Today I’m five. I don’t wanna get out of my bed, though, ‘cause as soon as I swing my legs over the side the monsters under the bed can grab my feet. Can’t even let a toe peek out of the covers, ‘cause they can bite it.
The light fairies are sneaking in, sweeping the dark away from the corners, but the inbetweeners who live in the shadowy places are still there. I can hear them, ‘cause they laugh as soon as they know I’m awake. They know I know they’re there, and they don’t even care. They know Mom and Dad don’t listen to me when I try to tell them. Mom and Dad don’t believe there are little things that look like spiders but with people eyes that look red in the dark, even though I’ve seen them. I see them every night.
I don’t know what lives under my bed. I can’t look, even in the day time when I know it’s sleeping, ‘cause I’m too scared. I know it’s bigger than the little spider people, and I know it wants to eat me all up, feet first til nothing is left but my head, ‘cause it’s too big for it to swallow but it’ll keep it around anyway. Maybe it has a whole wall full of little girl heads with bloody bitten necks, like trophies, so it can remember every single one it got to eat up. I bet their moms and dads didn’t listen to them either.
Today I’m five and that means tomorrow they can’t come back anymore, so they want me to get out of bed, right now, so they can drag me under and no one will ever know what happened to me. I don’t want people to be sad I disappeared. They should’ve listened to me though, I’m not a baby, I know what I see when they turn the lights off.
Dad got tired the other night when he turned on my nightlight and I begged him to leave the door open and the hallway light on. “Don’t be a baby, Sally,” he said. That hurt my feelings so bad I didn’t even say good night, and he just walked away. They came out then, right away, as soon as he closed the door. They laughed. They whispered at me, “Baby baby baby baby”, until I threw my pillow at the corner and screamed at them to go away. Daddy came back and yelled at me, and I cried myself to sleep. I’m not a baby. Just because I don’t wanna get eaten up doesn’t mean I’m a baby.
The light fairies fight the shadowy people. They whisper to me sometimes too, when they come with their little sparkly brooms to sweep the dark away. Their whispers sound like bells, they tinkle and tickle my ears ‘cause they sit right on them when they whisper, they’re so tiny. They say that five means alive, that if I can be okay til five on the day I turn five I get to stay alive. The darkens can only take you when you’re little and five is too big. They can’t fight five year olds ‘cause they’re too chicken.
Right now my light up clock says it’s four-thirty, in the morning. No one else is up yet, but it doesn’t matter ‘cause they couldn’t help me anyway. One more half hour and I’m safe and sound and I can sleep in the summer time without a blanket ‘cause it won’t matter if my feet hang off the side of the bed. Even though I could do that, I don’t think I wanna. I don’t think I can sleep with my feet off the bed ever. What if there are just different monsters that come when you’re older? Just ‘cause these ones have to go away doesn’t mean others won’t come.
The light fairies are lining up on the windowsill now and their brooms aren’t sparkly, ‘cause they can’t sweep up the dark yet, it’s still too early. I know they want me to make it, which is nice, to have someone on your side.
I’m starting to get a little more scared ‘cause if the monsters are running out of time I think that’ll make them fight harder to get me. I’m gonna sit in a tiny little ball, the smallest tiniest little ball I can make, right in the middle of my bed. Those kids who cover their heads with the blankets are crazy because I don’t want bad guy teeth or claws or tentacles or anything to grab me by surprise. I think they would win, if they surprised me, ‘cause I wouldn’t be ready to fight or be smart, I’d just be screaming and crying and gone.
Four forty-seven. I keep sniffling ‘cause I feel like I’m gonna cry, but it’s not because I’m a baby. I think a grown up would cry too, if they knew something wanted to eat them, ‘cause it would be scary and sad, to not wake up and get to be five, or twenty-five. That would always be scary and sad, it doesn’t matter if you’re a kid. That wouldn’t make you a baby.
They’re starting to creep out of the shadows. I can see them, like stupid bugs on skitter legs, they’re smiling with their big teeth and their dumb scary red eyes aren’t blinking, ‘cause they don’t wanna lose me if I try to sneak away. Something is moving under my bed and it sounds like snakes, and I can’t help it if I scream a little.
The fairies are all standing up now, they’re holding their brooms like swords and they’re making noises. I think they’re trying to yell, trying to help me scare away the scary, but they’re so small it just sounds like mice when they squeak. It’s nice, though, that they’re trying. There’s an arm but it’s like a shadow, coming from under my bed, and it’s reaching up and trying to find me in the middle. One of the fairies jumps out of line, it flitters at the shadow, and it swings its broom right through it. There’s a growl and my bed shakes and the shadow poofs away into ribbons. The fairy’s already back in line and they all look alike, so I smile at all of them and whisper thank you. I don’t wanna give away where I am if the shadow thing comes back.
The clock says four fifty-nine. It feels like my whole room is holding its breath and I am too. There’s bubbles in the darkness, like when Dad didn’t let the paint dry on the bathroom wall all the way and Mom said the steam got into it when he took a shower. They keep popping and spilling more dark but even while it’s spreading, the light is growing brighter. The fairies brooms are sparking like fireworks and they start flying in circles around my head, and now I can laugh because the clock says five o’clock!
I throw off my blankets and jump out of bed. I jump as far away from it as I can ‘cause even though they’re gone I still don’t wanna be anywhere near the underneath part. “Today I’m five!”
Does anyone else remember how terrifying your bedroom in the dark could be when you were five, or is that just me?
The always engaging Eric Storch’s brainchild Master Class (http://sinistralscribblings.com/2013/01/15/room-master-class-2013-2/) was prompted this week by the first line from Room by Emma Donoghue, chosen by last weeks winner
Marian from Runaway Sentence (http://www.runawaysentence.com/2013/01/a-nest-is-nest.html) – she writes some really fantastic poetry, by the by…
Written to the soundtrack of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, who sometimes sounds as if he is the scary thing hiding under your bed…