finstrom photo

The Creature from the Black Lagoon
by Jennifer Finstrom

For a time when I was in grade school, I had a best friend who was also named Jenny. We trick-or-treated from kindergarten to third grade, but the only treats I remember now are the flat envelopes of SweetTarts, containing only two candies.

I slept over at her house often, watched old monster movies in the living room with her parents and brothers. Those movies alone wouldn’t have frightened me, but during that time, I was reading every book about ghosts and hauntings the West Allis Public Library offered. I couldn’t sleep for imagining wandering spirits, even in my own bed, and lay awake until morning in the screened-in porch that Jenny’s family had at the back of their house.

The night noises of 70s suburbia seeped through the screens with chlorine from their pool, and even though I was more frightened of Borley Rectory’s ghost nun and the White Tower’s White Lady, knew somehow that the Creature from the Black Lagoon was there, waiting for me to close my eyes. I know now that fear and sympathy had twin parts in me then, knew that I would always fear misunderstanding as much as any monster.

PHOTO: The author on Halloween in the early 80s as half of a pair of dice.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I thought back at Halloween memories, what comes to mind are the old monster movies, and even though they didn’t frighten me, my imagination—combined with all of the books I was reading—was more than sufficient.


Jennifer Finstrom
 teaches in the First-Year Writing Program, tutors in writing, and facilitates writing groups at DePaul University. She is the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine, and recent publications include Escape Into Life,Extract(s), NEAT, and YEW Journal. For Silver Birch Press, she has work appearing in the  The Great Gatsby Anthology  and Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and forthcoming in the Alice in Wonderland Anthology.