Friday, August 1, 2014

Monsters in Suburbia

Are you ever afraid of what is outside in the dark? Me too. Let me tell you a story:

The lights were out. I was alone in bed. Something was loudly rustling outside in the dark. I got up, reached for the flashlight and jerked it out of the wall socket. Like any responsible adult,  I went to see what was there in the bushes. As I stood in front of the window, all my old childhood fears of someone outside in the dark came back.

As a child I often woke up towards morning to a rooster's haunting call. Because we lived in a suburb near L.A., the rooster seemed out of place and made me think that there was someone unknown, some kind of apparition, not a real rooster, filling the early morning sky with his call. Now, as the thrashing continued outside, I halfheartedly shined the flashlight through the window, barely lifting the curtain for a look. I didn't see anything so I hastily backed away, put the flashlight down, climbed into bed, and pulled the sheets up over my head.

The next day I walked in the backyard wandering about the Thrasher, as I had already named my visitor. The creeping fears of the night before seemed silly in the bright sunlight. All summer long I had seen evidence of wild things around our house because of the drought. The deer were eating our bushes in the front yard, we had hundreds of mouse holes pock marking our back hill, ants trailed through our house in search of water and food. Moles left their wandering mounds in our vegetable garden as they nibbled through the melons. Gophers pushed the dirt in pellet-sized balls around their holes. Yet none of these visitors made the noise of the Thrasher from the night before.

As I checked the backyard for the Thrasher, I saw a corner of the lawn had been pulled up, as if someone had peeled the dead skin of a bad sunburn. Earthworms struggled to find new paths back to their sanctuary. I rolled the earth back and tapped it down. It fit back together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

My Thrasher, though, must not have liked my gardening techniques because he was back the next night thrashing around. I thought once again of my childhood and how I had overcome my fears of the night. Instead of listening to the rooster's call, I had told myself stories with me as the hero. I overcame all sorts of obstacles and battled many bad guys until I fell asleep before morning. Tonight, as I went downstairs, I had my flashlight in hand and a purpose to my walk. Once again, I was the hero after the bad guy. I shined the light outside, but with determination this time. I caught a glimpse of two bright eyes looking back at me. A black mask surrounded the eyes. Then the brown and white furry flash disappeared into the night. 

Back upstairs, I jumped into bed and pulled the covers up to my chin, content to know that once again I had battled the scary visions and won.

How have you overcome your fears in the night?

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