Something Under the Bed

I don't know how it was for you, but when I was a little girl, there were monsters under my bed. I'm not making this up; I know without a doubt that it's true.

I'm not sure exactly who first told me about the monsters, whether someone told me or it came to me through personal observation, by using all my senses at once (possibly just coming to my senses--it happened once, honest! I swear!), but I knew for certain they were there before I ever went to Kindergarten the first time (a long story, but I got kicked out for being nine days too young the first time). The point I'm trying to make here, uneloquently, I might add, is that there were absolutely, positively, definitely, monsters under my bed. If you can accept this fact, then we can move forward with the telling of my tale.

I don't know what the monsters under my bed were named. I only know they were there and when I had been tucked in and kissed goodnight with the admonition, "Don't let the bedbugs bite!" (as if this could in any way enhance a sleep experience), the monsters started honing their craft on me. I'm not sure if they were licking lips with particularly juicy tongues, tasting me in theory before they got to taste me for real, or not. They were doing something down there, though. I know this because as soon as the room was dark and I was alone, that's when I had an overwhelming need to go to the bathroom, and surely it must have been caused by the power of suggestion, by me hearing something moist, hence my assumption that these wet-mouthed monsters were licking their chops, and anticipating a taste of me (and I was a bony little kid, no meat on me at all. I don't know what they could possibly have wanted).

The problem with this trick of theirs was, of course, that once I started thinking about it, there was no escape, I had to go to the bathroom. I tried to think of other things, to convince myself I didn't really have to go to the bathroom, but the more I thought of other things, the stronger the pressure from my bladder. I would close my eyes and cover my head, and try to convince myself that I didn't really have to go potty, but...I still had to go potty. I held it in for a long, long time. Sometimes I'd even convince myself I could wait until morning, or if I fell asleep for long enough, I could slip out later in the night and catch them sleeping, thus escaping their clutches. Just when I thought I could wait...that's when they switched to their next trick.

You guessed it. The monsters had a band. You see, the thing with this band was that the monsters only played percussion instruments. Isn't that annoying? I could hear the pounding--regular, rhythmic, pretty darn fast, too. My parents tried to trick me into thinking it was my heartbeat, but even as a kid I had some grasp of anatomy and I knew my heart was not in my ears, but was located somewhere under my ribs, right in the middle. It was not my heart pounding, it was the monsters' percussion band, and it was persistent. The harder I covered my ears, the louder they played. How I survived their onslaught, I will never know.

Of course, I could only take this torture for so long, and eventually I did determine that I would have to go to the bathroom to get away from the horrible band, to get away from the subliminal licking noises, to go to a room where I could turn on the light and the monsters couldn't come out (monsters, you see, are allergic to light). How does a little girl escape big hairy monsters? you ask. I can tell you. She gets a running start. I would stand up carefully, grip my headboard for support and I would turn, hold on tight, push my pillow to the side, and then...then I would run, just like an Olympic athlete, that's how determined I was. And when I got to the end of the bed, I would leap, so gracefully, so far. And then I'd scurry right out the door, into the hallway and the safety of light. When I went to the bathroom, I sat on the toilet for a long time because every single time I did this, I forgot that I would need to get back into my bed. It's a lot easier to get a long leap going off a bed than back onto one, because you have to jump up to get on the bed.

At this point, my parents would inevitably call up the stairs and ask me why I was playing when I was supposed to be sleeping. I would always be testy when I answered. How could they accuse me of playing? I wasn't playing, I was merely going to the bathroom. What was wrong with them? They would tell me I was making banging noises, but come on now! We're talking monsters here. We're not talking tea parties, we're talking living, breathing, hungry monsters. These complaints complicated my plans, not that I had any. They wanted me back in bed and they wanted me there now. I would wash my hands for an extra-long time (monsters hate the taste of clean, although I apparently didn't make that connection when bath time rolled around), then I would walk ever so slowly back to my room, and my parents would be watching impatiently from the bottom of the stairs, so I couldn't just wait in the hallway and sleep there, I had to go to bed.

I opened my door slowly and peered inside it. No monsters were ever out when I made this visual sweep of the room, they were much too crafty for that. I stepped in and closed the door, then I would try to trick them by announcing loudly that I was going downstairs to watch television with my parents, then I'd open the door and close it. I only pretended to leave. I would take a deep breath, summon all my strength and run as fast as my little legs could carry me. And suddenly, I'd find myself in my bed. I scrambled to pull my covers tightly around me (monsters can't open covers), and the drums were back, but...slowly they would grow tired of playing, and it would get softer and slower...and then the sun was shining in my window and I was awake and alive. The monsters hadn't eaten me, but I knew they'd be back.

Eventually, the monsters stopped visiting me. I found that when cleaning my room, I could shove large quantities of clothes and toys (and whatever other debris I was in trouble for leaving out) right under the bed! Then there was no room for monsters any more. I had outwitted them. My mother did not exactly approve of this behavior and, try though I might, I couldn't convince her it was a health measure. I would take everything out and put it in a pile on the floor so she could see that it was clean under there, and as soon as she saw that, I would begin shoving everything back where it belonged. I haven't actually outgrown this habit, which is why monsters do not live under my bed to this very day.

The End

Copyright 2002 Lisa Christine Svenson