Crayons spilled from the box and rolled across and under the papers on the table as Marta grabbed the coloring book from James.
“It’s mine. You can’t have it,” she grumped, a defiant look on her face.
“Mo-o-m,” James screeched, convincing tears pooling in his eyes, “she tooked it fwom me. Make her give back.”
Gwen sighed and shuffled across the room to mediate between the squabblers. “Kids, honestly… must you fuss ALL the time?”
Rain pounded against the window for the fifth day in a row. Sending the kids outdoors to play wasn’t an option.
Gwen morosely picked up the crayons and worked on stuffing them back in the box. A blank spot mocked her efforts.
“Marta, where’s the black crayon?”
“I dunno. Maybe James ate it.”
“James, have you seen it?”
“Uh-uh, mama… I not see it.”
“Help me look for it. Marta, pick up the papers and put them in a pile… neatly. James, crawl under the table and see if it’s there.”
Marta pulled the papers into a lopsided pile as James scooted underneath the table, dusting the floor with his backside as he hunted for the crayon.
“It’s not here, Mama,” Marta sighed dramatically. “I guess it’s losted forever. Maybe the crayon monster took it.” An ornery smirk flitted across her face.
“No, No! No cwayon monster,” James wailed from under the table. “Mama, tell her stop it.”
“Marta, that’s really unnecessary,” Gwen sighed wearily as she picked up the black crayon from the kitchen chair cushion, “Be nice to your brother. Come out and look, James, it’s right here. I’ll let you put it into the box.”
James scrambled from under the table, and gloated at Marta, “See, no cwayon monster.”
Marta grinned an ornery grin, “Oh, yes there is. It just wasn’t hungry today. But just wait, tonight, when all the lights are off and it’s pitch black, the crayon monster will come sneaking into your room and eat your crayons.”
James looked at her, his brown eyes huge, “Not either. You just teasing me. Mama, tell her stop it.”
Marta came toward him, monster-like, “Here comes the crayon monster, coming to eat your crayons.”
James shrieked and ran and hid behind Gwen. “Mama… she gonna get me.”
“Enough, Marta! James, she’s just teasing, you’re going to be fine. Now stop pulling on my skirt.” Gwen snapped, her patience wearing thin. “Marta, go find a book and sit on the couch and be quiet. James, let’s go find some toys in your room to play with. It sounds like we all need some quiet time, and later we can do something to see if we can’t put a little sunshine into this gloomy day.”
Silence descended on the kitchen. A thin black creature detached itself from the wall. It jumped softly onto the table, causing the pile of papers to slide back across the tabletop. A curious sniff at the box of crayons and a swipe of the paw knocked the crayons to the chair, spilling them from the box. Leaping gently into the chair, the creature picked up the black crayon in its teeth and jumped to the floor. It ran silently into the laundry room, dropped the black crayon down the heating vent, and curled up on the grate, purring softly, as the heater kicked on and ruffled it’s black fur.
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