Who knows what terror lurks in the minds of kids alone in their bedrooms at night? The shadows know.
Imagination is a wonderful thing, except when it’s dark and you’re alone.
My corner bedroom was perfect. My side and back windows kept me abreast of the goings on in Vail’s backyard, anyone trespassing on Mr. Weaver’s hayfield or in our poison sumac clubhouse, and air traffic at the nearby airport.
Dad made a built-in desk (rarely used for homework) in the corner next to my closet, and Mom picked out pale-blue curtains and bedding. My favorite stuffed animal, a sleeping gray poodle curled-up on his side, lay by my pillows. A porcelain figurine of a fancy lady, with glued-on rows of lacy ball-gown and a wide-brimmed hat, sat on my dresser (the same dresser that previously housed my worm collection). In the evening, I’d enviously watch blinking lights in the sky, signaling airplanes taking off for or returning from faraway adventures.
My wonderful room turned terrifying when Mom and Dad turned off their bedroom light, and my protectors fell asleep on the job. Once in a while, I convinced David to sleep in my room or have me in his room. I entertained him with made-up stories and songs. His favorite song began with the haunting meolody of White pony, white pony come galloping home. My verses underwent changes, because I’d forget them, but the chorus remained the same. Unfortunately, it was difficult to keep David awake. He could fall asleep as soon as he closed his eyes, which never failed to amaze me. After the fifth or sixth time that I sort-of-gently shook him awake, he tended to get grumpy.
Long after everyone in the house was dreaming, my eyes remained wide open; watching and listening. On nights David slept alone, and the house made too many night noises, and bright moonlight prevented me from blending into the wall against my bed, I bravely undertook my crawl of desperation.
I slid from my covers and tip-toed to the door, where I dropped to my belly. If I stood up and walked down the pitch black hallway, hairy hands would grab me before I made it to the safety of my parent’s bedroom. I slowed my breathing to the shallowest of breaths. Inch by inch, I silently crept. The sharpest-eared boogey-man prowling the living room or sneaking up the basement stairs would never hear me. My biggest worry was the thumping of my heart. It wouldn’t stay quiet. I couldn’t be sure if it just sounded loud inside my ears or if it really made a discernible pounding.
Upon crossing the threshold of my parent’s room, my fear level dropped down a notch. Gently, I slithered under the covers on Mom’s side, and nestled on three inches of unoccupied mattress. If lucky, my presence was a morning surprise.
One particularly fear-filled night, luck was not with me. My cranky parents escorted me to my bed and ordered me to stay put. And I did, until I figured they were back asleep. I repeated my crawl of courage. This time I continued past Mom’s side to the foot of the bed, where I lay on the floor rolled up in the end of their bedspread thrown over the footboard.
I was a morning surprise for Dad when he almost stepped on me.
Lessons learned: Don’t do anything too traumatic to David during the day, so he’ll let me sleep with him at night. The lesson of going to sleep as soon as I was sent to bed (while the protectors were still awake) never crossed my mind.
Related post: Pandemonioum Trail/Basement Gorilla
Now it’s your turn: Were you afraid of the dark?
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