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Tag Archives: curtains

in the dark…

vintage Econolite Mother Goose night lightMy father sat reading in his big chair in the living room, enveloped by the warm glow of the lamp, feet up on the ottoman, library books stacked at his side. I kissed him goodnight.

“Close your curtains,” my mother would say. “Be sure to close your curtains.” From the clumped gather of cotton fabric at the right side of the wide window, I drew the curtain across the lower rod to the center, peering over the top at what might be outside concealed by the darkness. Then the left side. Then the top, left side and right.

Turning off the glaring overhead light, I changed into my pajamas in the darkness, felt my way to the bed and crept under the covers. On the chest of drawers next to the bed was a nightlight — my “diddle” — with a top like a little circus tent and a celluloid barrel painted with a cat and a fiddle and a cow and a moon that would revolve with the heat of the bulb inside. I turned it on and waited for the monsters.

After a while, my mother would come into my room and inspect the curtains for gaps, casually rearranging the fabric where the gathered panels met — at the center, at the edges — as if this was a matter of design, aesthetics, beauty, rather than a mantra against unseen terror.

She kissed my cheek, pulled the little chain to extinguish the nightlight, and left the room, closing the door behind her.

Eyes wide, I stared at the perfectly-draped window, certain that I was visible to the grasping creatures outside. She had told me about them: kidnappers, men who would offer me candy, who would touch my body. I couldn’t be too careful. They were everywhere. Especially outside my bedroom window.

I listened for a telltale footfall on the long flight of wooden steps that led from the back patio to the porch outside my room. At every creak and scratch I stopped breathing. At every sigh of the settling floorboards I waited, willing myself invisible.

I pictured them: hunched and twisted, grotesque and gap-toothed, reaching and staring.

I dreamed of wolves…
vintage night light photo