I have long known the existence of monsters to be a fact, one most I associate with insist is untrue. The house is settling. Pipes make noises. Shadows cast by passing cars. All of these have been offered as excuses for what I know to be true. Monsters exist and I am related to one or more of them.
When I was two years old my family moved to Euless, Texas. My father got a job as a draftsman, designing steamrollers. Having moved to Texas from the Northwest my language was monitored closely to prevent the addition of any local colloquialisms to my expanding vocabulary. The first time I said “I’m fixin’ to go to school,” (school having two syllables in my near Southern drawl) my bicycle was taken away for an entire week. My mother stood firmly by my father as he observed my development.
As I grew my parents ensured I had only those experiences appropriate for my formative years. A day at Six Flags. A birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese. A baby brother to guarantee my self-esteem issues developed while I was young. By the time I was five years old only one childhood experience yet eluded me. The sleepover. Convinced a sleepover would cement a high standing amongst my friends, who had already had sleepovers, I began routinely pestering my parents.
The summer before I entered kindergarten they relented. Five to six of my friends were called; their parents promising their children would be present at the appropriate time. It was a Friday evening; we watched the Masters of the Universe starring Dolph Lundgren and ate taco-flavored popcorn. All was progressing well; none of my friends suffered the teary breakdown that so often accompanies the young staying over.
Stuffed into my bedroom, slowly drifting into sleep a phantasm suddenly appeared. Emerging from my closet a terrifying apparition in white with glowing eyes screamed into the room instantly expelling the contents of three young bladders. As we huddled together, damp and afraid, the specter fled from the room, shaking with laughter. The door left open we observed my mother and father, red-faced and laughing on a bed sheet, two flashlights on the floor.
As the years progressed and new terrors emerged I have often been comforted by the fact that the monster under the bed was just my mother or father, making sure I grow up right.