‘Jamie’s Monsters’ by Liz Kalaugher

The first time Jamie saw the monster it was bright lime green. Splotches of colour ran from its head down its long, long body to the tip of its tail.

“Wow,” Jamie said to himself, and left his mouth open. “Look at all those legs.” The monster’s legs were in rows like the bristles on a toothbrush. There were spikes on its back and its eyes were shiny and huge.

When he spotted the monster, Jamie was running home through the wood on his way back from school. Running home through the wood was often the best part of school. He liked to listen to the birds and see the shapes the trees made against the sky. Today was a Monday, he had sausages and apple crumble for lunch, and the sun was out. The light glinted through the trees and bounced off the monster’s scales. That’s when Jamie saw it. His arms flailed round in circles as he stopped running. Then he jogged a few steps backwards and stood there gobsmacked, eyeball to eyeball with the monster. But he wasn’t scared. Once he could breathe again and he’d had a good look, Jamie dropped his gaze to the floor and backed away slowly and quietly like you should with gorillas. This monster wasn’t a gorilla but it wouldn’t do to upset it.

That evening, Jamie snuggled up with his mum on the sofa and told her about the monster. She asked him lots of questions. She always did, she was a scientist. How big was it? What did it look like? What was it doing? Jamie told her everything. “Hmmm,” she said. “Worth keeping an eye on that one. We need more evidence.”

On Tuesday as Jamie went home through the wood after school he skipped and skedaddled through the bluebells until he was close to where the monster had been. Then he tiptoed. He was on the hunt for more evidence. As he searched, he saw a small black spider, some lacy-winged pale green flies and a bee crawl inside a pink flower. But he realised he didn’t know what evidence looked like. Luckily the monster was still there so he looked at that instead. It was almost in the same place and had ripped big jagged holes in its surroundings. “Wow,” said Jamie, and left his mouth open. “He must be really hungry.” But he wasn’t scared at all.

When Jamie told his mum about the monster that evening, she laughed and said yes. “He needs a lot of energy right now,” she said. “It’s all evidence. He’s growing

up fast.” Was evidence invisible? Jamie hadn’t seen any in the wood but he’d still managed to bring some back with him. “Evidence is what you see and what you hear and what you find out,” his mum explained. “You found out that the monster likes to eat so that’s evidence.”

On Wednesday in the wood after school Jamie scampered through the grass on his way to see if the monster was growing up. But it wasn’t, it hadn’t grown any taller, just longer and fatter. Apart from that it was exactly the same. Bright lime green, splotchy, munching, munching, munching.

At home on the sofa that evening he told his mum about the munching and the growing sideways. “Good work, Jamie,” she said. “The evidence is mounting up.”

On Thursday in the wood after school, there was a rustle in the grass, a scrabble and a jostle. Jamie looked closer. Nothing, just tangled green leaves then pop, a head peeped out. A round dark eye peered from one side whilst a small flat nose wrinkled up and down. Then there was a flash of white tail as the rabbit turned and ran, and Jamie heard the tap, tap, tap of a woodpecker bashing at the bark of a tree. That could be evidence too, he was getting good at this. He raced towards the monster’s favourite place, zigzagging down the path. But the monster was gone. He stuck his head into the green, hairy leaves where it had been, turned his neck from side to side, but not a trace. Shoulders slumping, he turned round to go home. Then stopped. There on a branch, where the monster had been, was a brown case as shiny as varnish. It had a pinched-in waist and twisted off ends. But it didn’t move or do anything.

“I want my monster back, Mum,” he said on the sofa that evening. “It had legs and splotches, it was bright lime green and it liked to munch.” “Oh, Jamie,” said his Mum. “Be patient. Good things come to those who wait.” Grown-ups didn’t always make sense.

Even so, Jamie was patient the whole of Friday. In the wood, patches of small green spikes peeked out through the soil and a jay was hopping from branch to branch, head tilted from side to side. “Caw,” it said. “Caw, caw.” But there was still no monster. Today even the shiny case had gone. Jamie searched from branch to branch, pushing twigs and leaves gently aside in case he’d got the wrong place. High up, low down, he looked everywhere. And suddenly, there it was - a whole new splotchy monster. “Wow,” said Jamie, and left his mouth open. This monster was even larger and more beautiful than the last one. It had very short, white fur, and big orange blotches at its corners. Jamie got his face close to see better and the monster flapped its two sides towards its middle and rose into the air. This monster had wings! It flittered and fluttered around Jamie’s head then headed off towards the treetops and the sunshine. “Bye, monster,” said Jamie. “Goodbye.”

“What did you see in the wood today, Jamie?” his Grandpa asked him at home that evening. His mum had gone to a rainforest to find out about the animals and plants so she could look after them as well as Jamie. She was always extra smiley when she got home and gave him an enormous hug and a new toy to cuddle. Jamie told his Grandpa about the flying monster. “How lovely, Jamie” he said. “A butterfly.” Jamie gave him his best smile. When it came to monsters, Jamie had all the evidence.