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March 2008, vol 4 no 1

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Adelaide Shaw

 

Night Terrors

It starts as a low moaning that quickly escalates into a loud scream.

“Daddy’s having a bad dream,” my sister says.

From the other end of the flat, the sounds continue.  It is not unfamiliar, this night terror.  It has happened before. Pressures of the job, financial worries, health concerns. At the time, I know none of this. His screams are beyond my understanding.

They stop abruptly.  Voices from my parents’ bedroom.  Footsteps.  A light goes on in the kitchen.  My father heating up some milk.

“Go back to bed,” he tells my sister who stands in the doorway. “It’s o.k.”

I don’t want to see him, this man who cries out in the darkness.  This man who sits me on his lap and gives me piggy-back rides.  This man who buys me ice-cream and sweets from the corner shop.  This man is a fearful stranger.  I huddle under my blankets imagining terrors more horrible than those that caused his nightmare.

darkened house—
fingers of moonlight
across the floor