Isabella Jenkins couldn’t find Arthur anywhere. She checked in her closet, under her desk, and behind her curtains, but her best friend was nowhere to be found.
When Isabella’s mom stuck her head in the door, all she could see were Isabella’s feet in their sparkly tennis shoes, sticking out from under the bed as she searched Arthur. “Did you leave the lid off Arthur’s tank again?” Isabella’s mother asked. From under the bed, Isabella muttered that she had. Isabella’s mother sighed. Arthur, Isabella’s pet iguana, was constantly escaping as a result of Isabella’s carelessness.
“It’s time to leave for school. Your father and I will help you look for Arthur later. And keep the lid on his tank from now on!”
Isabella was about to give up and crawl out from under the bed . . . when a squeaky, creaky voice yelled, “BOO!” right into Isabella’s ear.
“Ouch!” Isabella cried, after she banged her head on the bedframe in terror. She wiggled out from under the bed, clutching her head. “Who’s there?” she started in a quavering voice. She backed into the corner of her room, as the voice under the bed cackled to itself, muttering, “boo!” to itself.
In a moment, a greenish grayish knobby blobby thing crawled out from under the bed on its hands and knees– and it was holding Isabella’s iguana, Arthur! “Looking for this?” he asked, a wicked grin creasing what Isabella thought was its face.
“What are you? Why do you have Arthur?” Isabella asked, grabbing for her iguana.
The knobby blob snatched Arthur back. Arthur’s scaly tail lashed in discomfort. “I’m the monster who lives under your bed,” the thing replied. “You call me… Boo!” The monster cracked itself up again. “Boo! Boo!” He almost fell over laughing, imitating how startled Isabella was.
“Boo Boo…. ok… Can I have Arthur back?” Isabella asked.
Boo Boo said, “Bring me a fingie to eat, and I’ll give the lizzie back.”
Isabella thought for a minute. She wasn’t sure what a fingie was, but she knew she needed to get Arthur away from Boo Boo and back into his tank. “Ok,” she said, and stuck out her hand to shake.
Boo Boo shoved Arthur into her grasp, and then gave her hands a stare. “Your fingies look tasty,” Boo Boo remarked. “They would be scrummy-dummy-umptious in Boo Boo’s tum!”
Isabella looked down at her hand. “Wait a minute…,” she asked, “Do you mean you want to eat a finger?”
Boo Boo said, “That’s what I said! Fingie! And now you have to bring Boo Boo one to eat tonight, or else Boo Boo will wait ‘til you’re asleep and eats one of your fingies!”
And with that, he disappeared back underneath the bed, leaving Isabella staring in shock.
Isabella couldn’t pay attention at school. She didn’t even line up to pet her best friend Eva’s new beagle puppy when her mom brought it for show and tell, even though it was adorable. All she could think about was fingies— fingers—and how to convince Boo Boo not to eat hers.
At afternoon recess, everyone was talking about how Jenny Rogers had tricked Bobby Singer into eating mud by telling him it was special chocolate pie. A light bulb went off in Isabella’s head. She wouldn’t bring him any fingers…. but Boo Boo would get his “fingies,” all right.
When she got home from school, Isabella tossed her backpack onto the hallway floor and went into the kitchen. Her dad was making her her favorite after-school snack, a peanut butter and banana sandwich with honey. When he was done, Isabella’s dad set the sandwich on a paper towel for her and started to leave to do a load of laundry.
“Dad?” Isabella asked. He turned around expectantly. “Could I have a carrot?”
Isabella’s dad looked at her, surprised. “Do you like carrots now?” he asked. Carrots were Isabella’s least favorite food– even when she was a baby, she would sceam if someone tried to scoop strained carrots into her mouth.
“They’re not for me, they’re for a monster that lives under my bed and says I have to bring him a finger to eat. I’m going to try to give him a carrot and trick him into thinking its a finger.”
Isabella’s father paused and stared at her as though he didn’t know whether to laugh or to be worried.
“I’m just kidding, Dad. I want to try them again,” Isabella said. “Maybe I’ll like them this time.”
Isabella’s father stared at her for a moment longer. “That’s very mature of you, Isabella,” her father replied. He handed her a handful of baby carrots from the fridge, and left to take care of the laundry.
Isabella hid the carrots in the pocket of her sweatshirt and hoped her plan would work.
She waited for bedtime. Once she had been tucked in and the house was quiet, she sat up in bed and whispered, “Boo Boo! Are you here?”
Within moments, Boo Boo dragged his lumpy greenish grayish body out from under the bed and hopped onto her quilt. “Fingies for Boo Boo! Give the fingies to Boo Boo!” he squealed.
Shushing him, Isabella pulled a carrot out of her pocket. She was relieved that it didn’t look too orange in the soft glow of the night light. She whispered, “Here is a finger. Will you stay under the bed and leave me alone now?”
