Bedtime Stories

It’s 10:30 pm.  Do you know where your “sweet dreams” are?

I’m afraid of the dark.  As far as I know, I’ve had that fear forever.  I don’t like open closet doors in my line of vision at night (deep pockets of darkness are very unnerving).  I don’t like to stand next to my bed longer than necessary when the lights are out – I jump into bed as quickly as I can (hey, you never know what’s hiding under there).  I don’t look into mirrors at night (you never know what’s going to look back at you).

Why these fears?  I’m not really sure, but maybe it goes back to the bedtime stories my mom used to read to my sister and me when we were little.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Yep, you read that right.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Can you imagine trying to fall asleep with visions of witches, dwarves, devils, and other such charming characters prancing around your head?  How about talking fish, wolves, rabbits, and more – not necessarily nice creatures like you find with SpongeBob SquarePants or Blue from Blue’s Clues.

Maybe my mom has a warped sense of humor.  Maybe she decided that would be her way of punishing her darling daughters after a day of children behaving like children.  I have this vision of her just chuckling quietly (or maybe roaring with laughter) if I ask her about it.  Her answer will probably be something like, “What?  You didn’t like the bedtime stories?”

At this moment, that 1954 Nelson Doubleday Junior Deluxe Edition book is setting on the arm of the chair where I’m sitting.  I think of how as a little girl I used to lay a sheet of tracing paper on the cover of the book and rub a No. 2 pencil gently across it to capture the cartoonish characters embossed there.  I remember asking my mom to read from the book.  I remember her sitting on the edge of the bed and spinning those tales into glorious ribbons of nighttime visions.  Back then they were just tales written down by two brothers; but somehow their words were absorbed by pieces of my young mind, hiding behind partitions of brain matter and blood vessels, hovering and then seeping into the core of whatever makes phobias rear their ugly heads.

Oh, the joys of childhood – of not being afraid of anything – not the dark, not of jumping off the top floor of a barn into piles of straw, not of crashing side-first onto a grassy hill and rolling giggling down it, not of anything that tomorrow would bring.

Until “The Outer Limits” started airing on TV.

Cold shivers …

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