All but deaf to thunderstorms and smoke alarms, nothing seems to wake him, but the guttural rasps of our breathing and the rhythmic creaking of the box spring rouse him from his bed and lead him padding in his footsies to the primal scene. He’s had to somehow scale the side of his toddler bed to get here, first to climb up off the mattress to the rail, then to descend the distance twice his height and tippy-toe feel for the floor, then in utter darkness navigate the twisting hall and short staircase, on hands and knees scrambling up steps that in daylight daunt him, and thread his way by instinct between the soft motor sounds of the sharp-nailed cat and the deeper rock-grinding rumblings of the dog, dangerous when roused, who sometimes snarls or worse in his gray confusion, then reach and work the latch of our door, to stand by the side of the bed—drawn by what? This bed, lit by distant streetlight through the window, tumultuous with the shadows we cast, distressingly noisy with exertion, pungent with unfamiliar scents, the insurmountable parents’ bed is the plateau whose legendary great plain he only thinks is flat but cannot see. On it grapples the monster with two backs that lends his quest its urgent mystery. He only half wants to see, but is compelled to climb and so tugs at the bedclothes from the floor and works his little jammie feet and grunts his plea. Lucky intrepid boy, his monsters have a sense of humor. Come on up then, voyager. Nestled between us on his back, eyes wide, feet still toddling, he jabbers of adventure and leaves it to us to unriddle what he foretells of what he foresees in the shadows of trees on the ceiling.

Copyright © June 17, 2007 David Hodges