The Something

Natalie Babbitt

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Something
The truth is that Mylo was very much afraid of the dark.
When his mother asked him why, he had a hard time answering. Finally he said, "I keep thinking something will come in through the window."
"What kind of a something?" asked Mylo's mother. "Robbers, I suppose? Or ghosts? There's no such thing as ghosts, you know, and even if we had some robbers they wouldn't be interested in you." And Mylo's mother, who liked to explain things, went on to tell about the habits and customs of robbers.
"I'm not worried about robbers," said Mylo, though he did hate to disappoint her. "And it's not ghosts either."
"Well, what is it then?" said Mylo's mother.
"Just a Something," said Mylo.
This left his mother with nothing at all to explain. She felt very bad about not being able to help him. So the next day she went out and bought a large package of modeling clay and gave it to him, and that made her feel better.
Mylo didn't know what to do with the clay at first. Mostly he made lumps and thumbprints. Or rolled it into snakes.
But after a while he found himself trying to make a statue of the Something he was afraid of in the night.
Every day he worked with the clay. And every day he learned a more about how to make it do what he wanted.
Mylo's mother explained to her friends. "I didn't realize how artistic Mylo is," she said. "He's so busy with his clay, he's forgotten all about being afraid of the dark."
But the real reason why Mylo was so quiet at night was this: He was trying to figure out exactly what the Something looked like. He found himself almost wishing it would come in through the window, so he could get a good look at it and make a better statue in the morning.
Then one day everything seemed to go just right, and suddenly there it was. He had made a perfect statue of the Something. He was very proud of his work.
When he showed it to his mother, she said "That's beautiful, Mylo" in such a special voice that he knew she had no idea what it was.
But it didn't matter. Mylo didn't try to explain. He carried the statue to his room and put it on the table by his bed.
That night Mylo went right to sleep and dreamed he was wandering out in the wild dark. He came to a sort of window, and all at once the Something was there, climbing through.
It was the very Something he had modeled out of clay. But he found he wasn't afraid any more.
He spoke right up to it. "Hello," he said. "My name is Mylo and I'm not afraid of you at all."
"I'm not afraid of you either," said the Something. "But I wish you'd get out of my dream."
"This isn't your dream," said Mylo.
"This is my dream. And anyway, I was just leaving."
"Goodbye then," said the Something.
"It was nice talking to you."
And then Mylo woke up.
In the morning his mother said,
"Aren't you going to play with your clay today?"
"No," said Mylo. "I'm tired of it now."
But he kept the statue of the Something for a long time afterward.
He kept it because he was the only one who knew what it was.
And he didn't want to forget too quickly.
Copyright © 1970 by Natalie Babbitt