I peer quivering from under the sheets towards the half-opened door of my closet.

Stuffed with everything that was on the floor of my room when mother had me clean my room – Barbie dolls and a slinky, a partial set of building blocks, old sneakers, clothes dirty and clean.

And no matter where the bed sits in the room, that big white wooden closet door is within my view. The ever-present hall light that is supposed to act as a comforting nightlight shines across the floor in a triangular stream, illuminating only the outer reaches of the closet, leaving the inner sanctum shrouded in shadow – where “they” dwell. I can see only their shapes – clumps, unmistakable, vague.

My ears strain with my eyes. Is that whispering? Conspiring, moving about in my toys. In my dreams I can see them clearly. They are big, yet small; hairy, yet scaly; green, yet black. How many eyes? But it is the teeth and claws I fear most. What if they come out? My eyes are wide as I keep an all-night vigil, watching, watching….

They wait until my eyes flutter close from exhaustion, and then they slither out of the closet. Slowly, slowly, closer toward me, the unsuspecting child, innocently sleeping. A wholesome meal. They reach the bed; one reaches up to touch my hand. But wait – a stream of light breaks over the horizon. I stir, and the creatures scurry back to their den to hide among the toys and old shirts and socks without mates. As dawn floods its light into the room, I am safe, at least until tonight.

©Diana Thornton

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