The Box of Dust and Monsters by Beth Cato

beneath her bed
the girl kept a box of dust
and monsters

the cardboard was fuzzed by use
as she often slid it out
when she found baby monsters
oozing forth from alleys
searing through interdimensional portals
or frightening folks at Walmart

newcomers might wiggle a bit
in her hand
but soon enough they understood
to never bite her

that for all their eyes
and undulating limbs
their status as a demi god
or simple devoted minion
for all their dark plots and machinations

they were loved

that it was fine if their tea parties
discussed scorched earth tactics
and the slyest methods to make
school bullies disappear
(with much debate on if that
should be literal or figurative)

that her hugs
were worth retracting poisonous horns
and delaying an apocalypse or two

that maybe, just maybe
world domination wasn’t the best end goal
after all

and when that heart-breaking moment came
when a monster outgrew the box
there were hugs, groans, and roars farewell
the departing beast still very much
a monster by appearance
but inside
so much more


Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

She’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER (a 2015 Locus Award finalist for First Novel) and THE CLOCKWORK CROWN from Harper Voyager. Her novella WINGS OF SORROW AND BONE is a Nebula nominee. BREATH OF EARTH begins a new steampunk series set in an alternate history 1906 San Francisco.

Non-fiction                                                                            Issue Seventeen                                                                            Next

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