The screams of terror filled the night shocking him out of his bed. High pitched nightmare screams that could only come from a 6 year old child’s lungs. The word “Daddy” was screamed repeatedly as one long word “daddydaddydaddy” at decibels that almost had the neighbors dialing 911.
Amazed at his groggy agility he arrived at his child’s bed without stubbing a toe, and the comforting began.
“There, there, there,” he said over and again. The noise subsided to stifled breathing, gasps for air between crying exhales.
“There are monsters under the bed” cried the child, smearing snot and tears up and down her father’s t-shirt every time she moved or talked.
“Now now dear, there are no monsters allowed in this room after 10 o’clock,” said her father trying to apply a little humor to ease the tension.
She was shaking with fear and each word gasped out as a blurt of tears, “it…tried…to…pull…my…leg…”
“It’s going to be all right,” he said just holding her as she slowly calmed down.
After a few minutes with the lights on and paternal comfort she had calmed down enough to start drying the tears from her face. She sat back and drew her knees up to her chest.
“There’s a monster under there, I saw it” she said quietly.
“Now honey, you know there are no such thing as monsters” he said.
“There are too…vampires are real,” she said defensively.
“No. They’re not. They are just people with anemia…low iron in their blood so they tend to like their steaks a little…rare…raw. And that makes them appear a little pale and they tend to need a little more sleep than the rest of us…all day sort of.”
“Werewolves are real…Jimmy Connor’s cousin saw one in his own backyard,” she said.
“No. They’re not. Werewolves are just old men that REALLY need a shave and haircut, honey. You see, as grown men we all need to keep up proper grooming habits or we have hair growing everywhere…in our ears, our noses, our eyebrows get really bushy and our beards scraggly. And that makes us cranky and sad and we walk around grumbling and complaining to ourselves. Some people think we’re walking around growling and howling at the moon, but really all we need is a trip to the barber.”
“Ghosts are real…we saw it on TV”, she said trying to find support.
“No. They’re not. Ghosts are just old people wandering the dark halls of their homes because they can’t sleep the whole night through. They try to be nice by not turning on any lights and in the moonlight their paper thin skin can sometimes appear a bit…creepy. But really, it’s just Grandpa shuffling his way to the bathroom.”
“Clowns are real,” she said as a last defense.
“Yeah. Yeah, honey, they are. And they are very scary. But don’t worry baby, because all they can do is remind you of what can happen when you make poor life decisions. Always remember, develop a marketable skill and you will never turn into a clown.”
She had calmed down and was comfortably under her covers now. Her eyelids were getting heavy and her father tucked her in with a kiss on her forehead. She smiled drowsily and he quietly backed out of the room. As he got to the door and reached for the light switch her eyes opened.
“Wait, don’t close the door,” she said, “what was under my bed? You never checked.”
“Oh that? That was probably just a Killer Bob”, he casually replied.
Her eyes popped open, “What’s a Killer Bob?”
“It’s just a demon dust bunny,” he said, “with nasty pointy teeth”.
The color ran out of her face as she pulled her covers up tighter.
“Don’t worry though,” he said, “they only like to eat your covers, not little girls.”
He walked back to his own bed giggling quietly, reminding himself to start saving more money to cover all her therapy bills for when she grows up.