When you are the eldest, at least at our house, there is almost always a crib in your room. I argued often with Mother over what could be wrong with this babe or that. Once, I insisted my baby sister was throwing up. Mother said, “No she just has a cough.” Once the lights were turned on, she found the crib sheets covered in vomit, just as I had said. In later years, my sister and I shared a room with day beds on opposite sides of the room, tucked neatly under the corners of a table. We would toss a nerf ball across the room to each other from our beds and tell each other secret things upon catching.
But long before I ever had a sister, I shared the room with my younger brother. There were bunk beds in the room. Since there was little danger that I would fall, I occupied the top bunk. The ceiling was flocked with “popcorn”, a white lumpy spackled surface covering common to ceilings, which contained a glitter like substance. I liked it very much. I studied it often and wondered at how it came to be up there and nowhere else in the house, such as walls, carpeting, window moldings, and the like.
One particularly warm summer night, mother cranked the window open a bit to let the breeze through the room. I had scarce slipped off to sleep when my brother below me started to cry for Mother. “A monster! Help! Moooommmmyyyyy!”
I leaned down to quiet him. He said, “There is a black monster in the window, and it said ‘baby boo!’”
I sat up, squinting my eyes and stared hard at the window. All I saw were the curtains billowing slightly. So I jumped down and turned on the light.
The curtains were moving! I screamed “Daddy! Help!” The bedroom door flew open, and my Father said, “What’s going on in here”.
“He saw a monster, and it said ‘baby boo’ to him!”, I said.
Dad grabbed the curtains and threw them back. There on the windowsill in our room was a small black cat. “Meow”, it said. “I’ll baby boo you all right”, said Dad. “Go back to bed.” He tossed the lost cat out the window and cranked it in a few notches.
I lay there on the top bunk contemplating the glitter in the popcorn like tiny stars, giggling “baby boo” to myself until I reached oblivion once again.