Boo Boo grabbed the carrot from Isabella and inspected it closely. He bit down at the end of the carrot gently. When it crunched between his teeth, he spit it out, disgusted.
Boo Boo furrowed his brow and glared at Isabella. “This not a fingie! You try to trick Boo Boo? I eat YOUR fingies instead!” He bared his teeth, which, Isabella noticed, were razor sharp.
“No, no!” she said hastily. “I must have been confused– I thought it was a fingie . . . I mean, fingers!” she said. “I will find you one!” she said.
“Ok,” Boo Boo agreed grudgingly. Before he disappeared back under the bed, he gave her one last glare. “Bring Boo Boo the fingie tomorrow.”
Isabella couldn’t fall asleep that night. She lay awake wracking her brain and staring at the glow-in-the-dark star stickers stuck to her ceiling. In the morning her mother came in and shook her gently awake, and Isabella was surprised that she had even fallen asleep.
All day at school Isabella was distracted. She couldn’t even get excited about petting Eva’s adorable new beagle puppy when Eva’s mother brought him for show and tell.
But finally, during afternoon snack, Eva had another idea for how to trick Boo Boo.
When Isabella got home, she asked her father for a snack. “Could I please have string cheese today?” she asked. He reached into the fridge and got her one.
“Could I please have some extras?” she asked.
Isabella’s father gave her a surprised look. “You must be really hungry! Did you trade your lunch again today?”
For a second, Isabella debated what to tell her father. She decided to try again to tell him the truth.
“I need to trick Boo Boo, the monster who lives under my bed,” she said. “He said I cna’t have Arthur back unless I give him a finger to eat, so I’m going to give him string cheese to trick him.”
Isabella’s dad stopped cold. His mouth opened, as though he were going to say something, and Isabella thought he might be about to tell her how to get rid of monsters! But the just looked at her, and finally said, “Honey, no TV for awhile, ok?”
Isabella sighed, disappointed. “Ok, Dad,” she said. She would have to handle Boo Boo on her own.
That night, Isabella again waited under her mom and dad had tucked her into bed. “Boo Boo!” she called, “I have a finger for you.”
Within moments, Boo Boo was on her bed, eyes gleaming hungrily. “Fingie for Boo Boo! Give it, give it!” he squealed. Isabella handed him the strng cheese and held her breath.
Boo Boo grabbed the string cheese. He stuck out a long, lumpy tongue and licked the surface slurpily. His face lit up with excitement, and then, to Isabella’s horror, he squeezed the string cheese– which split into two pieces. Boo Boo’s face fell. “This squishy squashy isn’t a fingie!” he spat. “That’s it! I’m going to eat YOUR fingie!”
Isabella panicked. “No, wait!” she begged. “I must have made a mistake! Give me one more chance! I will bring you one tomorrow.”
“Ok,” Boo Boo agreed grumpily, “but no bring Boo Boo a trick again.” He slunk back to his home under the bed.
Isabella spent most of the night– and the next day– thinking of things that could pass for fingers. She ruled out a sliced-up banana, mini-hot-dogs and a miniature pencil. She just couldn’t think of anything. She was going to have to tell Boo Boo she couldn’t keep her promise.
When bedtime came around, Isabella didn’t call for Boo Boo. She hoped that maybe he would forget about wanting fingers. But Boo Boo did not forget.
“Where is Boo Boo’s fingie?” Boo Boo growled, crashing onto the bed. Drool dripped from his mouth.
“I don’t have any,” she said. “You can’t just take people’s fingers. People really like their fingers.”
“Too bad for you,” Boo Boo said, “because I’m going to eat yours!”
Isabella squished down the fear in her stomach, and looked Boo Boo straight in the eyes. “Why do you even want fingers?” she asked. “Can’t you eat something else?”
Boo Boo stared at her. “Because they’re so good,” he said. “Boo Boo heard you say it.”
“I’ve never eaten anyone’s fingers!” Isabella exclaimed.
“Boo Boo heard you say you love hand sandwich,” he repeated stubbornly, “and hands are made of fingies.”
Isabella was puzzled. After her brain churned for a few moments– which felt like a lifetime– she finally figured out the answer to the mystery.
“You mean a HAM sandwich! I do love to eat ham sandwiches,” she cried enthusiastically. “Hams and hands are different. Hams aren’t made out of fingers at all.”
To Isabella’s surprise, Boo Boo’s greeny grayish face turned red. “Boo Boo not stupid. Boo Boo has hard time hearing you from under the bed,” he muttered.
“Why don’t I make you a ham sandwich? We can share one. You’ll like it much more than you would like fingers.”
Boo Boo perked up at the idea of sharing a ham sandwich with Isabella, and nodded his agreement. “Boo Boo like to try ham sandwich.”
So Isabella and Boo Boo went to the kitchen. Very quietly, they made themselves a midnight snack.
And Boo Boo was happy. Like Isabella said, ham sandwiches are delicious.
Way tastier than fingies… er, fingers.