“Go back to bed. You can’t sleep with us. You have your own room.”
Miranda looked all around her parents’ room.
“Mommy, there’s a troll after me. He wants to eat me.”
“It’s just your imagination, Miranda. Trolls aren’t real. They’re just in stories.”
“They ARE!” Miranda began to cry. “Trolls ARE real!”
“Mumble, mumble, mumble,” said Miranda’s father, translated to, “Let her in bed so we can get some sleep!”
“You know, Tom, I don’t believe in children sleeping with parents! It’s not healthy!”
“Mumble, mumble, mumble,” translated to, “I don’t give a good god-damn what you believe, I have to work tomorrow.”
Miranda crawled into bed beside her mom, but her mom made sure Miranda would NOT be comfortable. She gave her six inches on the edge of the bed. Miranda lay wide-eyed, awake, waiting. She was sure the troll had followed her and was right UNDER the bed waiting for her to put a leg outside the covers. Then the trolll would GRAB it and drag her down, pull her under the bed and take her through a secret doorway in the floor to the netherworld where he would cook and eat her.
The sun hit the huge roses — or were they peonies? — on the bedroom drapes. The light was golden and brief.
Miranda’s mother moaned, “Morning already?”
“Don’t worry, kitten. I’ll fix breakfast for the kids.” Miranda’s father kissed his wife on the cheek, sat up and ambled to the bathroom in his shorts and t-shirt. He washed and shook his head awake. “What a NIGHT,” he thought. “I’ll be so happy when Miranda gets through this nightmare phase.”
He returned to their bedroom, got dressed for work — all but his suit jacket — and went to the kitchen. He made coffee, put water on to boil for mush, waking up bit by bit as the sun rose higher. “Where are the kids?” he wondered. They were always awake the minute the sun peeked over the edge of the world. Miranda usually let her little brother out of the crib and they came running to the kitchen to “help.”
The coffee perking, the mush boiling, he went to wake up his children. Jordan was standing in his crib, waiting to be let out. “C’mon big fella. There you go, now go to the bathroom while I get your big sister.” Jordan hugged his dad around the neck and ran to the bathroom.
Tom found Miranda’s bedroom door open, but no Miranda anywhere.
“That’s right,” he thought. “She slept with us last night.” He went back to his bedroom and quietly opened the door. “Honey,” he said, “did Miranda sleep with us all night?”
“What? What is it, Tom?”
“I don’t know. She had a bad dream. She went back to her room about 4 or so.”
“She’s not there now.”
“She’s hiding. She thinks that’s funny. Look under her bed.”
“OK. Go back to sleep.”
Tom went back to his little girl’s room. “Miranda, this isn’t funny. Come on out now. Your mush will be burned.” He looked in the closet, behind the door, beside her dresser. Finally he moved her bed and underneath it he found not his daughter but a trap door with a tiny doorknob made of lava.