Fear of the Dark
My daughter asks me to check her closet, to see if anyone is hiding there.
“Where would someone be hiding?” I ask. “There’s no space in your closet.”
“Behind the clothes,” she says.
“How would someone get in there?” I ask.
“From the fire escape, through the gate.”
“Do I have to check?”
“You have to,” she says. “Otherwise, I can’t sleep in my bed. I’m too afraid.”
I go into her room and open the closet door. I see many clothes hanging from a bar, boxes on the floor, more boxes on a shelf above the clothes. “There’s no one here,” I say.
“Look behind the clothes,” she says.
I put my hand in between the hanging dresses. I’m starting to get a little frightened myself. I push the fabric aside and see only darkness. “No one,” I say, but I’m not 100 percent sure. I walk over to the window and look at the gate to the fire escape. I turn the knob to see if it’s latched. I pull on the bars. The gate doesn’t budge. I look through the window, but it’s too dark to make out anything. I can’t see the plants growing out there. A prowler might be staring me in the face, and I wouldn’t be able to tell.
I remember seeing a horror movie when I was in high school. In it, a woman is thought to have died, but she hasn’t really died. She just looks like she has died, and so she is entombed in the basement of a mansion. Later, she shows up alive, but she looks much the worse for being entombed. At that point, the whole mansion collapses into a pit.
As a teenager, trying to sleep, I was afraid that dead/alive woman, or a woman like her, would show up outside my bedroom door.
“Well, you can sleep with us tonight,” I say.
I don’t mean in bed with me and her mother. I mean she can sleep on cushions on the floor. It’s the most I’m willing to offer.
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