[WP] I’m not afraid of what’s hiding in the dark. I’m afraid of what it’s hiding from.

Once, I was afraid of what hid in my closet. My parents never believed me of course, always thought that the sliding closet doors was just the house settling, or one of us forgetting to close it before bedtime.

But I knew.

Once, I grew angry enough to storm the closet, wanting to prove that I wasn’t lying. Teddy bear and a small, plastic baseball bat in hand, I walked to the closet door. As I opened the door, a hand shot out, long and skinny, covered in deep black fur, easily blending in with the shadows of my closet. It was no wonder it could stay hidden so easily, when it wanted to be. With its grotesque hand, with spindly fingers and curled nails, it covered my mouth, muffled my scream, to a complete silence.

The monster in the closet was real, but it wasn’t there to eat me like I always thought it was. When I tried to back away, it gently grasped my shoulder with its other hand, holding me there with little effort, despite my struggling. The closet door slid open fully, and while I couldn’t entirely make out its features, hidden by fur and god knows whatever else, I could see its eyes.

They were pleading.

Its eyes were full of fear, and a third arm reached up to put a skinny finger to its lips, shushing me in a quiet way. Somehow, someway, it calmed me. Gently, it pushed my head to look the other way – not towards the door, but to the window. Through the curtains, I could see a silhouette, and two orange glows. The glows turned elsewhere, and disappeared into the night. The monster turned my head back to it, and it was then that I noticed how it was quaking.

This monster, this fiend who hid inside of my closet and tormented me for years, was shivering in complete and utter fear of whatever was beyond my bedroom window.

Then I knew not to fear the monster in the closet, or the one under my bed, nor the one in my attic, for they were simply seeking shelter like any animal would seek safety from an apex predator. The monster in my closet opened to door to keep an eye on me, to comfort itself. The monster under my bed synched its breath with mine while I slept, listening to the sound of my quiet heartbeat to sleep tight. The monster in the attic, creeping through the vents and walls, observed my sleeping face like a mother would her child, comforted by my peaceful expression.

To them, I was something like my teddy bear was to me. Of course, my parents still didn’t believe, simply thinking that it was just my imagination, a story conjured up by too many TV shows and a few too many horror stories from friends at school. But I knew.

I knew not to fear the monsters hiding in the darkest parts of my house, but what they were hiding from in the dead of night, on the outside.

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