Tuesday, January 10, 2006
I might someday be very wealthy and able to afford the most cutting edge security system on the market. I might have cameras with infrared technology scanning every inch of my property. I might have an armed response system ready to rain bullets should my perimeter be breached. I might have fierce dogs on alert and a .45 beneath my pillow.
It won't matter. None of it will matter. I still won't be able to sleep with my foot dangling over the edge of the bed.
You may snigger all you'd like. Because the older and wiser I get, the more convinced I become that letting your foot dangle is a very bad idea. I'm not talking about a fanged creature with hot breath living under the bed. I don't fear a low growl and then the clamp of mandibles upon my ankle. No sir. What I fear is much more subtle.
In the quiet and peace of night, with muscles relaxing and sleep upon my eyes, the thing I dread most is a simple touch. A light caress from beyond the edge of the bed. Just a tweak, a tickle, a cool hand brushing over my heel.
Because in that moment, it will become absolutely clear that the horrors conceived of in childhood exist, after all. They exist in the physical world where you live.
With that soft touch of the dangling foot, the security and sanity of adulthood is gone. You can no longer cling to the old belief that irrational fears are only products of an overstimulated imagination. You can no longer rely on the mantra that says the only thing to fear is fear itself.
Monsters, ha! The monsters will eat you and be done with it. Your terror, though gory, will be brief. The cool touch of the dangling foot spells a lifetime of horror -- the horror that comes when a person is forced to believe the unbelievable. There might be something hideous hiding in the closet, after all. Maybe the devil really is the source of the creeking sounds from the attic. Maybe the dead do rise and they might be waiting in your basement this very moment.
You don't want something pinching your toes in the night because that pinch will confirm it all. That quick and playful squeeze will present an absolute promise that you should fear the world and fear it plenty. You can get up, turn on all the lights and arm yourself with a canon, if you want to. Surround yourself with friends and make them poke under the bed for you. It won't matter. Because there is always tomorrow night and the night after that. There is always the basement and the attic and sooner or later you'll be alone again. Sooner or later you have to sleep. And now the thing under the bed knows you are aware of it.
It all sounds very hysterical, I know. I manage it well, and without medication. I do breathing exercises. I drink a lot. Mostly though, I make damn sure my foot never dangles over the side of the bed. You should do the same.