Writing Catalog

Abigail Davis

Grade: 11

Shaker Heights High School

Instructor(s): Meryl Haring, Keaf Holliday

Goodbye, My Friend (Hello, Monster)

Short Story

Goodbye, My Friend (Hello, Monster)

"So did this detective say why she was sending you to a home for the criminally insane?" Lash jumped at the sudden voice. But that jersey-tipped accent, the Chicago lilt, it didn't take her long to figure out who exactly had stepped into her hollowed-out room this time.

With her back to the door, she continued what she had been doing as if she were still alone. She cleared her throat of leftover ash and soot. "It's a California group home, first of all, and second of all, no," she said calmly, "she didn't."

"Oh, oh, oh," Andrew laughed, braced on the dark wooden doorframe, "Flying in blind, are we? New home, new you? Fresh start? Hey, maybe it's finally for a good reason that you're being sent away. I mean —" He paused; Lash grinned to herself. "Wait, you know! You're just not telling me, are you?"

"Ding, ding ding! Oh look," she said, waltzing over to her dresser, "we have a winner! Mr. Andrew Linsky, where and when would you like to collect your prize?"

She yanked on the circular dresser knobs, forcing the short dresser open with a harsh creaking sound, and after she'd snatched the pair of socks she wanted, it closed with an even harder thud that shook the wardrobe.

Andrew watched, his eyes drawing together in confusion. "Jeez," he said, scratching his neck, "I just asked a question."

"And I just answered it. Go away. Bye-bye. Auf wiedersehen. Chao."

"Por que?"

She whirled around and chucked the pair of socks. They slammed into Andrew's chest, but it was a tender throw compared to how she treated her monstrous enemies. At least the monsters had the class to not wear shoes in the house. And in her room, too! The nerve of this boy.

"Screw you. Oh, wait, politely, of course. Oh," she said, giving an overdramatic sigh as she twirled airily around the bed, "oh how I'd hate to disrespect poor, rich, Andrew Linsky."

Her lips twisted from a fake, sickly sweet smile down into a scowl. She turned her back to him, grabbing yet another pair of shorts and another handful of shirts. She shoved the articles of clothing into her open suitcase, forcing them on top of the piles with such harshness that the stacks tipped over. The blisters and burns that littered her fingers smashed into the mountain of clothes, but even if she had thrown a full-blown punch, there wasn't enough pain, there was no satisfaction, the entire thing was pointless.

Pointless — just like everything else had been. Even her pursuit of the evil, cascading around the town like some sort of hero, the entire one-person war she had fought had been pointless, landing her back at square one. No, she was at square zero. No, even worse, she was in the negatives. The realization made her even angrier, if that was possible at this point.

She was angry that the pack of monsters she had been chasing got away. She was angry she had to burn down a monument to get to them, and she was completely enraged that even after all of that, it didn't work, and worst of all, she was the one being locked up.

Andrew casually sat himself on top of her desk: Lash secretly hoped a pen was standing up when he did. "What did you even do?" He grabbed her flask, taking a swig of the soda she had hidden inside. "Brother Landon seemed upset. I gotta be honest, I had no idea that man could curse. It was unnatural for him, I'm telling ya. Unnatural, Lash, unnatural."

Lash paused, pursed her lips and considered. It would be sort of nice to tell him. Either way, at this point, what was the harm now? "I might've burnt down Ashking Manor."

The moment he choked was the moment she almost laughed for the first time in days. She peeked while he was sputtering around the soda. His eyes had gone wide to an almost comical extent. "That was you? You did that? You did all of that?"

"I mean I personally didn't do all of it, but yeah." His eyes were still as wide as a human's could be. Even a monster's were smaller — she knew. "Hey! It was abandoned."

"It was arson."

"Abandoned," she said, emphasizing the important word, "no harm, no foul."

He nodded to the suitcase, leveling her a flat look. "Oh look, it's a foul."

She nodded to him. "Look, a disappointment."

"I have a mirror in my pocket if you really want an example of that."

She rolled her eyes. "Listen, can we just, like, not talk about it? At all?"

"No, no," he said, shaking his head, "I think it's important. You know, the tiny, unimportant, minuscule detail where you burnt down a manor."

His words were playful. They were sweet. But she only heard the accusation. She never wanted him to find out about any of it. Now he was asking questions that had the worst answers. He was getting closer to the truth that nearly burnt down half of a forest a few nights ago.

But most of all, he was getting closer to finding out what she was. What she was, was a girl who had her hands stained deep red.

