When I was little, there were always monsters under the bed. I could hear them; at least I thought I could. I could hear them moving about, and if I listened close enough I could hear them breathing. As soon as the light went out, something began rummaging around beneath.
I wasn’t afraid of the dark. I was afraid of the sounds, whether imagined or otherwise. The terror was real. I was sure each time the light went out, something was going to get me, eat me alive, and spit me out. I had no idea what was under the bed, but I had little doubt something lurked there.
During the day, I often would fearfully look under the bed and find absolutely nothing to be frightened of. I could see a dust bunny or two, stray cards from a game, a forgotten book, and perhaps some dirty socks. I never saw anything that would or could make those G0d awful sounds whenever night came and only the moonlight lit my room.
Having to pee in the night was the worst. I would wake up having to go so bad and knowing if I did, that monster might just get me before I made it to the toilet. The soft orange glow of the night light in the corner did little to dispel my fears. I didn’t have a lamp beside the bed in those days. The only way I could catch the monster in the act was to leap out of the bed, race for the switch plate on the wall near my bedroom door and flip the switch instantly illuminating the room with light. The only problem with that idea was that if I wasn’t quick enough the monster might reach its big hairy arms out from the dark recesses from underneath my bed and grab my ankles. If it did, I would be lost. Not only that, I would soak my panties in the bargain. I could feel my heart race as I tentatively placed a foot to the floor. The air in the room was cooler as it hit my bare leg than it had been under my toasty warm covers. I could have sworn I felt something swish past my leg and dart under the bed and I hiked my foot back under the covers.
“Lord, please help me get to the toilet!! I have to go! I am afraid!!” I prayed to myself. I really had to go now. I surely didn’t want to wake the whole house and have everyone know what a scaredy cat I was. I had to get a hold of myself. With determination I dropped both feet to the floor and raced hell bent for election to the light switch near the door, flipping on the light as I slammed into the wall. The room was instantly illuminated, and except for me completely empty. I breathed a shaky sigh of relief and raced for the bathroom to relieve myself once and for all.
The rest of the house was dark, but the bathroom was lit by the soft glow of the night light. I settled on the potty and steeled my resolve. “There is no such thing as monsters!! There are no such things as monsters!!” I chanted trying to convince myself. I washed my hands, splashed water on my face, and drank a small drink of water. I couldn’t prolong the inevitable any longer.
I silently went back down the hall to my room. I counted to three, switched off the light, and made a mad dash for my bed. I jumped in the bed, threw the covers over my head, and laid back down willing myself back to sleep. I had escaped the monster this time. I said the time honored prayer I uttered every night before I slept “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take and please keep me safe from whatever is under my bed!!” Relieved, I settled deep into my covers drifted off to sleep once more.
To a little kid like I was in those days monsters under the bed are very real. When I became a mother I read somewhere that being scared of the dark or of monsters under the bed was a rite of passage for childhood. Most everyone goes through it. At that tender age, the imagination is a wild and untamed beast. As I aged, I learned to tame my imagination and keep it at bay. Monsters no longer join the dust bunnies and stray socks that live under my bed. I am no longer afraid until next time when I give you another glimpse into the life of a trucker’s wife.