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Essays by Karen Anderson: Dragons Under the Bed

Illustration by Kacie Brown

Even with the fan going, the temperature in the bedroom must be close to 90. “Are you sure you want to sleep with that sheet on?” I asked my daughter.

“Yes,” Sara said in her little-girl voice. I rarely heard that voice anymore now that she was a married adult living another city. I enjoyed her visits and this chance to tuck her into bed.

“That sheet makes you feel safe, doesn’t it?” I said.

“It protects me from dragons under the bed,” she said, laughing. We both laughed, remembering when we used to check for dragons every night.

“Have you checked?” I asked. “Maybe they’re gone for good now.”

“I don’t think they’re ever gone,” she said. I thought about it, the strange comfort of a sheet. Although we knew—probably even as children—that no cotton sheet could ever protect us from a dragon, we nonetheless felt safer.

We still feel safer, even as adults who know there are no dragons. There are plenty of other things to be afraid of, and those fears always seem larger when the lights go out and shadows gather. “Silly, isn’t it.” Sara said.

“I don’t know,” I said, “I don’t think so.”

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.