"There's that noise again," I said to myself. It happened every night as I was crawling into bed. I was trying to stay calm, but it wasn't easy. |
"Mom, the monster's back!" I shouted. I knew what she was going to say. She said it every night. "You're eight years old now. Kids your age need to get over being afraid of monsters."
As usual, before she stepped into the room, the noise stopped. "You're eight years old . . ." she started.
"Mom, listen to me. There's a scary noise in here," I told her again. "It goes Clunk, thunk all night. It's not real loud, but it's there. And it sounds louder when everything else is quiet. Why don't you stay with me once? You'll see for yourself."
It was no use. Mom needed her sleep. She couldn't sit on a chair in my room all night. She had to be wide awake at work. She reminded me how important her job was for both of us.
It was true. Since Dad left, we both needed Mom's job. At least we had a nice little apartment on the ground floor. I could run right out our door and play with the other kids on the playground.
So, OK, Mom needed her sleep--but so did I. I had to be wide awake at school. But it was hard to sleep with all that scary clunking going on.
NIGHT AFTER NIGHTI kept a flashlight by my bed. Sometimes I would grab it when I heard the noise. I would crawl way under the covers. Then I'd peek out and shine it all around the room. I never saw anything. Ever. But the noise came and went the whole night. Every night.
So every night when I would finally get to sleep, I'd dream about monsters. Usually they were like the monsters in one of my computer games. Only I couldn't zap them with my joy stick. Finally I'd wake up shaking. And what would I hear? Thunk, clunk, THUNK!
Sometimes I couldn't help it. I'd call my mom or I'd run to her bedroom. She'd give me a hug and help me calm down. Then she'd say something about my being eight. Groan!
TRADING PLACESAt last I got a bright idea. I talked Mom into trading places one night. She slept in my bed and I slept in hers.
Ha! The next morning, guess what? She'd heard the noise. At last! She said she was sure it wasn't a monster. It was more of a mystery. We'd just have to solve it, she said.
Well, that made me feel a little better. A mystery was more fun than a scary monster. But how were we going to solve it? I had no idea.
MORE TO THE MYSTERYOne night I heard some squeaky-creaky noises too. Thunk, squeak, eep, eek. That made it even more mysterious.
The next weekend I was outside our apartment playing kickball with the neighbor kids. I pitched the ball to the best kicker in our building. Suddenly I lost interest in the game. My teammates got mad at me for walking away.
But I had seen something so amazing, I had leave. I saw a squirrel disappear under my bedroom window! I walked closer to the window. There was a little hole under it. It didn't look big enough for a squirrel to squeeze into. But a few minutes later, a surprised squirrel came out of the hole. It didn't expect to see such a big face staring into the hole.
I ran to get Mom and my flashlight. Sure enough. There were some babies squirming around in a nest inside the hole. Their eyes weren't even open. But they squeaked and raised their heads when we shined the light on them.
"There's a space between the outside wall and the inside wall," Mom said. "So the `monster' couldn't get into your bedroom."
"Yeah," I replied, "but her noises sure could!"
That night I had no trouble going to sleep. I thought about the squirrel family in the space under the window. The mother was taking such good care of her babies--just the way Mom takes care of me!