Colorful Quilt and Things That Go Bump in the Night

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The Story

Nighttime proved to be the most challenging part of my day. I was fearful of many things for no reason. I believe, as children, we don’t understand many concepts, so to make sense of our environment we formulate ideas about how things work.

For instance, I was a finicky eater and rejected many foods because I had misconceptions about where they originated. I laugh about it now, but as a child, I thought spaghetti noodles were worms, rice was dried maggots, and hush puppies were made of dogs — namely, the neighborhood dog Pup-Pup. I was a teenager before I began eating these foods. Then, I discovered what I had missed out on.

The house where we lived had a fireplace, so naturally, sometimes outside critters would find their way inside the home via the chimney. To protect myself from the possibility of a bat flying around my head while I slept, I always went to bed with my head and body completely under the covers. I would leave a small opening so I would not suffocate myself, and so I could peer out just in case I heard something go bump in the night.

It was pitch dark where we lived. The only real light outside came from the moon and stars, but lightning bugs were also innumerable. They were amazing to see and would leave me star-struck, wondering how light flickered in their tiny bodies. We would attempt to capture them by cupping our hands together and enclosing them. Then, we’d be able to get a closer look at the magical light show they displayed.

As dusk progressed into the darkness of night, my imagination would run wild with thoughts of ghosts — beings I often witnessed on my siblings’ favorite Saturday morning cartoon, Scooby-Do. Additionally, Ma ’Dear and my aunts would recant ghost stories to us. Thus, I believed they were real and were capable of appearing at any moment when darkness fell.

My last, most prominent fear was that I would be attacked by gorillas. Now, this is a hilarious belief I had as a child. I would stay up with my grandmother watching television until it “signed off”. What I mean by “signing off” is that, back in the day, there were no twenty-four-hour broadcast stations. Around eleven o’clock, television programming would end. A patriotic song would play with patriotic scenes in the background. Then, you would see the station turn to a statically black-and-white screen. Finally, this annoying crackling sound would play. Oh-my-God, this would spook me every night. I have not gotten to the most frightening part — brace yourself!

There was this television series I liked to watch called The Planet of the Apes. As you might expect, this show was about highly intelligent apes being captured, brought to America, and forced into slavery. They eventually regained their freedom and enslaved their captors. Coinciding with this television series, however, were wars and rumors of wars around the world. Of course, I did not know all the ramifications of war, so when I heard things like, “The [guerillas] have escaped and are heading towards some other place,” I was clueless. I did not know where these places were located, but I imagined it was in our direction, and that the “guerillas,” like the apes on The Planet of the Apes, would soon come crashing through our front door to attack us. Oh, the horror of it all! Oh, the fear that kept me in its grip for so many years. It was over a decade or more before I finally reconciled my misconceptions with the truth. I had to chuckle and laugh at myself about how I had lived in fear of harmless things I did not understand. However, the collateral damage had already been done. To this day, I am embarrassed to say, I still find myself with my head under the covers afraid of the bumps in the night.

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