Things That Go Bump & Smile In The Night
Kathleen A. Lawrence
When I wasn’t tall enough for the roller coaster
every night I pretended to be sleeping in the bottom bunk
closing my eyes tight until my siblings snored in chorus
then I crept to the closet to let my monster friend out to play.
I never dared tell anyone because I knew they would say I
was fibbing or being dramatic. My brothers would have led
a search to find him and bring the creature in with plastic buckets,
hockey masks, wiffle bats, Dragnet handcuffs, and makeshift nets.
He wasn’t much taller than me, but a lot rounder, not at all slimy
and very orange like an overinflated basketball, covered in shag rug.
We were always quiet and sweet and whispered so as not to wake
my sister, the tattletale, or scare my little brother who didn’t like
orange very much or things that lived in the closet, or moved his shoes.
My monster friend never really talked, but just wanted me
to read him back to sleep because my brothers and sisters
were in his room and sharing his closet and they really scared him.
I think sometimes he was just lonely and wished he could read.
He especially liked when I read to him “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”
and squeezed him, just like my mom did when she got to that part
reading to all of us lined up in bed, 3 to the left and 3 to the right of her.
I almost could hear him squeal and giggle when I’d pinch his sides
like our brave cottontail going under the fence, and then night after night,
he’d slowly close his big purple eyes, with lashes like long happy spiders,
fighting bedtime as I read about Peter’s daring escape, and I promise
I could see him smile, reassured by me, even though I was small
but daring like Peter, and he could finally sleep, content with the darkness.