Ryan’s parents went out to a movie one night, and they didn’t come home. After a lot of confusion that Ryan didn’t really pay attention to, he ended up staying with Great-Aunt Josephine. “It’s just for a week, until we can get everyone together for a family meeting. I’m too old to have children yelling and running around the house,” she said.
It didn’t matter that Ryan didn’t feel like running or yelling. Great-Aunt Josephine did not approve of him at all. She said that he chewed too loud and didn’t brush his teeth long enough and his shirts were much too wrinkled.
Ryan didn’t approve of Great-Aunt Josephine either, but he was too polite to say so.
When it was time for the family meeting, every one that came in had to come look at Ryan. They all had the same frowning mouth and wrinkled forehead with their eyebrows all pushed together, and Ryan knew, without having to eavesdrop, that none of them wanted him. Of course, he eavesdropped anyway, and he was right.
He ran out to the backyard. It was late afternoon, and the shadows were long. He wished that he could go back to life the way it was two weeks ago. He wished that he had nice relatives. He wished he could hide in the shadows outside and never come out.
There was a particularly dark, deep shadow by the old oak tree. He couldn’t see the outline of the grass below it or the fence behind it. It was inky black, like a bottomless hole had been punched out of the yard and left in the middle of the shadow.
Someone inside started to yell. Ryan looked over his shoulder at the lighted windows of Great-Aunt Josephine’s house, and then he looked back to the darkest shadow. He wished and wished and wished, and then he jumped straight into the center of the shadow.
He didn’t land on anything at all. The yard and Great-Aunt Josephine’s house and all the terrible relatives disappeared, and Ryan was falling through nothing. Now that his wish had come true, Ryan wasn’t completely certain that it was what he wanted after all.
But, he had no idea how to go back or stop falling. So, he waited. And eventually, he landed. He fell into a pile of leaves in a park. It was night, and a light rain was falling. The slimy leaves stuck to him as he stood up.
Where was he? He felt a little dizzy. The streetlamps were twisty and odd, and the light was blue. It was hard to tell if anything was the right color. The playground in the park had swings and slides of all different widths, heights, and sizes.
In the side of a hill nearby, there was a door. Looking around, he saw little doors set into the ground all around him. There was a little house in the branches of a tree nearby. Further away, he could see houses, lined up along a normal looking road.
He started walking towards the houses. He could see right away that they were all different shapes and sizes. What sort of place was this, and who lived here?
He stopped in front of a house that was about the size of Great-Aunt Josephine’s. Unlike her house, it was sort of roundish, rocky, and cave-like. But it had flowers along the wall in front. Mom used to plant flowers in front of their house. Ryan knocked on the door.
A monster answered the door. It was furry and purple with three eyes and four arms and sharp yellow teeth. And it was wearing a nice plaid shirt and jeans, just like Dad used to change into when he came home from work.
Ryan smiled. “Hello,” he said. “I think I’m lost.”
He soon learned that monsters came in all shapes and sizes and colors. Some were nice, and some were not. The family in the cave house adopted Ryan, and they were very nice indeed.
He missed his old family, but he knew that not every wish could come true. He was happy that at least one of his wishes did. He went to monster school and loved it. He made friends and learned lots of new things and grew up.
Eventually, he found a job as a tour guide for monsters traveling to the human world on vacation, heavily bundled up and disguised, during the off-season. Once, when he had a break, he visited Great-Aunt Josephine’s house. She didn’t live there any more.