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  • I am nine and the light is draining out of the night sky. I am wearing my footie pajamas with spider man on them, because it is cold, and spider man will protect me. I’m afraid. I can see the light leaving day behind for night and I am afraid. My mother’s voice is outside my door, down a corridor, around a corner. She is smoking in the kitchen. Flirting with a man. What will happen next is I will drift asleep and then I will wake up, just as it is fully, finally, dark outside. My body will react to the lack of light and protect me by waking me up. I am afraid. I don’t like the darkness of night because that is when people die. It is possible to be killed in your sleep, and some people just never wake up – they just stop. This happens in the dark. At night. I am terrified of dying; of becoming a shadowy figure that floats above everything watching like a third person haunting the world of mortals. I don’t want to look down at the world and see that I am not there. I do not want to be god. I do not want to escape the terrible fears and sensations of being a nine-year old boy. I want to survive the night.

    It happens. Night comes. And it happens. I wake. I peel the covers off the bed, and step onto the floor, quietly. I take my pillow, my blanket and walk to my door. I look out into the corridor and see nothing but the warmth of light. The safety of electricity. I sit down on the floor, my nose just graced by the light in the corridor, waiting. I count as high as I can. Then I start again. And again. When it seems safe, I carefully open my door all the way and crawl down the hallway to my sister’s bedroom. Her door is ajar. I slide into her room, just inside, by the door and I lay my pillow on the floor. I curl up, the soft light of the corridor gracing my face and I know I am safe. My sister is there, in the bed, where people die. She will get it first. This way I’ll be safe. The light will protect me and death will skip me for her. I’ll be safe here in the in-between space of light and dark, of bed and floor until the morning sun starts to brighten the sky again. When it does, I’ll crawl down the corridor to my room and slide back into bed.

    No one will know of my cunning. I will escape death, and no one will know.
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