Friday, April 9, 2010

Under the bed.

Under the bed. (Room #2)

dollhouse bed. 2010.

“MOMMY!” shrieks my hysterical four year old. Down the hall I run toward the small playroom to find Zooey standing upon the edge of the bed looking down. “Gilby is under the bed!” Every ounce of her energy is focused on my understanding of this situation. Feet become active participants. Every syllable is now followed by a thump of her heel. MAKE stomp HIM stomp COME stomp OUT stomp NOW stomp stomp. Beneath her weight the tiny bed frame shifts. 

“Honey, Gilby might be tired. Let’s give him a break for today. Alright?” I extend my right arm toward the pint sized version of myself. This isn’t the first time Gilby had misbehaved and Zo wasn’t getting her way.

“NO!! Mommy. Gilby was being mean today.” Pouts my little one as she uses both hands to gently pull at the pigtails in her hair. Taking my hand with a sigh out comes both feet and down she sits before me continuing the explanation. “I told him to stop and he took a bite out of Mrs. Honeywell. Then he stole the light from my dollhouse. Now I can’t see in the dark spaces anymore. And MOMMY, Gilby bit me too!”

“Zo, I understand. I can replace the light. And its better that Gilby doesn’t play anymore since he hurt you. I prefer he remains under the bed and takes a time out. Come on…”

“Mommy! LOOK at my hand.” Out comes the hand and where nothing should be there is a small reddened semi-circle. A mark that could only come from a bite. 

“Zo, darling, how did you get that?”

“Mom, Aren’t you listening? Gilby bit me.”

“But Zooey, Gilby isn’t real.”

Remembering the day Gilby first arrived is like recalling the beginning of school. Zooey spent all evening playing and dancing about her room in excitement. Her new dollhouse bed had just arrived that afternoon. Zooey set about the task of choosing the exclusive toys to reside in the spaces. Even after the line up had been selected it was imperative that she leave the lowest space open. As I tucked my Zooey in for the night the explanation began to unfold. According to my lovely daughter it belonged to someone already. She said, “He’s too shy to come out. All the moving scares him.” When I would ask ‘Who is too shy to come out?’ her reply was simply, “Oh I don’t know Mommy. He’s just scared.” 

Without any further discussion the matter seemed to drop. Until one day, Gilby was there. Gilby became the imaginary playmate of an independent four year old that never lacked for attention. A need that I’d never understood all of a sudden manifested to life. Asking for a seat at dinner. Playing catch the flag in the backyard. Living in Zooey’s dollhouse with a light left on for the shadows at night. An invisible little creature all nestled in my daughter’s mind for the simple comfort of companionship. 

Gilby was never an ordinary imaginary playmate. Zooey didn’t have tea parties with him. Or play with other toys or children. They would often seek out ways to be mischievous and at times even destructive. Tearing out the pages in a TV guide for the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday programming. Unplugging every lamp in the house. Watering the plants with bleach. Often the pranks seemed to be quite out of a child’s league but no one could assume there was more. Our neighbor Mrs. Felan attributed the destruction to a need for attention after Zooey and Gilby pulled up her prize winning Azaleas. “Nothing to worry it’s just a phase,” were the exact words of the doctor as he wrote out the bill for the broken fish tank in his waiting room. Gilby had become a phase I wasn’t prepared for.

“Mommy. He is real. Look under the bed.” Zooey quietly pleads with me in her whisper tone of voice. 

Fearfully I nod my head and approach the white base of the bed frame. Eyes lock onto the darkness and skillfully attempt to visualize anything. “AH!” The sound escaped faster than my brain could understand the shock of what I saw. Two small red slits behind an oversized rabbit beneath the bed. The shape of a small animal rises and falls frantically with scared breaths. An outline shaped by an overabundance of hair surrounding tiny eyes. 

“See Mommy, I told you. Gilby is real. Please make him come out now.”

“Zo, go to the kitchen and get me the broom.”

“Mommy, what are you going to do?”

“Zooey, get me the broom. I’m going to make Gilby come out now.”

Friends come into our lives for unexplained reasons. The need for friendship is often too great to be ignored. Even a child recognizes the need for a playmate. In some cases even to the point of imagining a playmate. What if you’re imaginary friend wasn’t imaginary? What if all the awful things he did really happened? I really liked this story idea. It's just a story! I’m contemplating digging in deeper. Consider this an excerpt. Maybe another stab at a child's story. I don't know. Oh and yes… Room 2. Sort of? I’m not dropping these in order. (and I'm not giving everything. just glimpses) Another room that’s not my favorite. The best part of this one, I made the headboard. It’s a dollhouse. Don’t ask.  But a little girl did want to live in this room. Oh and the bed… it’s not really a bed. I was crafty. Anyhow, I have three to finish writing tonight before crashing. Enjoy the story. m.

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