"Time to snooze, little angel." Then daddy kissed Susan's nose and tickled her toes. But Susan was still afraid of the night.
She'd rather eat a whole bowl full of spinach than face her fears. She hid under the covers, with her thumb in her mouth.
Then the sky became darker than a purple blanket. She was sure goblins and noises in the night headed right for her room. They may even use magic to fly up to her window.
So she kept the window closed. Gosh, was that a movement under her bed?
Susan was positive drooling creatures were creeping from her closet. They must be listening to the downstairs grandfather clock 'bong' twelve times.
Are those sounds from scratchy toenails scraping on the wooden floor?
She looked at her wallpaper. Brown and white cows were hopping over stars in the galaxy.
Her daddy was an astronomer. He often talked about the galaxy, and the stars that winked at night.
"They're friends," he said, "watching over my little girl."
They did keep her company. Instead of counting sheep, she counted stars. But it wasn't the same as real ones. If only she had enough courage to look through her window and wish on a real star.
Covering her eyes with four fingers, and thumbs in her ears, the night passed swiftly. Morning's sun looked like a freshly cooked egg, sunny side up.
This sleepy-eyed girl got dressed, ate, went to school, learned lots, came home and, it was sleeping time again.
Each of the last three nights was the same. Mommy, and daddy wished their daughter would stop being afraid.
Tonight Susan decided to be braver than usual. After her parents gave goodnight kisses, she held tightly to her doll, then, got out of bed. Warm toes visited the cold floor as she moved silently to the window.
Susan didn't wish to wake up any monsters.
She wanted to see real stars, not just wallpaper make-believe. She turned off the night light, opened the curtain and
"Ooh," she gasped. "They're beautiful." From her house on the side of a hill, it was easy to see the Milky Way. There was a huge collection of stars.
And they seemed to sparkle, just for her.
It was like watching fireflies around a campfire. She remembered when the family tented out last month, and the exciting way fireflies blinked from low bushes in the woods.
She had a wonderful sleep then.
Yes, like daddy said, Susan did have a lot of friends. That thought helped when she snuggled back into bed. Night creature noises soon came into her room, but they did not seem to bother her as much.
Dreaming about nice things helped chase away scary images.
Like riding her bicycle around the house. Or climbing the "jungle-gym" in the park. Both were fun.
Especially eating a bowl of chocolate moose-hoof ice cream. And a slice of pineapple pizza was even better.
Susan finally began to enjoy being in the dark, along with her fun thoughts.
She knew she was braver with each passing night. Instead of simply hiding under her blankets, she sat on a chair by the window. And stared at the stars.
Tonight the full Moon was bright as a flashlight. And shone right across her face. Was there really a man in the moon? she wondered.
Daddy said the human shape was made from many craters, left from crashing meteorites.
She didn't care about any reasons. Susan was happy the man in the moon had a nice smile. Just for her.
"Oh yes, there's the Big Dipper," she said out loud, "with seven stars in the shape of a pot." She didn't care if any creatures in the night even heard, so there.
Did that North Star just "wink?" she giggled.
A comet sped by in a shower of orange. It came very close to her house. "Whew," Susan thought. Thankfully it disappeared over the next hill.
She had an excellent sleep this night. And her dreams were filled with all sorts of flying objects. Not only stars, but rings from Saturn doing the "twist" around its planet.
Her eyes suddenly opened wide. She was sure a meteorite shower was now bouncing around her room. They seemed to chase away any ghostly 'things.' Also weird sounds that tried to hide in the corners of her room.
And she was glad.
Breakfast was extra special. Instead of tired eyes, and barely able to see her spoon in front of her face, Susan was dressed, and smiling. It was most unusual for her to be first, or to even be setting the table.
"Guess what?" Susan asked, as mommy and daddy arrived yawning and stretching.
They blinked in surprise at the treat their daughter had prepared. Cereal was in bowls, juice in glasses, and a plate with buttered toast was waiting.
"Did you win your wrestling match with those scary shadows?" daddy asked.
"Maybe you found out night-time can be fun," said mommy.
Susan rushed forward with two huge hugs. They were much better than saying, "YesYes."
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2006
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.