When I was a child, I would see monsters everywhere.
Leering faces living in the folds of my curtains. Evil visages framed by branches back-lit by a full moon. Teeth formed by fence posts, claws outlined by leaves, horns made of playground equipment. When the wind blew, the branches and leaves would move and the monsters would beckon at me.
What are you? I wanted to ask, but fear of attracting their attention kept me silent.
We are coming, the windborne movement would reply. We are coming for you.
The monsters lived only at night, and only in my imagination. My mind would fill dark spaces with beasts. Under my bed, in my closet, waiting outside my window. Monsters, all intent on ending me. Their imagined eyes were always blank, always hungry. Always watching me. I would stare at them, willing them to go away, to leave me alone. Wishing.
Sleep was impossible. I could not sleep, lest a cold hand were to grab me during my slumber. Slender, bony fingers grasping my ankle, preventing me from running, covering my mouth, preventing me from screaming.
The monsters were everywhere and nowhere. I could not show them to others, but my terror knew they existed, and knew they would come.
As I grew, I stopped seeing monsters. Branches were simply trees. Playground equipment lost its menace. Sleep became easy, as I knew that monsters were not real, that nothing living waited under my bed. My imagination turned to more sensible dreams. Dreams where I did the chasing. Chasing power, money, women. Not nightmares where I ran from the unknown, the unnamed.
But the monsters returned.
I am an adult now, and I have seen the world and know the horror it contains. No longer is terror solely in the domain of darkness, of imagination. The monsters exist, the monsters are everywhere. Every attack, every assault, every abduction, confirmed and glorified by a media thirsty for fear, for death. The monsters live in the daylight, in my city, in my neighbourhood.
My fear is worse now. I do not fear for myself. I fear for my children.
Leering faces looking through their curtains. Evil visages standing behind trees. Strange men sitting alone on park benches, overlooking playground equipment.
What are you doing there? I want to ask, but I fear of making a scene keeps me silent.
We are coming, their silence seems to say. We are coming for them.
I stare at these men, willing them to go away, to leave. Wishing.
Sleep is impossible. I cannot sleep, lest I miss a cry out in the night, a monster grabbing my babies as they slumber. Cold hands grabbing their ankles, covering their mouths.
Now that I have children, I see monsters everywhere.