Flashback Friday: Lost But Not Forgotten
This story was originally posted on August 19, 2017. I like this spin on the classic Orpheus story. I wish the original had a happier ending, too.
Melvo lived under Jason’s bed. He was pretty lucky. Most monsters under beds were lonely and lived on a diet of dust bunnies and half-finished homework. But Jason was different. When Melvo first moved in under the bed, Jason quickly made him feel welcome.
Jason had grinned. Instead of yelling or turning on the lights and banishing him back to the shadowlands, Jason offered him an odd sock. “Hi, I’m Jason,” he said. “I always wanted a monster under my bed.” The sock was soft, and covered in pictures of cartoon bats and ghosts.
“Are you sure I can eat this?” Melvo asked. “This is a very nice sock.”
“I have lots of socks,” Jason said. “What’s your name?”
“Melvo,” Melvo said. He bit into the sock, and it tasted better than any dust bunny he’d ever eaten. Melvo smiled, and then remembered that monster smiles are scary. He frowned and looked down.
“What’s wrong?” Jason asked.
“Aren’t you scared of me?” Melvo asked.
“Of course not,” Jason said. “Monsters aren’t scary. I know lots of nice monsters. We have a mummy visiting from Egypt next week, and my uncle is a vampire. There’s a werewolf next door, but he thinks we don’t know about that.”
“Okay,” Melvo said. “So does that mean we’re friends?”
And they were. They talked in the evenings, while Jason recopied his homework so that Melvo could eat freshly done, high-grade completed homework. On holidays, Jason shared his socks and told him all about their traditions.
Melvo told him about dust bunnies. He tried to describe the taste of a good sock. He told him about the shadowlands where there was nothing to do but sleep and wait and dream.
“What do you dream about?” Jason asked.
“Finding a home,” Melvo said.
“Is that a good dream?” Jason asked.
“It’s the best dream. I found a home and I’m happier than I’ve ever been,” Melvo said. And he was very happy.
Then one day, Jason told him his family was moving. “You have to come too, Melvo,” he said.
“How?” Melvo asked. “I know how to find your room, but if you move you’ll be somewhere else.”
Jason thought for a moment. Then he smiled. “I’ll put a box under the bed. Climb inside. I’ll close it while it’s still dark and not open it until we get to the new house. Then I’ll open it under the bed. That way you won’t have to go to the shadowlands until after you know where my new room is so you can find it again.”
“That might work,” Melvo said.
So, when the time came, Melvo climbed into the little box, and Jason sealed it shut. After a long wait, the box moved. There were noises and voices and the box swayed.
“The box is really light,” he heard Jason say. “What if he isn’t in here?”
And then he heard the scrabble of fingernails on the outside of the box. There was the ripping sound of tape pulled back, just a little. The corner of the box lifted. For just a moment, he saw Jason’s face, framed by a brilliant blue sky, and then he was pulled back into the shadowlands.
The new family in Jason’s old house didn’t like monsters under the bed. So Melvo hid, and ate dust bunnies. Some nights he paced under the bed until the floorboards creaked so that the lights would go on and he could be sent back to the shadowlands early. He missed Jason.
And then, one evening, as he woke in the shadowlands, he saw a little dot of light. He’d never seen anything like it. Instead of following the well-worn path to Jason’s old room, he raced towards the little light.
It led him down a new path, and just before he caught it, he tipped over the edge into a new room. And when he looked up at the bed, he knew where he was. “Jason?” he whispered.
“Melvo!” Jason said. “I’m so happy to see you. I didn’t know if that would work.”
“What did you do?”
Jason smiled. “I wished on a star. Have I told you about stars yet? They’re pretty amazing.” And Jason told him about stars and gave him a sock with pictures of angry pumpkins. And Melvo was happy.