It was a cool spring night, cool enough for thee pink chenille bedspread to remain on the bed but warm enough for a cricket to begin singing his springtime song. The full moon cast its cool silver glow around the upstairs bedroon of the old farm house. It would light the room, first into the east dormer window as it rose in the sky. Then later, the west dormer window would allow the moon to return for an early morning visit. Two little girls shared the room which served as a playhouse by day and a cozy resting place by night. I was the older of the two and I slipped into bed next to my younger sister who had already fallen asleep. I loved those moonlit nights and the feelings that they evoked. Although I was too young to understand the power of the moon...the tugging on the heart...like its power over the tides to make them ebb and flow.
I snuggled in, gave a sigh, and pulled the chenille spread up to cover my bare shoulder. With only the sound of the cricket and my little sister's deep, even breathing I was about to reach the edge of my dreams.
What was that?! It sounded like the choset door on the west side of the staircase...but we rarely used that door because it drug on the floor when we tried to open it. By lifting up on the handle it made it easier to open. The closet was one that wrapped around the outside of the room on the far side of the stairway and had another door at the top of the staircase. That was the door we used because it was much easier to open and it didn't drag and scrape against the floor. Yes, that is exactly what that sound is, someone is opening the closet door. The cricket's song froze in mid-verse. I thought, that better not be my younger brother just trying to scare us. I'll get even with him! No, it couldn't be him. I just remembered he had gone to spend the night with gramma and help her with some extra chores. The door was opening all the way now and whoever it was, did not know to lift the handle so it scraped loudly against the floor. My heart started to beat faster now and I heard the sound of one footstep. It was a loud clomp, not the sound of a cowboy boot that would make a soft squeaky sound as the worn leather sole met the polished wooden floor. This was a work boot I heard. Another step...it was getting closer! I counted five steady steps that sounded like very big and heavy boots, but the sound was of boots strangely empty, like no one was in them. Counting those steps one by one I knew it would put him right by our bed. The steps stopped. I couldn't open my eyes, I wouldn't dare look. I was barely breathing and my heart was pounding so hard I could feel it in my throat. I had a tight grip on my little sister's arm and I was squeezing it as hard as I could. I don't know if I was trying to wake her, trying to make sure I had a good grip on her if she was snatched from the bed, or just holding on for dear life. I was pretending to be asleep but I am sure that I was sweating buckshot across my brow and it was glistening in the moonlight that filled the room. The boots stayed by the side of the bed for what seemed like an eternity. I could feel the cold, icy stare that was fixed on the two little girls, one with long blond curls and the other with short dark curls. What could this stranger want? I dare not move, breathe, or open my eyes. Finally ...just as unexpectedly as they came marching out of the closet, the boots started to march past the bed. I counted five more loud clomps and the east door of the closet opened and then it shut.
What would i do now? If I got up and ran downstairs I would be leaving my little sister by herself, vulnerable. I couldn't run to turn on the light, the switch was right by the closet door. I had no choice but to stay in bed and stay awake all night...and wait. The hours slowly passed... the fear was finally subsiding. Not a sound was heard, not even the cricket dared to pick up his song again.
The next morning the sun came up as usual.. I ate breakfast and caught the country school bus. I made up my mind I would tell no one. If I spoke about it, no one would believe me anyway. Nor did I want to stir up a vengeful response from the stranger wearing the boots. My silence would have to be enough to silence the stranger...trusting he would never return nor cause any harm.
It has only been about three years now since I have gotten the courage to tell anyone about that night. I finally told my mother and she was puzzled and asked why I had kept it a secret all these years. I have thought about that night throughout the years and still search for an explanation. Could a man in work boots have resided in the dark closet as I had dreamed so many times? Do I think God was protecting two little girls that night? Is that how I have faced the troubles in my life, fearing the unknown, holding on for dear life, and thanking God each day for his protection...while not daring to open my eyes to get a glimpse of the stranger known as my emeny? This is a true story. These questions remain for me to ponder.