She was a girl with an assortment of weapons packed into the bottom of her suitcase. And she was a girl being shipped off across the country, a girl who wouldn't see her boy for four entire, awful years.

Lash tensed. "It was haunted?" The lie sounded half-witted, even to her own ears.

"That's not any less concerning." Andrew thought for a moment. "Yeah, no, that's even more concerning, come to think of it. The heck do you mean, it was haunted?"

She winced. Quick as a flinch, her shoulders hunched over. "Can we not talk about it?"

"Are you actually upset about this?" He was aghast, he watched her with his jaw dropped to the grounds the manor was built upon. "Seriously? You're not upset by anything, but four weeks away is what gets you? God," he said, scoffing. "That's sad, no, no, that's almost pathetic—"

Dipping her head in shame, Lash interrupted, for she couldn't bare another moment of his hopeful tone and talk. "Four weeks? Four weeks?" she asked, echoing his words. They hollowed her dried mouth. "That's how long they told you I'd be gone for? Four weeks? That's it? Andrew," she turned around to finally and truly see his face, "it's years. I'm going to be gone for four years."

Maybe later, she'd regret turning around. Because when she said that, when she told poor, rich, Andrew Linsky her fate, the smile, his smile, vanished. The realization hit him slowly, but quickly his gaze dulled and his shoulders sagged, he looked unhappy and more unlike himself than he had ever been. Gone was his mischief and gone was his laughter, and she wouldn't be there to see it return, for she'd be gone, too.

That was the straw. When it pulled, tears welled up, and without his smile, she began to cry. "Oh, Lash," he murmured.

He stepped forward with his strong arms raised in the gentlest of embraces. She didn't move until he had wrapped his arms around her, and then she sagged into the warmest, nicest hug anyone had ever given her. Her arms wound around his waist, and she squeezed; she held onto him for the life she held dear, and the life she was now terrified to lose.

For moments, minutes that seemed to flash to hours, they stood there. The world faded to nothing, for in each other's arms they had everything. To stay in that moment, to never let go, they were complete, content, it was safe, and it was enough.

Reluctantly, albeit quick as it was still Lash and Andrew, they pulled away. Lash wiped her eyes; she noticed Andrew did the same. She snorted. "Sap."

"You started it," he said, sniffling.

"Did not."

"Did too."



Lash opened her mouth, thought for a hot second, then sighed and rolled her eyes. "Okay, that's fair. That's fair."

They pulled away. She now plopped herself up on the desk, jumping up with ease. He hopped onto the bed. She sat with her legs criss-cross, and he had his hands in his lap with his legs out and his ankles resting over one another.

"Why'd you do it, anyways?" Andrew asked.

She reached into her pocket, pulling out an amulet with a meticulously linked golden chain that had no clasp. The crystal was a dark red, deep in hue. Golden runes were inscribed on each and every side. She dangled it into her hand. Letting go, the crystal fell into her open palm, a familiar weight. The rest of the chain dropped like the stream of a majestic waterfall.

"You wouldn't believe me." Although she'd seen it before, her eyes stayed transfixed on the runes, the language that seemed to kiss her lips each time she uttered a single word.

"Don't be so dramatic," he said. He flicked a hand with a smooth laugh. "I'm the most open-minded person you've ever met." He snapped with both hands and then pointed at her with ringed fingers and a sly wink.

"Try brussels sprouts."

"Heck no."

"Yeah, that's what I thought," she paused. Carefully, she unwound the amulet, slipping it on. The amulet nuzzled back into its normal place over her heart. "Okay, I'll tell you. But you have to know that I'm completely serious."

Andrew nodded. "Okay, I'm with you. What's up?"

"Ashking Manor was haunted. Hey, hey," she said, raising a warning hand. "You promised you'd let me talk. Thank you. Listen, you know how I'm into demons and monsters and Satan and all that jazz, right?"

He snorted. "Obviously, sunshine. Go on."

"Thanks, Four-eyes. Anyways, I have something to tell you. It's something I've always known about myself. And I've never told you because it's dangerous."

Andrew leaped to his feet. "I knew it, you're gay!"

"No kidding. But no, not that. Yes that, but well, not today. Okay, shut up." Lash paused. Her hand flew to her chest, she held the amulet. She breathed in deep, letting go of the fragile crystal when she exhaled out. "I'm a demon hunter. A monster hunter, really. Ashking Manor was haunted. The thing is, I've been doing this sort of stuff for a while. Ever since you knew me. The problem with the group home is that if I leave now, then there's no one there to protect us, or save us from him."

"Him who?"

Lash winced. "The monster in our house?"

"The what—"