Sleep, Dear Child


As a child, I couldn’t sleep in the darkness, the hall light near my room had to always be turned on, so I could find rest in my slumber… Daddy would come home and, trying to break me out of the habit, turn the light off, I’d awaken petrified and run to the safety of my mother and father’s bed, wrap myself in a cocoon of the security of my mother and father’s heartbeat lullabying me to sleep.  Sundays, age 8 or 9, all lights would be on,  TV blaring, my brother by my side, Mommy cooking, I could feel it creeping up on me, slowly at first as if warning me to be prepared, stinging me with its dark poison, until it began running through my veins, like a black widow spider paralyzing its prey, engulf me, swallow me whole; my mother had a music box, to try and dispel it I’d open it, ironically it played the song “Close To You,” I’d listen to it for hours, confused, I had no words to describe it to my mother, nor did I understand that something was wrong.  I assumed all of us were experiencing it, yet I was puzzled that no one else wanted to hear the music box.  Today, the black widow follows me all day, it has become my best friend and my worst enemy… There is no light radiant enough to banish it, no cocoon that could shelter me from it, no heartbeat loud enough to lullaby me to sleep, no song to distract me from its sting.  I still find myself trying to articulate it so those lucky enough to escape it can understand, but I can’t, there are no words.  And so I run all day from it as it follows me around until I’m too weary to continue and surrender to it as it grabs hold until it is satisfied at its conquest and leaves me alone for a moment to breathe…until the hall light comes back on and the child can sleep again…

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