SEA MONSTERS AND ASTRONAUTS

By John Thomas Tuft

The first time the sea monsters showed up, Evan’s mom was out of the bathroom, leaving him alone in the bathtub. As with most monsters, Evan was frightened at first. But he was brave enough at five years old, to ask each of the monsters its name. “Snit Rocker,” came the reply. “I’m Snapey Rake,” said the other. Most monsters come with more than one name, you do realize I’m sure, but these two went by only their first names, Snit and Snapey. Evan asked them to what pleasure did he owe their visit? Now mind you, little boys are well known for being able to readily forget the most recent important things, while never forgetting the distant trivial. And if he tried to tell his mother about the sea monsters,  Evan knew she would shake her head and mutter some words about “your father’s influence.”

But one thing you may not know is that sea monsters show up for very particular reasons at very particular times. Your basic elements of a sea monster are 1. Size; 2. fear factor—for instance, does it want to eat me or, protect me. And, 3. power to effect life’s events, such as predicting storms ahead or calm waters. But when sea monsters reveal themselves to little boys, it is always for the same reason: something scary and frightening is happening, and they need someone bigger and more fierce then they are to help navigate their way through. And so it was this time, as well, with Evan. And he followed the advice to gain their magical powers, for better or worse.

Evan decided he did not want anyone to see him anymore. No one, that would be his best protection from being so afraid. Becoming invisible was out of the question even with the magic of sea monsters, so he decided to wear an astronaut suit. At all times. Boots, gloves, a jumpsuit made out of white special space suit material with knobs and zippers and Velcro everywhere. And a helmet. A full helmet, with a double face shield. One tinted just enough so that people could not see his eyes, and one with gold reflective material that kept people from seeing any part of his face that he could flip down whenever he needed. His first day of school his fellow students, not to mention his teacher, were all quite nonplussed. Not only could they not see Evan’s eyes, no one could see his skin and the helmet distorted his voice so no one could tell if he had any kind of an accent. When he got home, he wrote in his notebook, “Sea monsters live in the dark waters, invisible.”

Whenever he went outside to play with friends, Evan still wore the space suit. No one knew who this boy in the space suit really was. How could they? Over time, Evan decided that he liked it that way. He went through the rest of childhood always protected by his space suit. When he reached high school, some thought the suit made him strange. Some thought the suit made him very cool. When he was with people who wanted to be friends, he just used the shield that covered his eyes. When he was in front of adults who, naturally, wanted to control everything, the full plated shield came down. The astronaut suit protected him at all costs, but it also kept others from getting through. When he would lie in his room alone at night, Evan would write in his notebook, “Astronauts float above it all.”

When he was older, one day a very nice woman fell in love with the man in the astronaut suit. She thought he had a boyish charm, a mysterious quality that set him apart. Over the years, Evan had received many patches for being a very good astronaut and wore them proudly on his space suit. They got married and had a nice home. Yet, Evan never let her see beyond the shielded eyes and the high tech fabric. The very nice woman started to wonder what was really underneath the space suit. What was Evan hiding, or hiding from? “You know me,” Evan would say whenever she complained that she did not really know him. “I’m the astronaut. Look at all of my patches.” But she grew ever more unhappy and left Evan one day. That night, alone in his room, Evan wrote in his notebook, “My space suit is all that I have left.”

Evan became a bitter man. “Astronauts should be more appreciated,” he groused to his notebook. He decided to take off the suit and get into a nice, hot bath. While he was splashing about, who should appear but the two sea monsters, Snit and Snapey. “The space suit did not work,” said Evan. “What do you mean?” asked Snit. “Yeah, said Snapey, “you are still a little boy. Scared and alone.” Evan thought about that a moment. “But what good is that?” The two visitors shrugged. “Now you can be a sea monster, too.”

Words are magic and writers are wizards.