It kept me awake at night, my eight-year-old body lying stiff as a board and staring straight up at the fading glow-in-the-dark stars on my popcorn ceiling. I tried not to move or make any noise, just letting my mind run with terrifying ideas. I took care to keep my legs and arms far from either side of my bed, careful not to lay closer toward one side or the other. The wall was no solace, because there was a tiny crack between my bed and the wall. For years, I was afraid that there was a person under my bed.
It was a silly fear, since there was nothing under my bed — no boxes, no toys, barely even dust. I could see plainly every day that my under-the-bed region housed nothing and no one. But everything that happened during the day was forgotten when I got into bed. I closed my eyes, but opened my mind after the light was turned off.
I was afraid of the man under my bed. I feared him snatching my hand and pulling me under, swiftly and quietly. He would have to be deft to be hiding under my bed without making a sound each night. When trying to get out of bed, I did it quickly and leapt as far from the edge of my bed as possible, trying to escape the reaches of this under-the-bed-dwelling man. Any sound pricked needles across my skin, with the possibility that it could be the man making himself known, right before staging his attack.
I never knew what he could possibly look like, nor did I try to imagine it. I knew him by the feeling he espoused in my elementary school-aged body and mind. But unlike the recurring nightmare that woke me each night, this I kept to myself. I didn’t draw it out, crumple it up and throw it away to rid myself of it all, as I did with nightmares. And thus, they persisted.
I don’t know how long it lasted or when it actually stopped. But for a long time, the scariest place I could possibly be was my own bed.