I’ve already introduced my sister and told you all just how much I love her. She’s blonde, adorable, and a little bit ditsy. We’re five years apart in age nearly to the day. We were not planned that way, but we were destined to be best friends. This story is going to be about her as well, but I promise you all that my brother will make an appearance soon.
In fact, I’m planning a series of stories to tell you all about myself and my family. Let’s call it- What goes bump in the night.
I never thought about how many weird experiences my family has had at night, but once I gave it a second I realized we have quite a few. So, let me share the first one.
The scene: Manassas, Virginia 1998
My sister is three years old and I am eight.
The time? It’s somewhere around midnight or even later because both my parents are asleep.
I’ve always been a dead sleeper. Thunder storms, the train that ran near our home, the planes flying overhead to Dulles, and my notoriously loud family could never rouse me from my deep sleep as a child. Sleeping was the most sure of escapes. Once my eyes were closed I was out. I would often, when excited for the next day, go to sleep ridiculously early so that I could wake up immediately to the joys of what I had waited for.
My deep sleep only had one flaw. A sure fire way to wake me up would be to say my name right next to my face. Every member of my family learned this from early on. Unfortunately for me, the name alarm meant I would snap awake with heart pounding and breathing shallow. I don’t know why, but I’m always terrified when I wake up like that.
Anyway, one night I was blissfully asleep. Dead to the world, my blankets were wrapped around my body in a tight cocoon. My double bed was a glorious expanse in which I could flail, roll, and spread out in to my heart’s content.
I’m in the midst of some dream that I can only assume was amazing when a small, gentle voice and a shaking of the bed woke me.
“Har?” The bed dips on my side and the blankets begin to pull away. A chill seeps into my side as the voice repeats, “Har har.”
(Now, you may be thinking- I thought your name was Lauren? Well, as embarrassing as it is to admit my sister called me Har well into her elementary years. For some reason Lauren was too difficult to make out and thus ‘Har’ was born and more affectionately, I was Har Har. This was just as effective as waking me up as my legal and more dignified name.)
Jolting awake I rip the covers back from whatever blanket monger had found its way into my bed. Luckily, it’s only Kate at my side. At 3 she hasn’t hit her growth spurt yet so she’s adorably tiny and as blonde as a pixie. Her hair curls around her face making her a perfect real life rendition of a little cherub; I would clench my teeth to resist the urge to pinch those little cheeks until it hurt.
“Hm?” I asked as I roll on my side to face her.
“Can I sleep in your room?” She asks as she’s already slipped under the blankets and begun to suck away my warmth like a parasite. The parasitic relationship is a symbiotic one, however, because Kate’s a little space heater. She provides warmth while taking precious sleeping space and blankets.
I shrug, “Sure.” I’m about to roll back over when a question wriggles into my mind. It’s far too tempting to ignore as I realize my sister was pouting and shoving herself as close to me as possible as we settled in. I frown, “Hey Kate, why aren’t you in your bed?” I ask innocently.
Kate snuggles a little closer and I smile in response to the heat beginning to warm my torso. Her eyelids are already beginning to droop and her lower lip is growing too heavy to shut in the way it did when she was particularly sleepy. She’s nearly vacant from the world of the living when she replies in as casual a tone as she would ask for a glass of water, “Floating eyeballs were following me.”
My body has gone ice cold. My toes are numb and my chest never rises with the next inhale of air. I’m frozen. For the life of me I can’t even shut my own eyes. I stare at Kate with the sudden fear that, should I look away, I will be greeted by two naked floating eyeballs.
As panic begins to prickle my toes and fingers crawling toward my chest, Kate has fallen fast asleep. She’s warm and happy in the safety of her sister’s reach.
Meanwhile, I’m sinking beneath the layer of my blankets to build up my own security measures. My bed is now a panic room. If my toes or hand so much as inch too far off the side these foretold creepy eyeballs will appear with an equally gruesome mouth to devour me.
I’m so terrified I think about calling out to Mom and Dad. But what if my cry attracts the floating eyeballs? Kate’s so sure she’s lost them that she’s so deep in sleep she’s beginning to grind her teeth- I won’t know that that’s what the sound of marbles being rubbed together coming from my sister’s mouth is until I’m a little older. At the time I simple associate the crunching sound with Kate having found a restful sleep.
Somehow, I convince myself that if I can’t see the eyes the eyes can’t see me. Even better protection is my blanket pulled over my head. I slink down beneath my blankets through a series of shimmies and shakes until my face is level with my little sister’s princess nightgown. I shut my eyes tight and tuck the top of the cover behind my head. In the tight space the heat between two bodies is suffocating. I manage to fall asleep.
In the morning at breakfast I make my sister retell the tale. It’s a Saturday and we’re all clanging around, composing our usual cacophonous symphony of breakfast rituals. I watch my mother’s face as she smiles down at Kate. I’ve already informed my mom that my sister had joined me that night. After prompting her, Kate explains, “I slept with Lauren because the eyeballs were following me.”
The room is silent. Not even the sausage on the skillet dares to sizzle. I can only guess now that my parents were trying to decide the degree of therapy my sister needed as my mom asked, “Eyeballs were following you? In a nightmare?” Because this sort of thing could only happen in a nightmare.
Kate shook her head between bites of breakfast, “No, they were over me and then I walked to Lauren’s room and they came too.” She calmly explained.
The look of horror on my parents’ faces assured me I wasn’t a scared-y cat. I was most validated in my fears that night. As I rubbed the sleep from my eyes I decided I’d make a special prayer that night that God destroy all the disembodied eyeballs in our home.