“I’m not lying!”
She folded her arms awkwardly across her chest and pouted.
Jemma sighed. There was no dealing with her when she got like this.
“Okay, fine,” she said to her little sister. “So you did see a monster in the tree. What did it look like?”
Kimmy sniffed. “It was like a ephelunt,” she said. “But green. And furry.”
“A green furry elephant? In a tree?”
Kimmy stamped her foot. “It’s true!”
“Fine.” Jemma held out her hand. “Show me.”
Her sister looked up at her with big eyes, hesitated for a moment, then took her hand. They went out of the back door, carefully latching it so they could let themselves back in, and walked down the long path that led to the end of the back garden.
The tree at the end of the garden was huge; it threw several metres of the garden into deep shade even in the middle of the day. Their mother kept making phone calls, trying to find out who owned the land it was on so she could ask them to cut it to a more reasonable height, but hadn’t been able to find anyone who knew anything about it. “It’s like it doesn’t exist,” she had said to their father.
Jemma bit her lip as she looked up into the shadows, wondering how it was possible that something so big, so dark, could possibly not even be real.
“Lookit,” Kimmy said, tugging at her hand and pointing.
Jemma squinted. She couldn’t see anything. Kimmy pulled at her hand, and they stepped a little closer, and a little closer again.
There was something in the tree, Jemma realised. Something like an elephant’s trunk, but different. It was slimmer, and it didn’t move the same way an elephant’s trunk did. Maybe it was a snake?
It was getting closer, and Kimmy was stretching out towards it.
“Come back, Kimmy,” Jemma whispered, her voice suddenly sounding very weak and frightened.
“Soft,” Kimmy said loudly, stroking the green fur on the outstretched… thing? Limb?
There was a noise in the distance – a car’s engine. Jemma turned to look back at the house, and saw the kitchen light go on. Their parents were home. They would know what the thing was.
She suddenly realised her hand was empty. She turned back to the tree in time to see Kimmy’s feet disappearing into the foliage above her head. There was a brief moment’s silence then, with a heavy thump, Kimmy’s shoes fell to the ground.
Jemma screamed, and ran back to the house.
“It’s true,” she sobbed as she fell into her father’s arms. “There’s a monster in the tree!”
© Kari Fay