[Author’s note : I wrote this story on Thursday, 08 April 1999. I share it tonight for someone I know living with monsters that haunt her heart and soul. I wish I could fight them for her.]
Once upon a time, there was a little girl. I do not recall her name. I only know she was young, about four years old. She was a pretty little girl, with curly strawberry-blond hair, and ice blue eyes. But she didn’t really look like Shirley Temple…
This little girl didn’t like to go to bed at night. She would scream at her Father, “But, Daddy! The monsters in the dark! They’ll get me! They’ll eat me up!”
And she wouldn’t go to bed. Her father would sit in his big rocking chair, and she would climb into her Father’s lap, and he would rock her to sleep. When she was asleep, he would carry her to her bed, and carefully tuck her in. “Good night, precious. Sleep tight,” he would say. Then, he would kiss her cheek, and go do the things that Father’s do after everyone else is asleep.
Eventually, the Father became tired of having to rock his daughter to sleep every night. After hundreds of nights in a row, wouldn’t you? So, the Father decided it was time for his daughter to learn to go to sleep in her own bed.
But the little girl refused. “Daddy, the monsters! The monsters in the dark! They scare me! I can’t sleep knowing they are there!” So, the Father had to tell his daughter about the monsters in the dark. What they were, and where they came from. And how to not be afraid of them.
So, he got his little girl into her bed, and tucked under her covers. And he sat down on the side of her bed, and held her hand, and told her this story…
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was afraid of the monsters in the dark. And she would not sleep at night, because they scared her so. So, her Father, who was not a wise man, but who knew all about monsters, told her, “You don’t have to be afraid of the monsters, and tonight, I’ll stay up with you, and I’ll show you why.”
So, that night, when it was time for the little girl to go to bed, her Father tucked her in, and then sat down on the edge of her bed. “Let’s just wait here, and we’ll wait for the monsters to show up.”
And the little girl lay in her bed, and waited. And she watched the shadows on her bedroom walls. And on her bedroom ceiling. And she listened to all the noises in the dark.
And she sat up in her bed, and pointed, “There, Daddy! There’s a monster!” And her Daddy looked at the monster in the dark, resting on her bedroom wall. “Oh, precious,” he said. “That’s just a shadow. And it’s certainly not a shadow to be afraid of. Why, look.” And he stood up, and walked across the room. And he picked up her little, pink Teddy bear. And when he did, the monster on the wall moved, and went away.
“See, precious. It’s not a monster at all. It’s just a shadow from your Teddy bear. It’s just Teddy, standing on your dresser, keeping watch over your room. Making sure the monsters of the dark don’t come in. Making sure you’re safe while you sleep.”
And the little girl looked at the wall, where the monster had been. And she looked at her Teddy bear. “Oh, Daddy! I didn’t know it was Teddy. Please put him back, so he can watch me while I sleep!”
And from that night on, the little girl knew that the monsters in the dark were just shadows on the walls. And that they weren’t anything to be afraid of.
[Good night, young one. Sleep tight. And know the monsters are not real. Though sometimes they can be very frightening, I know.