A child's imagination holds fanciful possibilities!
It is nearly time. Let us drift into the room of our little hero, who is very aware of the time as well, and knows that he must be ready.
See him as he stands in his crib, wide eyes staring into the shadows of the room, which seem long and strange and alien in the yellow glow of the night-light. His blonde hair is tousled, pressed against his small head in some places while, in stark contrast, standing up and away like stalks in other spots. His pajamas are checkered, alternating green and yellow from his collar down to his feet.
He grips the rail of his crib, also decorated in green and yellow, and takes a deep breath. In this moment we might fight an urge to laugh at this tot, looking so determined and serious in the middle of a calm night, so much like a man he may one day grow to be. But we can look in his large brown eyes and observe the childish whimsy. While his mouth is not doing so, his eyes are most definitely smiling.
And he begins to wail.
It seems strange in light of those smiling eyes, but the crying starts, low and practiced, with hitching breaths in between. Look now! And see the tears welling up in those beautiful brown eyes, tears where happiness had dwelt only seconds before. The crying begins to rise, gaining momentum like the engine of a small car, before roaring into life and into a full-blown bawl. His cheeks, round and perfect, have taken apple sheen, and are glistening. They seem to glow in the night-light’s lemon ambiance.
His cries echo through the house, high and helpless, reverberating off of the walls in a plea for help, a desperate appeal for companionship, a demand for a parental contribution. They burst through the silence that had hung so peacefully within these walls, overtaking it, devouring it, and erasing it.
Listen, beneath the infantile howls, and we can hear the creaking of a door and the uneven, sluggish footfalls from the hallway. A muted voice rumbles low and unintelligible and heavy, but the words cannot be heard and are not meant for sharing. The doorknob to our hero’s room turns, its brass roundness flickering with movement. There is the soft whine of hinges turning, and a shadow looms in the doorway.
The wailing does not subside.
The shadow steps through the doorway, and soft golden light spills onto a beleaguered face, with foggy eyes and disheveled hair that is standing out in random places in an eerily similar pattern to our hero. The face looks neither angry, nor happy, nor sad. The face is far too exhausted to bear any of these traits. Instead, the man who bears the face steps forward, through the lemony light, and reaches.
For now, the cries have died down, and the man hoists our hero from the crib. He speaks softly, soothing words intermingling with the restless sniffles that are the last remnants of this night’s tantrum. The man pats our hero on the back softly, and rubs him between the shoulders, before walking out of the room and down the hallway.
We must follow.
In this hallway, the darkness comes in variety. Some shadows loom more ominous than others, which have faded from a dangerous black into a less menacing charcoal hue. There were glowing orbs of light in the bathroom, small and defiant against the pressing shade. Pictures adorn the walls, obscured by the dark, though their glass covers reflected the desperate minute radiance.
The man creaks into another room, this one only glowed by red numbers, which showed 01:42. There is a soft sound hidden in the gloom, muffled and feminine, and it is the woman our hero loves more than any. Only now she is huddled beneath drifts of blanket, groaning in her slumber, unaware of the newest occupant to her bedroom.
The man pulls our hero into bed. He shoves blankets to the side and makes pillows as a makeshift cradle, looking stern as he does so. Our hero snuggles between the pillows, blocked from rolling, and protected if the man or woman do so in their sleep. The man plants a soft, wet kiss on our hero’s forehead and mutters, “You gotta start sleeping in your crib, champ,” before rolling over.
Watch our hero. He waits.
He pauses until he hears the slow, repetitive breaths from the man, which coincide with that of the woman. When that happens, he sits up slowly, gazing at both of them carefully before crawling to the foot of the bed, moving slowly over the huddled comforter and reaching out into his soft, pudgy hand touches the footboard. Once this has happened, he lets out a low coo.
Then he smacks the footboard twice.
It is a low sound, but loud enough amidst the snores and hush of the dark night. He checks briefly on the man and woman before turning his eyes in the darkness, where a bright light suddenly bursts from the ground in a low, white line, which casts a glow across the hardwood floor. There is a sound of many little things scurrying, and hushed conversation. And then a click, which seems huge and deafening in the darkness, followed by a soft rasp.
The line of light suddenly is joined by another, perpendicular, which widens into a rectangle. The hanging coats and misplaced shoes within the rectangle seem foggy to our hero. It is not these that he wished for, but instead the timid little men that stand in front of the shoes and beneath the coats, peering out nervously, as if expecting an ambush....