My spider phobia is really unexplained, except for one night. The bedroom I sleep in has three beds in it: mom and dad’s full sized bed, baby brother’s crib and my small bed at the end of the room, located at the front of our farmhouse. My parents feel their children are too young to sleep upstairs by ourselves so we sleep in their bedroom, until further notice.
I’m supposed to be asleep because it is nighttime and because I was told to go to sleep. But, dishes clanking, along with the voices of my parents, keep me awake. Outside the bedroom door is the living room where light from the kitchen spills into it, casting shadows. I can’t see my brother in his crib because the solid part of his bed blocks my view. But, I know he’s there because I saw him lowered into his crib earlier, half asleep. He’d whimpered once, waking up to rock himself back to sleep.
I strain to lift my head, off the pillow, to interpret the humming that is my parents’ conversation, but instead, their voices become the lullaby that lulls me to sleep. My eyes flutter to close until something in the kitchen clangs.
My eyes fly open and I look at the curtains on the window above me and at the ceiling that seems to glow in the semi-darkness. I lift my arms outside the quilt, that’s been tacked together with yarn, and play with the strings. My eyelids are stronger than my four-year-old determination and close, melting into my cheeks.
The next time I open my eyes, I’ve been dreaming and the gloom of night swallows me. The house is quiet and darker than before, except, for a dim light somewhere casting new shadows. I close my eyes to all that scares me then squint to survey the bedroom. My heart pounding in my chest becomes a drummer’s solo in my ears. I want to call out to my mom, but I’m too scared to get my voice outside my head. The big bed seems far away. I see the outline of two lumps in the big bed, which are my parents. Something on my bed vies for my attention and I turn my head back to face it. As I look over the quilt that’s covers me, I see hundreds of shadows that become spiders, racing atop the quilt.
I clinch my eyes closed and force my voice outward. “Mommy?”
The big bed unfolds and one of the lumps becomes my mother. “What is it?” Mom says, in a whispery and sleepy voice.
“Spiders – all over my cover,” I cry.
She says something about it's only the threads on my quilt and not spiders and firmly pats the entire area of my covering, with her bare hands then smoothes it flat. “There, I’ve killed them all. There are no more spiders. Now, go back to sleep.” She leans in close to my face; the shadow of her face consuming mine. My mother’s breath touches my cheek, followed by a kiss.
My eyes close as she tucks me in again. I feel her energy and peek to make sure she’s still there, but the burden of heavy eyelids triumphs.
The next morning, my bed is empty. A search finds me sleeping behind a big rocking chair in the living room.
[Significance: Since that night of imaginary dream spiders, I’ve had an extreme (and often paralyzing) fear of spiders.]