An Unexpected Side-Effect of Aging

"Run."

I whisper this to my son, his body curled tightly into me.  "Run away, buddy.  Please, just as fast as you can.  Run!"

He looks up at me.  His huge brown eyes.  So scared.

Softly, my cheek pressed tight against his.  "Please, honey.  Run fast.  Mummy will follow you as soon as I can.  Okay?"  Biting my lip hard.  If I cry, he'll be more afraid.  He's already white, shaking.  "Show Mummy how fast you can run.  Okay?"

Our captor is distracted.  Rhythmically, purposefully, sharpening his knife.  He's not watching.  I'm praying inside as hard as I can to a God I'm not sure of.  Silent words from a church last attended over a decade ago.  Please.

I'm careful not to watch.  Careful not to draw attention to my son whose feet sound like foxes or squirrels, running fast as he can to the trees where he might be safe.  Where night-hunting animals would have terrified me for him.  Where he will be safer.

And then he falls.  Cries out loud like the preschooler baby he is.  My baby.  And then the man, our captor, stands.

This is what woke me at 2am this morning.  Then 4:30am.  Then 6am.  I was bone-tired exhausted after a day of clearing the summer clutter, helping Mike prepare green onion cakes, celebrating Thanksgiving until way-too-late, and then spending some time regrouping on the couch before bed.  Exhausted.

We have a big cable package at our house.  With an HD receiver, a few hundred channels, DVD, Blu-Ray, VHS, Wii, and a bunch of other black rectangular objects that ensure a decent viewing experience.  The entirety of it is usually closed up in the cabinet.  The doors open maybe a few hours a week for the kids, and maybe just a few more than that for the grownups.  But when we watch tv?  We watch tv.

Which means that I got to see all the upcoming slasher pic previews in soul crushing high definition with studio surround sound.  And because Halloween approaches, there are lots of them.  Including all of my favourite most terrifying childhood campfire tales.  Like The Hook (Munger Road) and Bloody Mary (Paranormal Activity 3).  And then?  I got to see a few minutes of Heath Ledger's unparalleled performance of The Joker before snuggling down in my sheets.

Yay, me!  (*whimper*)

Once upon a time, I read Stephen King, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz and Anne Rice at bedtime.  Watched all of the Friday the 13th movies, all of the Sleepaway Camp movies, all of the Nightmare on Elmstreet movies, Scream 1 and 2, and a hundred other forgettable chillers.  And then?  Then I slept like a teenager.  Like I sleep in The Jasper Park Lodge when my children are hours away and meals and laundry are done by someone who isn't me.

Now, I'm older.  I have a clear sense of my mortality and have read entirely too much Ann Rule to fully suspend my disbelief.

It started when I saw The Sixth Sense at Christmastime 12 years ago, and then needed my now-husband to walk me to the bathroom and wait outside the door so I wouldn't be alone when the dead people came.  I didn't sleep for a week.  I saw the first Grudge movie (and then the original with subtitles) and only had minor nightmares.  Mike and I went to see Signs at the theatre, and I actually quite enjoyed it.  And to be honest, the first time I saw The Dark Knight, I was so busy being stunned by Ledger's performance, I didn't have time to freak out.

My dreams have been so vivid, lately.  I wake with tears on my cheeks, or the taste of food in my mouth, or sit up laughing out loud.  When I was younger, that meant it was time to start writing, again.  Add another few chapters to my novel.  Split my fingers open writing hard into the night.

I haven't done that in years.

Maybe it's time.

In other news, it's Thanksgiving Monday and my kids have finished their gratitude wreaths.  Here they are with their sweet little fingers:

By Danica. Wherein she secures first placement in our will.

Danica is thankful for Lightning McQueen, trucks, her bed, her stuffed polar bear "Ben", her mum, her dad, and her Playmobil

By Shelton. Wherein he secures our continued support of Disney and craft supplies.

Shelton is thankful for his paintbrush, his name, his computer keyboards, the pictures he colours, his stuffed bear "Phil", his bed, his yellow crane truck, and Lightning McQueen.

And me?  I'm thankful for this life, in all of it's messy, stressful, dirty, glorious, hilarious, exhausting, invigourating glory.  It is a good life.  I am thankful that the very worst things still happen only in my dreams.

Especially today.

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