Alone at Midnight
By Jane Thornton –
Gaze darting hither and thither, I stretched my lids as wide as possible. Midnight, alone in my bedroom. In the basement.
I’d been fine while huddled under the covers reading. But frequent yawns nagged me to get some sleep. School would come bright and early. As soon as I laid my novel on the bedstand, fear whispered in my ear.
Shadows thickened. Something rattled in the hallway. My drowsiness vanished and nerves screamed to take cover. Just outside my door on the right, loomed the cavern of the staircase. To the left lurked the fearsome portal to the dangers of the outdoors during the witching hour.
My choices were slim. To find haven with my parents, I’d have to scramble up the dark steps and traverse the length of the house, which included wall-to-wall, gaping windows. My sister’s room was much nearer, but I’d have to pass the outside door. Neither option appealed. Still, I needed to be near a live, breathing person. If I didn’t find refuge, my heart would burst from my chest.
I gathered all my nerve (and my teddy bear). Taking a gulp of air and holding it to sustain me through my flight, I leapt from my bed and clambered across the landing, throwing a wild glance at the outside door. I skidded around the corner and raced for Nancy’s room. Slithering to a stop (on the side of the bed farthest from the door), I panted and tapped my soundly sleeping sister’s shoulder.
“Nan,” I hissed. “Can I get in bed with you?” I poised with my fingers already grasping the blanket.
“No.” The muffled voice was grumpy.
“Please!” Tears choked my throat as I begged. “I won’t take up much room, I promise.”
After much pleading, combined with threats, she grudgingly allowed me three inches on the edge of the mattress. I lay with my hand literally dangling to floor to support most of my weight. But I was satisfied to feel safe.
Over the years, I have been blessed to have little legitimate cause for real terror. A couple of brushes with Peeping Toms encompass the extent of the menace I’ve faced. Most of my scares have been experienced vicariously with characters of books.
Snuggled securely in my armchair, I like to ponder how I would react to a true threat. Forgetting my hysterical reactions to eyes at the window and bumps in the night, I prefer to give myself credit for great potential bravery. I look ahead to the worst that could happen and imagine I could handle it.
My confidence and logic might not hold up in the heat of the moment – if I ever have to face it. But even if I melt into a quivering puddle of incoherency, my faith rests on a kernel of truth. Whatever I face, God will be with me. And when all perils end, I will be with Him.
“Because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5b-6)