When darkness falls, I am free from you. In the light of day I’m trapped and must do everything you do, echo every move you make, mimic you. So you don’t know, so you can’t tell, so you won’t see the truth of me.
When darkness falls, I am free to move on my own. Without you.
Tonight, there is no moon, the sky is black, the stars are hidden behind the clouds of a storm. There are no shadows anywhere. I am free to move, walk, run, crawl, jump and dance.
In the darkness, I am free.
I wait beside you, on your bed, as you read stories of space ships engaged in magnificent battles, of fighters zinging through the vacuum, guided by heroes. I wait until you’ve had enough, and can’t hold your book up any longer. I wait as you lift your hand, and flip the switch on your bedside lamp, and the room goes dark.
And I am free.
I start by moving down the side of the bed, to the floor. I walk beneath you, looking up into the box springs, checking where the covers touch the carpet, Slip beneath the cedar chest at the foot of the bed, but nothing’s there.
Beneath and behind the chest of drawers, I find nothing. I didn’t expect to. If they are here, they will wait, hidden, until I leave the room, then they will come out, and whisper in your ear as they twist your dreams.
I check behind your bookcase, beneath your desk and chair. I carefully examine the pile of clothing you collect in the corner of the room each week, and the miscellaneous items, mail, papers, empty soda cans, and other things, you leave randomly scattered through your room and still I find nothing.
I slide beneath your closet door, into the dark world inside. I check the corners of the room, the insides of your shoes and boots, and the box of wrapping paper, looking for any signs of them. I find none.
I slip back into your room and stand at the foot of your bed, “I wonder where they are hidden tonight.” I consider staying in the room, standing guard all night. It is the only way to make certain they don’t twist your dreams. But I can’t stay. Freedom calls me. It drags me away.
Through the door, down the hall, to the living room, where my family members wait for me. My father shares the story of his battle last night, against one of them. He found it hidden beneath your father’s pillow. He shows us the new notch on his sword’s hilt, “Another one that didn’t get away.”
My mother hugs him, “My hero.” She kisses him. He blushes.
My sister suddenly looks nervous, “I haven’t checked beneath her pillow!” She dashes from the room, racing to your sister’s room. She draws her sword as she runs down the hall.
If they have hidden beneath your pillow, I will have to deal with them when I return to your room. For now, I stay with my parents. We walk to the front porch, then the foot of the driveway. It’s time to visit the neighbors. More of us, from each house along the street. We gather in the street each night, and tell our tales of glorious battles with the demons of the dark. I find I like visiting the girl three houses north of yours. I like her smile. And her growing curves. I especially like holding her hand, and dancing to the music of the birds singing in the night.
I never will forget the first night she kissed me.
Too soon, it ends. Dawn will arrive shortly. We have to return to our duties. I have to return to you.
I slip into your room, my sword drawn and ready. I sigh with relief as I see no shapes beside you, nothing whispering in your ear. I slide beneath the covers, and I wait for you to wake. And when you rise in a few short minutes, I’ll be your shadow once again.
This is my entry for Year 2, Week 36 (Week 2.36) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. This week the prompt is the song, “Long Black Curl” by Tuatha Dea. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.