GROOOOOWR! GROOOOOWR! FSSH! FSSH! That’s the growly, fire-breathy terror of me, Elizabeth G. Hira. My name doesn’t ring a bell? Maybe you know me by my nickname. The other kids call me Lizard, because like a giant lizard I tower over them, breathe fire (or at least hot stinky breath from a garlic-heavy diet) and tear down Lego buildings and dollhouses leaving a trail of damage and debris in my path. GROOOOWR! FSSH! Also because I have eczema. Which makes the skin on my hands and forehead scaly and dry like a lizard. Though I don’t think it’s eczema, myself. My mom won’t admit it, because she doesn’t like to talk about him, but I’m pretty sure my Dad is Godzilla. Mom said the last time she heard from Dad he was in Tokyo and he’s since disappeared. Under the Pacific, I asked. Was he vanquished by King Kong or Mothra? Don’t be so imaginative, she says. But she doesn’t mean it. She likes to make up stories with me, but she says the topic of Dad is off-limits. Like a crime scene or her night time grape juice.

Anyway, I’ve had my fair share of monster encounters, just like Dad. Don’t believe me? You will. The most recent one just happened last week. Mom and I took a trip to the beach, since it was a sunny 86 degrees. She wanted to work on her tan, and I wanted to terrorize the sand castles. Mom said, “No way, Lizzie,” and gave me that stare that probably even put Dadzilla in his place. So I decided to practice beating up the waves instead. I wound up my fist, like I was twisting a crank on a windup toy, and was just about to let loose with a ginormous KER-SPLOOSH when I heard the screams. Kids were shouting the way they normally do when I terrorize them, but since I was terrorizing the lake that day I knew it wasn’t me. But then, what was it? Was the Lizard finally going to meet her Mothra? I bounded out of the ocean to meet my nemesis. “GROOOOWR!” I roared, “prepare to meet your dooooooom!”

So, I should explain before I tell you what I saw that when I say what I saw you aren’t going to be as impressed as you should. What you should do is imagine this thing I saw as huger than huge! I’m talking ginormous, egantic, just plain big! Okay, are you ready? So, what I saw was a beach ball. But remember! Huger than huge! Picture a beach ball as big as a boulder. As big as the moon! Then make it bigger. I wasn’t sure I was a match for it. I tried my usual GROOOOWR and FSSH method, but this beach ball blocked out the sun. And here’s the weird thing (yeah, weirder than a beach ball blocking out the sun): there were people absorbed in it, like, melted in it. Like it was a beach ball of quicksand or Velcro. It had picked up people and towels and umbrellas and smaller beach balls and surf boards and you won’t believe me but it grabbed and absorbed Cap’n Weiner’s Hot Dog Stand.

Actually, what I think it was was this thing a friend of mine played in a videogame once. You had to roll this ball around and it picked up all these things like staplers or pick-up trucks or gorillas and the point of the game was to grab as many of these things as you could. He was pretty good at it but I was better. But. Whoever was doing this one was the best. Ever. And it was heading for my Mom. “Mooom!” I shouted. She was lying on her beach towel, soaking rays in, unaware she was about to be soaked into a huge absorby beach ball.

I had no choice. I could only do one thing. I charged the beach ball, giving all my growly, hissy, ugly faces and time-out worthy behavior that I could throw at it. The ball just kept rolling. Finally, I just yelled, “Stooooop!” That did the trick. The ball stopped. Everyone absorbed in the ball stopped screaming and looked at me. And, uh, I honestly didn’t know what to do. After a pause, the center of the ball opened, to reveal a mouth like a black hole but with three or four other colors.

“Who dares interrupt the destructive path of the Beach Ball of Badditude!” it bellowed.

“Beach Ball of Badditude?” I said. “Really? Badditude?”

“Enough! Answer my question or be sucked into my rubbery badness!”

“I am Elizabeth G. Hira, but you can call me The Lizard!” I roared. “I am tall and breathe fire!”  I growled and breathed fire at the Beach Ball of Badditude making my hands into claws and swiping at its midsection. But not to close.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute,” The Beach Ball of Badditude said, rolling back slightly. “Is that eczema? Get away! Is it contagious? I don’t care! Get away! Get away!”

I looked down at my hands. My scaly hands. It wasn’t eczema, probably. It was lizard skin. But he didn’t have to know that. “Let them go! Let them all go or I’ll infect you with my hideous disease! GROOOOWR! Oooh! Oooh!” I held my hands really close to the Beach Ball of Badditude, threatening it with my so-called eczema.

“No! No! Okay! Fine! You win! I give! Uncle! Uncle!” There was a slzrupcfcleekle and all the people and beach towels and umbrellas and Cap’n Weiner’s Hot Dog Stand flopped onto the sand like a big bucket of flippy, floppy flounder. The Beach Ball of Badditude made a rude noise and psssshed away into the sky, shouting, “Keep away, just keep away from me!”

Everyone slowly got up, dusted themselves off and stopped. There was a sticky, snotty substance stuck to them which glistened and glooped off their hands like rubber cement. All at once, they all ran to the water to rid themselves of the Beach Ball of Badditude’s sticky spit.

All except an old, bald man, who wandered up to me. He looked both ways to make sure no one was listening, leaned in and said, “Confidentially, I have eczema myself. Stupid beach ball,” he chuckled. He ran into the water, shouting, “Thanks!” over his shoulder.

“It’s not eczema,” I shouted. “I’m part mutated lizard.”

I mean, really, was that so hard to understand?

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