The Dark and me

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

An 8 year-old girl battles with the darkness in her room.

I wake up. "Don’t open your eyes. Sleep!" I try to suck in all the air and let it out, so it sounds like someone is sleeping, deeply and soundly. In vain. A heavy metal door has fallen shut in my chest, murdering my breath. "Just keep it up for a while," I beg myself, "just lie here, still, with your eyes closed. Eventually, the dark will pass and with the first light of dawn, you can get up. You're free!" Then a thought makes me shudder. What if some terribly deformed psycho is staring at me right now, inches from my face, directing his rotten breath at me? What if he’s under the bed, waiting for my foot to stick out? What if he’s behind the billowing curtain? Even worse, what if some creature from the dark, like the black bird that picks children's eyes out, is just waiting to attack? My grandma says it has ears that hear everything and eyes that see everything and that it comes for children who don't sleep when they should. I listen for any noise in the room. I count one, two, three. Nothing. Just the buzzing of dimmed light from the corridor and the sporadic cracking of the walls. With all my courage, I open my eyes. My room lies still, like the dark is waiting for me to make a move. "What do you want from me? Why can’t you let me go back to sleep? Why do you do this to me every night?" my mind yells into the dark. It doesn't answer. I try to surround myself with my blanket. My grandma made it for me. It's soft and yellow, like the afternoon sun at the playground. I tug it under my body from all sides, so it becomes a castle wall, but my feet are freezing. I keep twisting them, rubbing them against the blanket. In vain. I examine the room. My eyes poke into every dangerous nook and cranny. Nothing. Only this dead stillness. My eyes come to rest on my doll, sitting on her swing by the window. She can sing “Over the rainbow,” when I push a button on her back. I do that every night so I can go to sleep. I check the clock: 12.15 am. It’s a Mickey Mouse clock. Tick tock. My mom gave it to me along with the singing doll and the twinkling globe night light. "They'll protect you from the dark," she said. "The light will always shine for you and the doll will always sing for you and the clock will tell you when it's time to get up." The night light is on, but its warm, orange glow now flickers like there's evil life dancing inside of it. I contemplate if I should get up and let the doll sing, but the doll's cheery red lips now mock me, almost greedy, like she could be a child-eating doll. I feel alone. Abandoned. Everyone is sleeping but me. Everyone is warm but me. I’m jealous of them. I hate them for not being afraid and for not caring that I am. Tick tock, goes the clock. Deep down, I've come to suspect that the reason the rest of my family sleeps so soundly at night is that they must send their monsters of the dark to my room. I don't understand. I'm the smallest and youngest. Why? Don't they love me? Is that a test of my courage? That's something my dad would do, maybe my brother. They always want me to do things I don't want to do. Like my brother, he always puts me in the goal when we play soccer. And grandma? After all, she's the one with connections to the black bird. But not my mom. She loves me. I'm sure of that. I dig my fingers into my grandma's blanket as the clock goes again: Tick tock, toward my execution. It's a conspiracy! I'm suddenly convinced that my dad, brother and grandma want to kill me for some deep dark evil reason. Tick tock. I need my mom. Only my mom can protect me. All I have to do is sneak by my dad unnoticed because if he hears me come into the bedroom, he'll get very mad and yell at me. Much worse, he'll yell at my mom for being a bad mother: "The kid has to sleep in her own bed! I don't want a cry baby in this house!" And then he'll ask me: "Are you not ashamed that the other kids in school know that you never stay for sleepovers, because you're scared to sleep without your mother?" Tick tock. I try. I do! Everyday, I tell myself to have courage, but when the dark arrives, all my courage evaporates and I'm left with infinite dread. Tick tock. I jump up and run. I don't look right or left, I run. I stop at the door to my parents bedroom, my breath reeling. I know I have to lift the latch when I open it, so the door doesn't screech. But when I touch the handle, it feels so cold and hard, like there's no life on the other side of it. Suddenly I'm seized with panic. I'm paralyzed. I creep inside my body, like it's a shell, an indestructible armor, lifeless, so the dark won't see me and pass by, because it can't kill what isn't alive. I'm inside of me now, sitting on my tongue, right underneath that arch where the big, dark chute falls down into my body. I'm afraid to go any further. I'm still out of breath, but I beg my body to keep my mouth shut, to not let anyone in, to not let anyone see me. I think of my mom, her warm body, her smell of perfume and momness, her hands touching my hair. Now! I press down the knob and lift it up. The door opens with a soundless draft of air. An air of silent peace, not silent torment. I sink to my knees. Like a little panther, paw by paw, I inch my way toward the big black shadow of my parents' bed. My mom always sleeps on the right, my dad on the left. I'm lucky. Although my eyes can't see, my experience can and the shape of the bigger lump of black on the left tells me, my dad has his back turned to my mom. The small, soft lump on the right, that's my mom. She's turned toward me. I fight the urge to get up and run to her. The last inches feel like crawling on a sheet of ice in the Antarctic, hiding from polar bears. On cue, my dad lets out a growling snore that echoes throughout the house. For a moment I hate him. I think of him as a greedy polar bear that has dragged my poor mom into his lair after murdering her child with the aid of the monsters of the dark. I'm at the edge of the bed. I lift the blanket an inch to slowly slide my body underneath. I crawl up, arms first, then my body and lastly I push my feet off the floor. Underneath the blanket, I inch my feet toward my mom's. Mine are so icy, I'm afraid to touch hers just yet, so she won't startle and wake up my dad. Lying there, I notice that my whole body is frozen. All over, the tiny hairs stand straight, like soldiers on alert. Then my nostrils catch a whiff of my mom's smell. I can't help it. I'm overcome with love for her. I press my body against hers. Like a piece of rubber, I glue and squeeze myself to her, it hurts. And then it happens. My mom turns to me and her arm slides around me. To my surprise I see that her eyes are closed. She's sleeping. Yet, I know I see her smile. A smile that makes me doubt that there are any monsters in this world at all. I lie back, feeling my body melting into the warm sheets. I close my eyes and take my mom's hand. I hold on to it, imagining I'm holding on to my sleep and how it would feel, so soft and peaceful....

I open my eyes. The sun shines into my face. It is 6 am. I have 14 hours.


Submitted: May 19, 2007

© Copyright 2022 boehringer28. All rights reserved.

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