Caressing Shadows

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In the depths of the house, the boy’s eyes widened. A creaking came from outside his bedroom, footsteps on the stairs. He held his breath. The creaking stopped. He gave a sigh of relief; a gentle placement of a foot outside his door came to him. The small metallic robot that lay on his bed next to him was no longer comforting. It was hard and seemed to be prying itself out of the boy’s harsh grip.

The boy whimpered as he heard a large breath. He had no faith his thin wooden door, it could not keep things out, instead, it was the cold iron gate to his prison cell trapping him inside while whatever it was outside was getting ready to eat him. The shadows in the bedroom grew longer and reached towards the boy. He tried to stifle his breath, but it became louder. A moment of silence from outside his bedroom and the boy had a plan.

The boy slowly pushed back his superman blanket. The face of his hero was shaded in the darkness and there was no safety there. His eyes were glued to the door handle while his legs eased themselves over the bedside. His feet touched the damp coolness of the wooden floor. His hand left the toy robot as he lifted himself up onto his petrified legs. The floor creaked and the boy gave it a frown. He bit his lip as he crouched down and pulled himself into the gap between his mattress and the floor.

The boy crawled forwards sliding on his pajama shirt and letting himself be enveloped by the deep darkness of under the bed. Tonight under the bed was no longer a place for monsters; the real monster was outside the door. A broken leg of an old action figure skittered across the floor, propelled by the boy’s hand. He could hear the monster outside drooling as it thought of the nice meal he would make. The abandoned robot on the bed was suddenly longed for.

Light danced from underneath the door and the boy could see shadows of where the monster was placing its feet. Worry tore across the boy’s face. He needed to go to school tomorrow and the monster was waiting for him. Tomorrow he would need to open the door and it would eat him up then and there.

A squeal was stifled as the door handle twitched. The boy’s heart was pounding but he was too frightened to tell it to be quiet. The door glided open and light saturated the room. The boy could see heavy dark boots and he pulled backwards. He hit his head on the top of the bed frame and stifled a whimper. Under the circumstances, a whimper was not qualified.

A change of tactics came to the boy as the monster eased itself closer. He screamed with all his might. He cried while he screamed, certain that soon the monster would eat him and it would be the last thing that anyone would hear of him. The monster crouched down and it’s arms came forward grabbing onto the boy. The boy tried freeing himself but they were too strong. They pulled him forwards into the jaws of the monster. He closed his eyes and sobbed.

A young man sat on the messy bed and hugged the boy towards him. His face couldn’t stop from showing concern. The five year old weakly tried punching at him but his effort was wasted with fatigue.

“Shh,” the man whispered. “I am so sorry, Simon, I am so sorry,” he repeated to the boy over and over again until finally the boy’s sobs turned into whimpers. “You were really great in your soccer game today, watching you wasn’t a total waste of time…I was just…tired.”

The man looked to another figure who was standing with her arms crossed in the doorway for reassurance. A frown on her face told him that his apology wasn’t good enough.

“Look bro, I’m really sorry…tomorrow after school how about I take you out and we can play soccer together. I’ll show you some really cool moves and you’ll be able to show off at your next soccer practice.” The boy’s whimpers grew quiet as he contemplated the offer.

“Promise?” the boy spoke.

“I promise,” the man agreed. “Look, from now on I’ll be the best big brother ever alright?”

Simon’s eyes sparkled. “The best?”

“Yeah, the best…now get some sleep.” The man lifted Simon up to his pillow and tucked the blanket up to his chin. “Big day tomorrow champ, see you after school.”

The man eased himself off the bed and out of the room. He gently closed the door behind him. “Good enough?” He nearly pleaded. His mother pondered for a moment then let him off the hook with a nod.

She pointed a finger at him to send her point home, “you had better mean that though, if he comes home again like he was earlier I will never let you hear the end of it.”

“Yes Mom,” he replied.

---

Back in the shadows of the bedroom, the boy’s mind raced. Tomorrow would be the best day ever. He held the tin robot closely and whispered to it, giggling at the thought of all of the neat soccer tricks that Jack would teach him. The shadows of his bedroom caressed him as he fell into the depths of slumber.





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