Once upon a time there was a giant monster named Ralph. He was orange all over and had short little legs, a big fat body, crazy long arms, and a giant eye in the middle of his forehead. In short, he was ugly, as all good monsters should be. He was also ravenous, as all good monsters should be. Ravenous means that he could never get enough to eat. He would wake up in the morning and eat a forest for breakfast. Then in the middle of the morning, he would snack on some semi trucks. For lunch he might eat a skyscraper and wash it down with a swimming pool. Even with an afternoon snack of swing sets, by dinner time, he be hungry enough to eat a whole zoo.
As you can imagine, he created fear and panic wherever he went, because people never knew when he might come along and eat their home or their school or their workplace. It’s hard to sleep at night when you never know when your roof might disappear and a giant eye look in at you. And it’s very boring at the park when all the swing sets have been eaten.
One little boy in particular was very upset about it all. The day his favorite park was eaten, he came home and cried for three hours. His house echoed his cries sadly. The next day his school was devoured. He wasn’t quite as sad about that, but he did complain a lot that night. His house liked it much better when it could hear him happily playing and not whining. The day after that, when all the firetrucks were consumed, he sat without saying a word, hugging his little toy fire truck. This was too much for the little house, which loved the boy and proudly bore his crayon marks in its walls along with his scuff marks on its floors. That night the house made a difficult decision. While everyone inside was sleeping, the little house very carefully shook itself and…woke up.
You may wonder why your house has never woken up. It is because houses were built to be passive, watching the lives of their families as if dreaming. These dreams carry on in memory long after a house is empty and even when it is knocked down. Only very rarely does a house come awake to actively change things. And when it does, it can only be awake for a short time, and after that it dreams no more. So you can see why this was a difficult decision for the little house.
It had decided just in time. The next day, Ralph showed up in the little boy’s neighborhood. He started munching trees and then quickly moved on to buildings. He gobbled up the corner convenience store and then munched through every house on the street. At last he came to the little boy’s house. With a monsterly rumble he opened his giant mouth to take a bite.
Then the window shades blinked up, the front door opened wide like a mouth, and the house echoed back Ralph’s roar, only much, much louder. Ralph was so stunned that he stopped mid-bite to stare at the house. The house just sat there blinking its windows at him. Once again Ralph opened his mouth wide, thinking to take off the whole roof at once. With a little shudder and a jerk, a pane of glass from the window flew out of the house and straight down Ralph’s throat. He choked a little. While he was still choking, another pane of glass was thrown right up his nose. Ralph sneezed a big sneeze that bent all the trees back. While he was still trying to recover from his sneeze, a doorknob hit him square in his giant eye. That one really hurt. With his eye closed, he couldn’t see anything. But he could feel it as shingles from the roof began pelting him from every direction. Bellowing with rage and pain, Ralph turned and ran blindly down the street and out of town.
No one in that city ever saw Ralph the monster again.
As for the little house, it was a pitiful looking wreck with no windows, no doorknob, and only half a roof. But in the yard was a little boy, jumping up and down and laughing fit to burst. The house creaked and sighed, a happy sigh that sounded just a bit like “good-bye….”