Tea

Danny hoped his annoyance didn’t show too much as he tried to comfort his crying child. “What happened to your teacup, honey?”

“The monster broke it,” Ava sobbed.

“Oh a monster, huh?” Danny replied, jaw tensing. “Well did you tell the monster that we have to be extra careful with your china tea set?”

“I tried,” she said, sniffling, “but—but—but—”

Danny finally softened at the tears, recognizing that whatever had happened, his daughter was in genuine distress. “Alright sweetheart, go sit on the couch and calm down while I clean up the rest of your tea party.”

“B-but—but the monster!

“Don’t worry,” he called out over his shoulder, “I can handle a—” But then he saw it.

Blue feathers, a scaly tail, a party hat resting between curved horns. The monster messily gobbled up a cucumber sandwich they had skewered on their claw. “What did your dad—oh . . .” they trailed off, locking eyes with Danny.
“You . . .”

The monster hastily wiped crumbs from their maw and said, “Yeah . . . sorry about the plate.”

“It’s . . . okay . . .” he mumbled. “We got them from a thrift store.”

“Right on,” they answered. “Oh, and tell Ava she makes a kickass cup of Darjeeling.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

Hungry

Shana was reaching for her keys when the voice slithered out of the darkness. “Hungry,” it groaned. She paused, hand on the knob, and tried to ignore the void in the corner of her eye. “Huuuungryyy.” 

She sighed. “I already fed you this morning.”  

A thin, boney limb reached out of the shadows, clawing vaguely in Shana’s direction. “Hungry,” the creature growled again, more insistently. She could see the glint of jagged teeth and six glowering eyes reflected out of the darkness. 

Shana folded her arms. “This is getting out of hand. I can’t keep going back and forth every time you want a snack.” 

She wasn’t sure if the sound that came next was a growl or a hiss, but it made her flinch in spite of herself. Perhaps the creature could sense fear, or perhaps it finally lost its temper. Either way, it began thrashing wildly, beating against the furniture and walls, shouting “Hungry! Hungry! Huuuungrrrrryyyyy!”  

But the fit was short-lived, soon replaced by a soft, pathetic whimper. Shana softened. “Wow. You really are hungry, aren’t you?” 

Fifteen minutes later, she pulled up to the drive through. “Yeah, I’m going to need a dozen pumpkin spice lattes please.” 

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox