My eyes snap open… did I hear something? I lay still, not breathing, waiting for a creak, a footstep, the sound of breath- anything.
My seven year-old eyes adjust as I peer through the darkness, across the hallway into my parent’s room. From where I lay in my bed I can see the outline of the chest of drawers in their room. Directly across from the dresser, my parents are sleeping soundly in their bed. I can hear their light snoring. My two brothers are asleep in their bunk beds, and as I take stock of the sights and sounds of the house, I can hear one of them rustle around in bed for a better position. All is as it should be… or is it?
I pull my blanket over my head, a child’s measure of surefire protection against monsters and all things that go bump in the night. My breath feels hot against my face as I finally expel the air I have been holding. Now that my vision is gone, my ears seem to catch even more sounds. I can hear the clock in the living room as it ticks reliably. My ears pick up the bathroom faucet as it slowly releases one lone drop of water into the porcelain sink. I feel my muscles relax and I am unaware that I was even tensing them.
What was that? A soft footstep in the hallway. A hand lightly trailing against the swirled plaster on the hallway wall. My father’s snores keep their steady pace, but my heartbeat has passed that pace and already caught back up with it again. I hear the footsteps again and my thoughts are at war with themselves. Do I scream out so my dad can grab the baseball bat beside the bed, or do I try to sneak into my parents room to quietly wake them up? Neither option matter because my body is frozen. I am now screaming in my head, willing for my voice to emerge from my throat, but my vocal chords are not listening. Time seems to stand still. I don’t hear anything.
I wait. The sound of silence envelops my ears through the soft fibers of the blanket that I am clutching around me for dear life. Nothing. It must have been my imagination. Slowly I lower the blankets away from my face, stunned as the cool air meets my face. As I turn my head, the man in black going through my parent’s drawers meets my eyes and raises one finger to his lips…
… and this plays on repeat a couple of times a year, all the way into adulthood. Does anyone else have a reoccurring dream or nightmare?