Chicken lived inside a box of matches. She liked to set the matches alight, one by one, let them burn down to her fat little finger tips, and then turn them into charcoal pencils. She would draw maps on the inside of the matchbox lid, to far off places she dreamed up in the dark. She would travel over mountain ranges, along the rivers in the valley, cross lowland forest and baron desert and swim the length of oceans for no other reason than that was what she could draw, because that was what she dreamed of when she slept. She longed to draw people with her black match pencils, but she had never seen her own face, nor dreamt of any others, so she had no frame of reference. And Chicken was too afraid to open the matchbox.
Ribbon wasn’t sure how much longer she could hold on for. Her stomach was all tied in knots, and the more she tried to untie them, the tighter they became, like a Chinese finger-trap. She wished that she were somewhere warmer, somewhere where the sun stayed out past three in the afternoon. Somewhere with sand. Ribbon knew she would feel better if she went somewhere that was different, even if it was bad different. Otherwise, she felt like she was unravelling from the inside outward, and fraying at the ends, with all the little tender threads of herself exposed to the dangers of the outside world; she wanted to set them on fire, and watch them melt together into something hard. But what Ribbon did not want, was to spend day after day, hitting her face against a pane of glass. Glass breaks. Sand was already broken, and it cannot slice you in half with the pieces.
Monster did not want to live up to his name’s reputation. He did not think he could, even if he wanted to. He was too skinny, and too small, his body barely cast a shadow on the wall. There was no such thing as skinny monsters, except maybe for spiders. But they had poison in their fangs; Monster had no poison in him, at least none that he could use against another. Monster didn’t even think that spiders were monsters, that it was only because humans were afraid of them that they had named them so. To Monster, they were fellow animals, maybe even friends. He thought about the power of names, and how his name was even more powerful than he was. In his comic books, the monsters were big and loud and full of confidence; there was no room for insecurities. So he thought about maybe trying to become a Hero instead, but that presented the same challenges. Not Big. Not Loud. Not Brave. Not Confident. Sometimes it seemed that Monster’s life was one big collection of nots that he could not escape from, because he was always carrying them around within himself.
Suppose that Ribbon takes Monster’s nots and weaves them into a friendship bracelet, one that reads like a real map for Chicken to follow. Then they could all escape their sorrow.
It is a pity that they will never meet; Chicken cannot travel, Ribbon will never unravel. And Monster, he is still ashamed of his own shadow.
Of Ribbons and Bows