Fathom 1984



Inside Cover



Babila Mutia
Margaret Snyder (3)
Lex Gigeroff
Nicola Young
Paul Deagle (2)
Philip Graves
Sean Bedell (3)
Lynn Courtney
Amy R. McEwan
Sara Davina
John Mallon
Patricia Boyle
dixie MacDonald (2)
Andrew Little (3)
Sophie Dessureault (2)
James Cranton
Christopher Aucoin
David Swick (2)


Giles Osborne


Jane Mothersell




Giles Osborne



The Negative Effect of Mother Goose

     There was a monster in Mark’s backyard. It strained even the limits of a four-year-old’s imagination; still, there was a monster in Mark’s backyard.
     Mark took one more look to be absolutely sure. Then he ran from his bedroom, raced down the hall, flew down the stairs, and ended up in the kitchen, where his mother was making chocolate-chip cookies. “Mommy! Mommy! There’s a big black monster in the backyard!”
     “Of course there is dear,” she replied with her mother-to-four-year-old voice.
     “Aren’t you even gonna look?”
     His mother glanced wearily out the window. The grass was the dirty yellow of spring. The garden was an imposing sea of mud. There was no monster. “I don’t see any monster,” she said.
     “Well, he must be gone now, but he was there!” Mark rushed back up to his room.
     His thoughts remained on the monster for the rest of the day. Mommy had told him that there was no monster, but even mommies can be wrong. He remembered one day when they were going to walk to the store. Mark had looked up at the dark sky and said, “It’s going to rain. Bring the umbrella.” But Mommy had answered that it wasn’t going to rain, and she had answered in that same mother-to-four-year-old voice. And it rained. Mommy had been wrong.
     At supper time, Mark tried to tell his father about the monster, but his parents were talking about an election. Mark knew an election was a kind of contest where the winner got to boss people around for a few years. Maybe, Mark thought. Maybe someday I’ll win a big election. Then people will believe me when I see a big monster.
     He did not sleep well that night.
     When he woke the next morning, the monster was far from his mind. The sun was shining: the grass was greener; and the orange juice didn’t have little lumps in it. His mother seemed in a good mood, and she suggested that he go into the backyard and play with his trucks.
     Mark liked his trucks. He had a big one with a ladder, two orange ones that could carry dirt, and a green one with a big tank. He drove them across the garden, which had started to dry. When he reached the fence at the edge of the garden, he stopped.
     The fence was ugly, as fences go. It reached just above his nose, and the white paint was worn away, exposing the black underneath. Mark’s fence was the edge of his world. There was another world outside though, he knew. Mommy had said he could see it next year.
     Now, as he peered over the fence, he heard a faint rustling noise. Something was disturbing the leaves in the woods beyond. Mark climbed to the height of the first board and peered over. It was the monster! Big and black. Mark leapt from the fence and ran as fast as his four-year-old legs could carry him. “Mommy!” he screamed. “The monster’s in the woods!”
     “Yes dear,” his mother said, “Have a cookie.”
     “But Mom!” He was near tears.        
     “There are no monsters in the backyard,” his mother said with a very firm voice, “Now, do you want a cookie or don’t you?”
     Mollified, Mark took the cookie and went to his room. He knew he had seen the big black monster, but she thought it was just his imagination. Mark chewed the cookie for some time. It was hard to swallow.
     He stared out the window. His trucks were where he had left them, by the fence. He couldn’t get them today with the monster prowling around out there. It was probably looking for little boys, like Mark, to eat.
     He played indoors the rest of the day, but he couldn’t keep his mind off the monster. Maybe he would ask his Dad what the big, black thing was. He drew a picture of the monster with his crayons It had huge fangs, big blood-shot eyes, and horns. The monster became clearer and clearer as he drew. Of course it had fangs; otherwise how could it eat people? And what self-respecting monster would be without horns.
     When he finished his picture, he ran downstairs to show it to his Dad, who had just arrived home. “What’s this?” his father asked, taking the picture. “Why, that’s a mighty mean lookin’ monster!” he said “Did you see it in the basement?”
     “No, Daddy, in the backyard,” Mark said, “And I really did see it too.”
     “Of course you did. Isn’t that Mommy calling us for dinner? Let’s go see what she’s got on the table.”
Mark had little appetite that night. His mother had to force him to eat his vegetables.
     In bed, he had a dream. A shapeless, black horror chased him down a long corridor. He woke screaming.
     It was morning, Mommy and Daddy rushed into his room to assure him that everything was all right. They both agreed there was no real monster.
And Mark made a firm decision. His trucks were still by the fence, and he had to recover them. He would walk bravely down and return, without running.
     He stepped out the back door.
     t h e   f i e l d   w a s   c l e a r
     and started down the stairs. In the background he heard the rumble of morning traffic
     a r t i l l e r y   f i r e
     and it reassured him; told him that he was not alone. He started walking across the yard. Far above, a jet roared.
     F - 4   D a w n   P a t r o l
     but the air seemed thick, still. He reached the end of the yard and picked up his trucks. No silly monsters were going to get him.
     A rumble.
     S i r !   M o r t a r   B a r r a g e
     and a grizzly broke his neck in one clean sweep.


last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul