That Which Only the Sun Could Slay

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I used to wake up because I couldn’t breathe.
It was the same living nightmare over and over again that made this happen, made me struggle for oxygen in the morning.
Every night, to prevent it from coming into my room again, I tried to stay awake as long as possible with a good book.
You know you’re tired, Lilly. Close your eyes. Give in, Sleep cooed.
I shook my head with firm—and quickly fleeting—determination. But my attempts were to no avail; a nine-year-old girl could only hold up a gargantuan Harry Potter book up over her head for so long. So, eventually, I was compelled to close the book, place it gently, lovingly on the bedside table—its assigned pedestal—and sleep.
Alas, it wasn’t that easy.
With one trembling hand on the light switch and the other clutching the covers, I glanced around the room, heart in my ears. Its every palpitation sent my body jerking. I tried to tune everything—my pulse, my breathing, my thoughts—out; I had to listen for it. Was it here yet?
Of course not. It was a clever one. It was waiting for the right moment. I felt its eyes through the window, watching my fingers on the switch.
It was ready. Was I? I slammed down on the switch.
It came. It came in from the window, its long, ebony cape brushing against the floor. It moved around me, encircled me. It was here.
It hissed, At lasssssst, at lassst, an eerie lullaby.
I was immobile, the covers now pulled up to my chin. The thing, this living darkness, breathed, its slippery breath sliding over to the wall, slithering around my bedside table, and crawling up my skin.
I dove under the covers. There, I was safe. But if any part of my body peeked out from under the blanket, the thing would lunge at me and devour me. If I did so much as twitch, it—this darkness that moved—would tear me asunder. If I breathed too loudly, it would hear me and—God knows what.
Somewhere in the distance—it sounded so far off!—my father snored and my brother talked in his sleep. If I screamed, they wouldn’t hear me. The Darkness would make sure of that. It would kill me before my voice could reach my family’s ears.
It could never be scared away, either, so long as it was night. When the thunder shook the world, and I shook with it, the Darkness stayed there, in my room, dancing to the sound of the rain.
It was everywhere. I was merely an aggregate of dust drifting in it. It was space. The universe. Time. Everything. But it couldn’t touch me here. I wouldn’t let it. My blanket had never failed me yet.
There was one thing that could surmount it: morning. In those silent, restless hours, I prayed for morning to arrive. It seemed so far away. Surely, though, it would come. It had to.
Somehow, it always did.
Each morning, I woke up under those covers—those heavy, asphyxiating covers—choking for air as if I was breaching the surface of the sea after a long underwater swim. And then, seeing the sun’s golden fingers reaching out to me, I went to the window, and took its hands. The warmth spread across my skin, touched my soul, and dissolved the memory my nightmare until it was a mere ghost.
It would come again later, of course, but so would the dawn.





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