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It was late, at least for Alexi, but he didn't want to go to bed. Not when he knew what was waiting in the dark shadows of his closet. His mother said he worried too much, that there was nothing to be afraid of, but she'd never seen him; the great, big monster that crept around his room when no one was looking. He thought it was a boy monster, he couldn't imagine a girl monster, unless she was there to give him cooties or something. Alexi stood in the doorway of his room clutching Franklin, his slightly battered but well-loved teddy bear, to his chest and peering inside worriedly.
A slim, dark-haired woman stopped behind the boy and looked at him sternly. "All right you, no more dawdling. You need to go to bed."
"But, Mom," Alexi replied, blinking at her with big innocent eyes. "I can't go to sleep yet."
"Alexi, it's already an hour past your bedtime." The boy's mother smoothed his caramel-colored hair. "Ten year olds are not supposed to be up all night, especially when they have school in the morning."
"But, I'm not sleepy, really." Alexi tried to hold back a yawn but wasn't terribly successful. He was tired, but not getting eaten took priority over sleep, at least in his book.
"Alexi, bed. Now," his mother ordered as she pointed toward his bed.
"Okay." There was no arguing with his mom when she took that tone. Alexi headed into his room cautiously and sat on his bed.
"I don't understand you sometimes." His mother fixed a button on his penguin pajamas. "What are you so afraid of in here?"
"I--nothing." He couldn't tell her. She wouldn't believe him. Grownups didn't believe in monsters. Alexi just hoped that he could make it togrown up so he could stop believing in them, too.
"Get some sleep, okay?"
"That's all I ask." Alexi's mother tucked him in and kissed his forehead. "Good night, Alexi."
Alexi lay in his bed for a while, determined to stay awake, just in case his monster decided to make an appearance. Then again, it would probably be less painful to be eaten if he was asleep. At least he wouldn't know what was happening until it was too late. With that in mind, Alexi pulled his covers over his head and Franklin's and tried to go to sleep. It wasn't hard, considering how tired he was.