The room wasn’t very large, certainly not by today’s standards. Looking back, it’s difficult to imagine how four people survived in that space over a 10-week summer. The double bed where your mom slept, and your dad, too, on Friday and Saturday nights, was beneath the far window. The rest of the room was taken by the twin beds where you and your brother (sister?) slept, and an eclectic mix of worn, weary, border-house dressers and chests. You shared a dresser with your sibling-shorts, and bathing suits in one drawer, socks, underwear in another, sweatshirts, sweaters and tees in a third. There was an old and cloudy mirror on one wall, and on the others were pictures you’d clipped from magazines, maybe Mickey and Willie, maybe John, Paul, George or Ringo. The windows were covered with faded cloth pull-down shades, each moved with a woven ring that dangled off a chord at the bottom.
The rear windows looked out to the “back”, or the woods. There were some nights, after hearing one too many “Cropsey” stories, or having made the mistake of following the latest “Superman” with a “Creepy” or “Tales From the Crypt,” there were nights when the trees rustled and the wind whispered, and your mom’s mahjong game was three bungalows away, and your little brother was nasally breathing in his sleep, and you pulled the summer quilt above your head, and held your flashlight in a death-grip, and counted the minutes off till your mom came by, on her turn to “bet”, to check you out, and reassure you with guarantees no werewolves or vampires lurked in the forest.
Do you remember it? Can you see it? The stacks of comics piled neatly on the wooden chair beside your bed. One pile for new issues, one for re-reads. The cold, flowered linoleum under your bare feet when you scurried from the bathroom after brushing your teeth, and dove, literally dove under the covers. The soft, downy pillow, and the cold, crisp, sharp summer sheets, and glow of the reading light your dad had erected above your bed, and the muffled sounds of your mom and her friends from the kitchen beyond, “two bam, three crack, soap, flower…mahjong!”
How many excuses could you concoct to wander from your room, feigning drowsy slumber on your face, intend on raiding the potato chips or M&Ms?
What wouldn’t you give to be back in the bed, just one more time, in that small, cramped bedroom, your brother asleep in the bed beside you, three fresh “Superman’s” waiting to be devoured, the small sound of the mahjong tiles clicking in the next room, the sheets cold and delicious, the night air crisp and clean, the wind a whisper, the leaves softly rustling. What wouldn’t you give, just once more, to be afraid of the dark?
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