."

"What happens to the Bad Girls?"

"You know that already."

"I've forgotten again."

"No, you haven't."

She remembered all of the details, and complained if he left any out.

"Yes I have. Tell me what happens to Bad Girls, daddy."

"The monster in the cupboard comes to get them."

"But there is no monster in the cupboard!"

"Not in your cupboard. But you're a good girl."

"How does the monster get into the cupboard?"

"No-one knows. It's a monster secret."

Until a few months ago that was the end of it. But then she started asking questions:

"What does the monster do when it comes out of the cupboard?"

"It looks around with its thirteen eyes. It doesn't need to move his head: it has three eyes on the the front, three on the back, three on each side, and one on the top of its head."

"Why does it only have one on the top?"

"Because that one has nothing to look at but the ceiling."

"Then why does it have it at all?"

"In case there's a spider on the ceiling. It likes spiders."

"Why does it like spiders?"

"Because they are so juicy and tasty."

"And what does it do when it sees the Bad Girl, daddy?"

"Monsters like Bad Girls even more than they like spiders. When it sees the girl, it starts to drool, lets its claws out, and wiggles its fingers."

"How many fingers does it have?"

"Twenty-one. Seven on each hand. With long sharp claws."

"What are the claws for, daddy?"

"Ooh, I can't tell you that, you're too young."

"Does the monster eat the Bad Girls?"

"In the end."

"What do you mean 'in the end'?

"Well, it does Other Things first."

"What 'Other Things'?

"Ooh, I can't tell you that, you're too young."

"Oh, please!"

"No. If I told you that, they'd put me in prison for corruption of minors. And your mummy would be very cross."

"Does the monster have big teeth?"

"Lots of big teeth. And they're all really sharp."

"Does the monster do Things with its teeth?"

"Of course. The monster does Things with everything."

"Everything?"

"Everything."

"Then tell me about 'everything'!"

The costume had 'everything.' It was hanging in her little sister's cupboard:

"There's no room in mine. And I'll be too big for it next year, anyway. So you can have it then."

The promise of next year hadn't stopped her from crying. Once she got started, nothing stopped her. And she started so often, for no good reason.

"What does the monster do with its teeth?"

"Sorry! Too young!"

"And what does it do with its long bony fingers?"

"Much too young!"

"What about the nose?"

"You don't want to know."

"Yes I do."

"Then you'll have to wait until you're grown up."

Later, she sat up in her bed to stay awake until the house was asleep. He never had told her what the monster did with its claws and teeth, with its long bony fingers, with its great big fists, with its long snaky tongue, with its knobbly knees, its pointy nose, or its big smelly bottom. But she wasn't stupid: she could work it out.

And now she knew how it got into the cupboard.

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