“Mummy, you know I have dark-o-phobia.”, spoke my six year old son, Adi.
I had heard the excuse enough and more times in thelast month, and honestly, despite being amazed at my child’s ability to create phobias out of thin air, I was tired of listening to the same rant over and over again.
“No darkophobia…farkophobia…we have already spoken about this. You need to learn to sleep in your own room.” I used my most no-nonsense tone, which I hoped fervently, would work on him.
“Mummy do you want me to be traumatized?” Seriously I have no idea how a 6 year old can come with these fancy words?
“Traumatized?” I raised my brows in mock surprise.
“Yes, it is an adult word for getting scared for mywhole life….do you….do you want that for me, Mummy?”
“Yes, I do smartass. And guess what, this time, to ensure you do not run to my room in the middle of the night, I’m going to lock you in. Let’s see how your dark-o-phobia works then.” I declared to the horror on his face. That was it, that was the drop of a hat, which brought tears to my mature speaking son. Two…maybe three streams of salty water ran down his cheeks and nose.
“Mummmmmyyyy please, no mummy….please. Don’t lock the room. I promise ill sleep on my own. Please leave the light on, please mummy.”
My heart twisted in pain, and the trauma I had caused him. No…no what should I do? How would he ever become brave, independent to sleep on his own?
I firmed myself, again, “Okay, I will leave the door open, but no light, alright.”
“No mummy please….please….the darkness would take me. Please mummy.” The quiet sobbing turned into a full-fledged bawl, and my son started retching. Damn, now all that he ate for dinner would be regurgitated to decorate my vinyl tiles.
I quickly picked him up and carried the discussion to our bathroom.
And as he retched his dinner, I spoke, “Fine! Let’s make a deal. You sleep in my room with the night light on and I will sleep in yours, with no lights on. And when you see me again in the morning, you will know that darkness can’t take you.”
I saw my son stare at me, through his puffed and tearful eyes, if anything, the horror on his face, increased.
But no, I wasn’t going to become weak now, we had to carry this through.
In spite, of many more arguments, tears and bawling, we stuck to our decision, or rather I did.
With my son in my room, finally lying in exhausted slumber, I went to his room; to his red bed that was covered with his toys. I loved that room. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why my son wouldn’t want to sleep there. It was every child’s dream bed, the red Steve McQueen.
As promised, I switched off the lights, all lights and the room was pitched in complete darkness. But that did not bother me, it never had. I don’t suffer from dark-o-phobia, you see, if that is even a word.
I think I was in deep sleep, when I felt my duvet being lifted and Adi sneaking into the warmth of his mother. I was too damn sleepy to object, I turned around and enveloped his frail body in my arms. He felt cold, really cold.
Damn, I hated the guilt of making Adi cry, it ripped my heart out, and oh my god, why was he so cold? He was freezing, even his breath on my neck made my body hair stand like bristles.
“Adi, baby why are you so cold?” I asked. There was no response, except for him coming even closer and holding me in a tight cold grip.
Shit, this was not right. He was like a slab of ice.
I opened my eyes to foreboding blackness that fell like a blanket in Adi’s room, and I looked at my son. I couldn’t make him out, except for blood red shining eyes, that looked at me and somewhere darkness spoke is a raspy whisper, “I am here to take you away.”
Adi, knew it was darkness that was out to get him, far end of the spectrum he saw an illuminated door. Behind he heard heavy rasping breaths getting closer by the minute. No…no..no, he had to run. No….mummy, where was mummy? He needed her to fight the darkness, he needed her strength, her logic, her rationale to conquer the demon that had tormented him for months.
His body was paralyzed, it refused to move in fear as the ominous sound of raspy breathing got closer. He tried, he pushed, he prodded his body to move, but damn it….it wouldn’t budge. His stomach was a deep pit of fear and his face ashen.
The last words out of his mouth, before the raspy voice breathed down his neck was ”mummmyyyyyy!”
Adi, woke with a start, his body was covered in cold sweat and he realized he was in his mother’s room. He looked around the comforting cream walls, and floral duvet. His mother was nowhere, and that’s when he remembered the deal.
The deal where she would sleep in his room, if anything the pit in his stomach got bigger and deeper. His body shivered in terror.
He slowly stepped off the bed and walked up to his room, the room where darkness came every night to take him away. The room where he would spend hours, still, in the cold embrace of darkness, with its freezing breath boring down his neck. The room where tears streamed down his eyes, and he prayed he could somehow become brave enough to fight the darkness, with its blood red eyes, and raspy voice.
He reached his door, which was almost shut except for a tiny sliver of opening. He could hear his mother breathing hard, occasionally accentuated by sobs. He knew why, he knew darkness held her too.
What should he do? His mother, his strength, his voice of reason was trapped by darkness. What if, it really took her away?
Okay…he thought, what would Iron man do now? He asked himself. Would he just sit there shivering in fear? Would he ask Jarvis, what to do? He ran back to his mother’s room and picked up the iron man figurine for strength and inspiration.
No…no Iron man wouldn’t just sit there, petrified and cold sweat breaking out all over. He would help mummy. Then Adi, thought about the immense courage it would take to walk into his room, go across and switch on the light, which was next to his cupboard. Oka,y that was too much courage to expect from a six year old. Fine, what would a six year old iron man do? Just then, he knew what he had to do, he would call out to mummy.
Adi ran back to the door, opened it crack, and called out,” Mummy….” First a whisper, when there was no response, he called out a bit louder, “Mummmy!”
Adi could make out nothing in pitch black, until a pair or blood red eyes turned around and focused on him. Oh Jesus….oh Jesus….no no no.
What should he do now….darkness was coming for him.
Just when Adi, was about to turn and run back to his room, he saw two shining diamonds rise behind the red eyes. He realized they were his mother’s earrings.
Suddenly, the red eyes and raspy breathing darkness struggled to move as shining diamonds held it. He saw them fumble and grunt, on the bed, at the ceiling, along the walls.
His mother screamed, darkness screeched. It triedbouncing the diamonds off the ceiling, but Adi knew his mother would not let go. She would not let darkness get him.
Finally, he saw blood red eyes and two shining diamonds, drag across what would be the opposite wall, until the room was washed in light and his mother fell off the top of the cupboard. Light made the darkness disappear.
She ran to Adi, picked him up in her embrace and spoke through tears, “You are never sleeping alone!”