Today was the day, Sam thought. He could hardly wait for the girls to get back from school.
He’d spent the morning moving furniture, mainly the queen-sized bed, from the master bedroom into the small spare rooms. That antique had been heavy and required that he completely disassemble and reassemble the bed. It was a good thing he’d had some of his co-workers to help. He still wasn’t sure how they’d gotten the bed in the room at all.
But he and Karen didn’t need the larger bedroom and with three girls, they most definitely did. Sam wasn’t embarrassed to admit he might have spoiled them a tad. But Evelyn had been most persuasive that they needed new beds to go with the new decorations that they had picked out.
But now it was all done and the girl’s new room only awaited Evelyn and Elisa’s final approval and decorative touches. They both assured him that they’d consulted Jasmine during their entire planning process and she too would be on board with the new room.
And then it was going to be Jasmine’s birthday. And the littlest Huffman would no longer be so little.
“I have to finish my homework,” Evelyn said. “Dad won’t start until we’re all ready.”
Jasmine waited while her sister turned her attention back to her homework. She was pleased to see that Evelyn seemed to be working quickly. It did not take her too long to finished. Jasmine jumped to her feet when Evelyn came through the door.
“Ready?” Sam asked, standing behind Evelyn in the doorway, a book in hand. Jasmine nodded and raced to sit down. She loved stories of all kinds. Sometimes they were scary stories or confusing stories, but sometimes they were funny. They were always filled with adventure.
It had become a ritual of sorts to have Dad read a chapter of a story each night. Tonight they were continuing 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Before my eyes was a horrible monster, worthy to figure in the legends of the marvelous. It was an immense cuttle-fish, being eight yards long. It swam crossways in the direction fo the Nautilus with great speed, watching up with its enormous staring green eyes.
“What’s a cuddle-fish?” Jasmine asked.
“A cuttle-fish is like a squid or octopus,” Sam said.
“They’ve got loooong tentacles like an octopus,” Evelyn added. “And sharp beaks that will peck at you.”
“Evelyn,” their father warned. Jasmine frowned, she didn’t want to get anywhere near one of those, no matter how cute they sounded.
Ah! how my heart beat with emotion and horror! The formidable beak of the cuttle-fish was open over Ned Land. The unhappy man would be cut in two. I rushed to his succor. But Captain Nemo was before me; his axe disappeared beteween the two enormous jaws, and, miraculously saved, the Canadian, rising, plunged his harpoon deep into the triple heart of the poulp.
When the chapter was over and the giant squid had attacked and been repelled from the ship. Jasmine changed into her pajamas and brushed her teeth. Then their dad returned to tuck them firmly into bed and give them all a kiss on the forehead. He shut the door before he left.
The room was silent a moment as they listened to their father’s footsteps on the wooden floor.
Elisa was the first to speak. “I think it was sad that the seaman died.”
“I think it’s sad they killed the cuddle-fish,” came Evelyn reply. “It was probably just hungry.”
Silence descended on the room again. Jasmine listened to her sister’s breathing across the room. She wasn’t very fond of fish, they were slimy and tasted like paper. Her mom had said octopus was chewy and flavorless. Jasmine was pretty sure she didn’t like cuddle-fish either.
A soft sucking sound drifted into her ears, Jasmine froze waiting. It came again, louder.
“D-do you hear that?” she asked sitting up.
“Hear what?” Evelyn asked. Jasmine heard the sheets rustle. But again came a soft sucking sound.
“Do you think it’s the tickle monster?” Evelyn asked.
It sounded like it was right under her bed. “I think s-so? It’s under my bed,” she whispered.
“Jump out,” Elisa said.
“Otherwise, it’ll steal your covers.”
Jasmine threw off the covered in a hurry and leapt off the bed. She could see that Evelyn and Elisa were getting up too. She backed up and looked down at her bed. Was anything there? A curl of a tentacle?
Jasmine screamed as her sister surprised her.
“Girls?” Their mom called from the living room. “Back in bed.”
Evelyn was laughing and even Elisa was smiling. Jasmine tried to get her heart to stop racing. She should have known better. Evelyn was fun, but she was also fond of playing tricks.
“It’s okay, Jazz,” Elisa said giving her a hug. “There’s no such thing as a tickle monster.”
They all climbed back into bed and eventually, Jasmine fell asleep.
The next morning, Jasmine woke. She’d had odd dreams of tickle-fish and cuddle-monsters. Her sisters were already up and she could hear them all in the next room having breakfast.
Jasmine froze, that was nothing like the sound Evelyn had made last night.
Very carefully she tilted her head down. There on the floor below were misty tentacles.
She shut her eyes, but when she opened them again, the tentacles were still there.
Psout, theump, ouch.
Surprised she looked down and saw that one of the tentacles had wedged itself into the drawer. She climbed off the bed.
Psout, theump, ouch, whimper.
She hesitated and then reach out, scrunching her face, expecting the tentacle to be slimy and gross. It wasn’t. It was just cool to the touch. She careful opened the drawer to let the tentacle free.
“You’re welcome?” Jasmine said almost without thinking. “Are – Are you the tickle monster?”
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Authors Note: Hahahaha! Yeah – well, it was too cute to share when I realized Evelyn was just scaring her sister. And isn’t Jasmine adorable? She aged up in that hair and it gives her a really vulnerable look. I’m not entirely sure why she wears glasses only at night, but she picked them out herself, and I thought she was entirely too cute to take them away from her.