I never believed in monsters. Even as a very young child I was concerned with authenticity. I hated Dr. Suess stories because they were filled with things that were made up. When I learned new things I was constantly asking if it was a real thing, or made up thing. Monsters were not real. Mean people… crazy people… bad people… those were real. Those were the “monsters” that frightened me.
My imagination supplied a monster, in the form of a “bad man” who would come into children’s bedrooms at night armed with a machete. He would come in silently, and with his razor sharp knife he would chop off anything that wasn’t under the covers. Feet sticking out? Chop! Arm uncovered? Chop! Head?? That was the worst. Every night I would get into bed, I’d remember the machete man, and I’d cover myself head to toe. Then I’d remember my sister. I’d look across the room, and there she was… arms, legs, head… everything sticking out, all over. I don’t know how she ever survived before I was born. But I knew my responsibility, and every night I’d run across the room and cover every bit of her, being careful to tuck the covers under, nice and secure. Then back to my own bed, under the blanket, and we both survived another night.
My two brother in the next room were on their own.
Jump ahead about 20 years… my sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was successfully treated, and she’s alive and well today, but because of the tumor she had to have a lot of cat scans, MRIs, and whatever other kinds of tests they wanted to do to her head. I was driving her to an appointment one day for an MRI, and she was noticeably nervous. I did my best to assure her that everything would be fine. The tumor had consistently gotten smaller with every test, so surely there was nothing to worry about. That wasn’t the problem, she told me. The reason she was nervous was because she suffered terribly from claustrophobia, and MRIs were stressful for her. I was shocked. How did I not know this about my sister? She said that she had always been ashamed of it, so she kept it a secret. Then she told me how it all started…. when we were kids she used to cover her head with the blankets in her sleep. Every night she would wake up in a panic, trapped and gasping for air.
So, yeah, I guess that was my fault. But on the other hand, she’s got all 4 limbs and her head is still attached, so I’d say she owes me.
(and no, I didn’t tell her)