The Monster sat by the towpath and watched the water ripple. He was a handsome, smartly dressed young man but he was a Monster all the same. A family, laughing and enjoying a walk together, ignored him as they walked on by.
The Monster watched a film of diesel spin shapes and colours on the water. He watched hover flies with spindly legs zigzagging in some pointless search and he watched as the small, exhausted child slid quietly beneath the surface of the water. Her little body descended and settled on the silt just four feet below.
She'd run by so closely her dress had brushed the Monster's leg. The shock as she hit cold water sucked the air from her lungs. Breathless and full of fear she locked her gaze onto the Monster just an arm's length away on the safety of the towpath. For nearly a minute her eyes begged him before her strength failed and her face turned to the sky.
It wasn't the Monster's fault. The little girl had become separated from her family, squealing as she’d chased the ducks that plopped into the canal. But Emma, running at full pelt, couldn't stop herself. The Monster watched but did nothing and if he’d done nothing then surely he’d done nothing wrong.
No, it really wasn't the Monster's fault.