Once upon a time .....
The bedroom of my younger childhood was an enchanting den.
It was a perfectly compact, rectangular box. Zeitgeisty wood chip lined the room from floor to ceiling. Half the wallpaper was overlaid in a dusky pink, the other, a biscuit cream. A white wardrobe, a white chest of drawers and my bed, swaddled in a fuchsia spread, co-existed in tight proximity.
This was the den where magic and invention happened. A cushion became a carriage. The bed became a space ship. An incisor placed under a bed time pillow became an object of alchemical wizardry; at night fall, just a plain discarded tooth but by sunrise, transformed into a cherished silver coin.
This was the bedroom where Santa quietly left a pillow case of surprises outside the door. Where I performed Cinderella, Rapunzel, The Sleeping Beauty. Where I learnt to read. Where I scribbled pictures and jumbled up letters in red, blue and green felt tip pen. Where I abandoned nappies in favour of a bright yellow potty. Where I thrilled in pulling open the windows of an advent calendar. Where I kept ladybirds in soggy matchboxes stuffed with damp lettuce. And where I made fetid perfumes from rose petals stifling in a bowl of water.
But at night my den became a place of shadows and unfamiliar sounds.
So Daddy, the sorcerer, routinely vanquished the horrors that lay in the darkness. With a flick of one hand, he ordered the cupboard drawers shut, with the flick of the other, he commanded the landing light flood through the open door onto the gloomy carpet of the bedroom floor.
But neither my father's reassuring measures or the closed curtains could protect me from the ominous flashes of an approaching storm. Even the cosseting layers of the heavy eiderdown, and the firmly tucked in sheets, failed to muffle the rumbling sound of one hundred wild horses galloping, unfaltering in their speed, towards me .....
A sudden burst of white light.
Counting to ten; "one, two, three ..."
The storm racing nearer, louder, towards me. I remember screaming for my parents. Then either Mummy or Daddy secured me in their arms until the tempest had subsided, and only distant thundery growls could be heard.
One dark night, past the witching hour, I heard voices. And this time, I was alone.
I awoke to the sound of whispering, the undecipherable, tangled words of people, adults, I'd never heard before. It definitely wasn't the tones of my mother, father or brother. They were all silently asleep. I couldn't see anything. No one was there. All that could be heard, was the unfamiliar whispers in the pitch black.
The hushed voices, like the pied piper, charmed my sleepy body from the warm safety of the bedsheets, and I followed the unintelligible babbling onto the landing. The whispering was befriended by rural sounds. Sheep. Cows. Pigs. I stood at the open doorway of the toilet peering blindly into the unilluminated void. Bleeting, moo'ing, clucking, discharged loudly from the toilet rim. I thought better than emptying my bladder. I turned, padding passed my parent's room. They were still asleep. Why weren't they stirred by the supernatural cacophony? The whispers continued to weave and dance around me like fallen leaves tossing in the wind, until I found sanctuary back in my bed. There I placed my hands over my ears to fend off the voices. Within minutes sleep had enveloped me ... and with that, the whispering, the farmyard noises, were gone.
The following morning I shared my nocturnal experience with my father. But he simply laughed then sung the nursery favourite, Old Macdonald Had A Farm. I attempted, again, this time more emphatically, to tell him about the whispering, the moo'ing and the bleeting. I dearly wanted him to believe me. Strangely, the voices and animal sounds hadn't frightened me. But not being affirmed by my parent seemed a far more scary prospect. Daddy began singing "and a moo moo here, and a moo moo there." I felt deflated. Why hadn't he believed me? At that moment, my Dad was no longer the protective hero but the villain who'd cast his five year old daughter, alone, into the night time world of ghosts, ghouls and monsters.
There is nothing more crushing or corrosive to a child's sense of self than not being believed.
In all likelihood I'd probably experienced what is known as a hypnopompic hallucination; a visual, tactile or auditory hallucination that occurs from sleep to wakefulness.
The whispers in the dark have since, never returned.
So once upon a time, what did you enjoy (or dislike) doing, seeing or creating? It could be anything. What were you like many moons ago? Do you have a once upon a time story to tell or picture to share? It could be a happy, sad or humorous tale. The skies the limit. So do link up below and grab the badge code ... and don't forget to tweet #onceuponatime. This is a monthly meme.
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