Lily couldn’t sleep. The nightlight illuminated her space with star-shaped shafts of light and allowed a dim glow to cover the corners where things might be hiding. But the closet door was ajar. Its darkness seemed to seep into the room and block the cheer her sleepy-time turtle was supposed to bring. Something had moved in there, she was sure if it. She imagined it to be something slimy with many long, sharp teeth and a tail that whipped around like a kite in strong wind. She’d had her eyes focused on the same spot for what seemed like hours, watching and waiting for more movement, her stuffed panda pulled up to her nose for protection. She watched and waited, her eyes teetering on the edge of closing, her mind getting dull and blank.
Brian was in his room trying to will himself into actually doing his math homework. He’d set off on the quest for the perfect study music three hours ago and ended up with a small collection of much needed MP3s, none of which were by Beethoven. He updated his Facebook profile to let everyone know that he was finally about to, very begrudgingly, begin. It was then that the high-pitched scream of a very small, very terrified girl hit his ears.
By the time Marney had arrived at her daughter’s bedroom, toothbrush still in mouth, to find out what had caused her daughter to scream and her heart to skip a beat the damage had already been done. Her son, in attempts to rid the closet of whatever monster her little girl had imagined in there, had done several very showy karate kicks in various directions. These kicks had seemingly scared the monster away because her daughter now had a giant grin on her tear stained face. But they had also knocked over several of her toys and broken a recently purchased sunflower lamp. She gave her son a sigh and he simply shrugged his shoulders and grinned at her.
As Marney tucked her daughter back in to bed she reassured her that whatever had been in that closet had been frightened away by her brother’s awe-inspiring jump-spinning back kick and would surely not be stupid enough to return to a closet that was so well guarded. Placated, Lily snuggled back in with Mr. Pouchy, her panda, and smiled the smile of contentedly sleepy little girl. Glancing back at the room to check that she’d gotten all the pieces of the lamp Marney found herself contemplating how much it would cost to replace and instantly concluded it was a small price to pay for a comfortably sleeping daughter who trusted her big brother to keep the monsters away.