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As a child, it made sense

to fear the dark.

Even before my sight blurred,

rendering every nighttime excursion to the bathroom

a tiny trial in terrifying, abstract shapes,

I knew.

The night, the dark—

That was the time, the place

for monsters.

That’s where they belonged.

I thought it was where they would stay.


I grew to know the monsters

who lurked within the day.


I was twelve

when a monster,

disguised as a house guest,

tried to devour me.

He hovered, observing me—his prey.

He thought my shape, my body, was his to claim,

even as my family gathered in the living room below.

I ran; he pursued.

But we were on my turf;

I outsmarted this particular monster,

sounded the alarm,

and he was banished.

—But even then,

I was asked whether I’d made a big deal

out of nothing.

A few whispers, an uninvited kiss, hands like a vice on my wrist.

In the grand scheme, had I really been hurt?

So the seed was planted:

Don’t overreact to a monster;

They mean no harm

as they invade.


Of course,

I knew of another monster.

Its legacy was branded

into my skin.

I knew to fear it

when my father traveled for work

straight into this monster’s favorite breeding ground.

Please, come home—and don’t go out at night.

I have avoided this monster by sheer luck

and by subservience.

I bow, I cower, I apologize,

I aim to take up as little space

—physically, emotionally—

as possible.

Better to feed the monster

by convincing it I’m not a threat

when the only life in danger

is mine.

But still,

I see this monster—

a glint in the eye of someone watching

as I walk through the streets,

hand in hand with my monster-skinned husband.


The only positive had been

that even these daytime monsters

knew it was in their best interest

to hide

to sneak

to move unassumingly.

Their terrible ways weren’t civilized.


But now . . .

These monsters are emboldened.

They feel justified.

They think they can walk in the light

for all the world to see.

Because a man who claims to be one of their own

holds the reins.


And he is certainly some sort of monster,

preying on us all.


I wish I could go back to a time

when I only had the dark to fear.

But I know too much now.

I’ve seen too much.

I’ve felt too much.

And I know a night light

won’t fix this.

N. Alysha Lewis

N. Alysha Lewis is an editor and blogger with author aspirations whose love can absolutely be bought with french fries.

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