Our house is an infusion of morning sun, all the shutters I closed as tightly as my own rib cage last night wide open and relieved. They hadn’t really reassured me anyway.
We got some more horrible news over the weekend, and then there was a break-in in our neighborhood (“A house just like yours!” blurted a friend caught up in the momentum of her story), and my dreams have leeched blackness from the night. In them, there is malicious stealth and violation, and the fear is thick enough to suffocate my lungs into waking. I lie awake at 2, at 3, at 4, straining for sounds I don’t want to hear. I am afraid all the bright day of night’s return.
I have never been afraid in this house before, and I had hung hopes on the theory that my nightmares were connected to place—the apartment building where the prostitute was murdered while we slept, the house harboring tales of demon possession, the bedroom with lace curtains which never stopped flickering after a neighboring house burned down. When I was a child, night was terror, my imagination weaving torture and shame into my already overburdened subconscious.
I am no longer a child though. I am years and continents removed from that darkness, and I had temporarily forgotten this way of breathing sharp through the wee hours. I had forgotten that closing the shutters only serves to trap me in with my fear. My fear… and hers.
My little daughter, my bouncing Sophie with the sunbeam hair and the bedroom still covered in 4th birthday balloons, is having nightmares too. She tells us the details, and I comfort and soothe and then wage midnight wars against her monsters as I lie sleepless and shaking from mine. If you want the raw truth, I lie there daring God to treat her differently than he does me. I rage through the stifling dark that if he fails to protect her precious mind too, she will turn out like me, and for all of the threat I want it to convey, it always ends as pleading. Please, please, please, leave me to brave my fear alone, just come through for her. Just let her have peace.
I have never been a fighter; my soul shrinks away from violence, and you would not believe the amount of Pepto-Bismol necessary to get me through any kind of confrontation. But this is something different. When it comes to protecting my daughters from harm, I would dash into battle brandishing the nearest available cooking utensil. I would face legions alone, no hesitation. I don’t know how to stand between the night and our minds though. I don’t know how to protect my little girl from the darkness of this imagination we share. I just wish I could lock the expansive light and serenity of this morning in with us when I close the shutters tonight.