Prompt: When you were little, you could swear there was a monster under your bed–but no one believed you. On the eve of your 30th birthday, you hear noises coming from under your bed once again. The monster is back and has an important message to deliver to you.
Memories from when I was ten years old flooded back like it was just yesterday…or last night, to be more precise. My mother’s throw pillows from various areas of the house (family room couch, living room settee, her bed) had been strategically placed on my bedroom floor. Starting at the doorway, creating a path to my double bed with the wispy pink canopy overhead, the pillows were my stepping stones across the treacherous moat that existed once the bedroom light was extinguished. My mother and father did not believe me – that the floor disappeared and became a sea of nothingness that would swallow me whole, and they would never see me again if I fell in – so they refused to turn the light off once I was safely and securely in my bed for the night. This meant I was forced to use the pillows…and tread carefully.
Once in the bed, the grumblings started, very low at first. It was a warning to me; keep all things on the bed. No feet hanging over the side, no arms or hands resting easily on the edge of the mattress. All things must stay on the bed and away from the edges for the entire night. So, I would curl into a ball in the middle of the mattress, cover my head, and tell the monster to go away – or at the very least – go to sleep. But the monster would whisper the same words over and over, “guardians are not always angels,” until I fell asleep, anxiously awaiting the morning sun through my windows, and the return of my floor.
Tonight, I have different prayers that include begging the bed to stop spinning, and deals struck that will prevent me from hurling the very expensive wine, vodka, and tequila I had ingested throughout the night. My friends had been very generous in their support of my attaining 30 years of life…too generous. Note to self: find friends who are less generous…and go to church.
The bed felt as if it were swaying, instead of the usual alcohol-induced spin. Something familiar returned to me, memories from my childhood drifted like a wave in my mind. Some of them soft and flowing, some of them crashing like waves against rocks. And somewhere, a whisper I had not heard in twenty years, filled my ears. I strained to make out the words, disbelieving what I was actually hearing. The truth was, I already knew the words, had spent a lifetime wondering when the monster that had resided under my childhood bed, would return.
“Guardians are not always angels.”
I pulled the comforter around me tightly, and grasped at my pillow, covering my ears to block out the raspy voice. My eyes were closed so tightly, my face muscles began to cramp and scream at me for release. But the message from my youth found me, and forced me to throw my pillow across the room at it, not wanting to find out what I was sharing my most personal space with, and hoping the pillow would somehow make it go away.
The bed drifted and swayed, and there was a familiar sound that was out of place; of water lapping against the sides of a boat. Every instinct told me to peer over the side of the bed, and confirm it was still on solid flooring. I could not look. I did not want the verification that what I knew to be true when I was a mere child – knew to be fact – still existed now as an adult.
And the whisper grew louder, more adamant, “Guardians are not always angels.”
The scream that came from my lips, surprised and shocked my ears, “What do you want?”
There was a period of nothingness, as if time stood still as the monster under the bed pondered my question.
“I want you to become what you were destined to be, a guardian. Your life thus far has been training for this very moment; when you leave what you have known, what you believe is life, and become the guardian you were born to be.”
“What?” I think the question was more for myself than the beast that had returned to haunt me. Surely, I thought, surely this is just the mixing of alcohol and Thai food. This cannot be real.
One claw, then another, came up over the side of the bed, clinging to it, digging its long pointed nails into the mattress. I hastily scooted to the far side of the bed, careful not to get too close to the edge. “Do not be afraid of the form you see now. It will look different to you when you fulfill your destiny. You must open your eyes, and see. See that what you have always believed to be a dis-jointed life has been a strategic plan designed to mold you into what you are truly meant to be.”
A dis-jointed life…that was an understatement. My parents had admonished me from the time I was a teenager until, well – last week – about my choices in life. The constant balking at changing from one sport to another in high school, never playing the same one twice; a new area of interest or study at college; career changes that were so varied that one had nothing to do with the other. I had always convinced myself it was because I learned the ins-and-outs of the sport, study, or job to the extent that it just became boring, and I would find something new to challenge me.
The large head slowly rose into view, as the body lifted itself onto the edge of the bed to sit. Both of us, this monster and I, were tentative as we peered at each other. “What is it you want from me?” I asked again, my voice lower but stern and clipped.
“I want you to take all the knowledge and experience and training you have had in this life, and step into the unknown. I want you to see that the nothingness that surrounds you is not something to fear, but the portal to where you need to be.”
“You want me to go in there?” I asked, pointing over the side of the bed. “No way.”
“When you were a child, it was right and proper for you to be afraid of it. It was not your time to enter the void. You are grown now. You have reached the prescribed age for this life, and now is the time to move past it, and take your place among the other guardians. It is safe for you to allow the darkness to take you. Soon, you will see light, and I will be there to guide you; albeit, in another form.”
“How will I know it is you?”
“You will know. I have been with you always, guiding you, protecting you. We are connected.”
“This is crazy,” I muttered. But something inside me, a burning that pulled me to the darkness, was also telling me that, crazy as this was, it was truly my calling. I could feel the answers to all my questions beckoning me from the deep channel around my bed.
“So, all I have to do is step off the bed? And I will be gone forever?” I asked, glancing at the wild beast perched on my bed.
“Yes, simply allow your legs to dangle over the side, and you will be taken to the light.”
I peered over the side, wary and uncertain, until a wave splashed upon me, cleansing me, calming me. Slowly, deliberately, I rolled off the bed and allowed myself to fall into the abyss.