Our son had never been good at sleeping alone.
Night after night we found him in our doorway, begging to be allowed to sleep in our bed. My husband became increasingly frustrated as his sleep was disturbed. He swore he couldn’t sleep with that many people in one bed. He tried locking the door, but couldn’t ignore the crying in the hallway for long.
I decided to take things into my own hands. After reading my son his usual bedtime stories, I looked into his wide-awake eyes and decided to tell him about something new.
“There’s someone else in this house that you’re old enough to meet now. He’s hard to describe. You can only see him in the corner of your eye if you try really hard. That’s why you wake up with sleep in your eyes in the morning: it’s because he was here and your eyes tried to hide him. But if he catches you out of bed after lights off, it doesn’t matter if you close your eyes and hide. He’ll skit-skit-skitter across the ceiling and snatch you. He’ll drag you under the carpet or into the crack in the wall. And he’ll keep you in his castle where you get tired but never ever sleep, so that you can’t break the rules again”
My son looked terrified, his eyes wide and teary. More importantly, I was certain that he wouldn’t come to our room for a while. My husband stood in the door, smiling and nodding.
We had one week of peaceful sleep. Our son looked tired in the morning, but I didn’t care. For the first time in years, we could sleep the night through.
Perhaps that’s why the sound of my husband shuffling out of bed was enough to wake me. As I tried to fall back asleep, I assumed he was going to the bathroom but realised that his footsteps stopped too early to reach that far.
My husband’s scream was interrupted. First, I heard something skittering on the ceiling. Then, I heard the carpet tear up off the floor. Finally, I listened for hours to the sounds of wet tearing and snapping.
Once it was dawn and I was brave enough, I found blood dripping from a crack in the wall.
My son never has to sleep alone any more.