You can call me Michael.
It was nights like this when the sunny, summer heat had warmed the little room till the walls wanted to sweat and kept it hot until the wee hours of the night. On such nights her parents would insist that her window be opened to allow in the cool midnight air, and the boogeyman to enter. Of course, her parents would argue with her about the boogeyman, but she knew he would come. He always came to sleep under her bed and claw at her feet if they dare dangled from under the safety of her covers.
Her sheets were damp, her cheeks were streaked with her tear stains and her eyes were so puffy she could barely see the blue and white canopy as it blew over her head threatening to cover her face, wrap her up in its wind whipped arms and carry her out her bedroom window into the dark night. She put on her big bulky headphones in order to drown out the inevitable. Her music was always her friend even if there were no others.
“Well, it’s not far down to paradise, at least it’s not for me, and if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility.” Christopher Cross was singing just to her.
Even with her headphones on, she could still hear the argument raging outside her door. She could still hear her mother’s pleas to her father asking him to keep his voice down. She could hear the words that always cut her so deeply. She was desperate to block the battle out. She closed her swollen eyes to concentrate on the music. She listened hard. Eventually, the fight began to fade; the music was winning the war of her mind.
Slowly, as the music began to reach her she drifted with it, to the water. She started to feel the warm breeze of the ocean he sang of. She could taste the salty spray as it splashed her face and could picture herself standing on the bow of a beautiful sail boat as it cut through the white caped waves. The sun shining happily on her, kissing her skin and dancing across the shinny surface of the water.
She felt a smile creep across her face, but just as quickly as it had covered her lips it was gone.
“Sailing takes me away to where I’ve always heard it could be. Just a dream and the wind to carry me and soon I will be free.”
She wiped the tears from her eyes and tried to escape to the sail boat again.
Somehow she had found sleep, but she had dozed off while still crying. Her eyes hurt as she blinked away the tears that still moistened her lashes. She breathed in deeply, the air catching in her lungs as it skipped up her throat and escaping from her lips. She could hear the faint sound of Landslide by Stevie Nicks, playing in the background, as she realized she hadn’t yet turned her music off.
She rolled to her side to hit the off button on her music player as she removed her headphones from her ears. She opened her eyes and immediately realized she was not alone. A strange, yet oddly familiar person was standing in her room. A man, well, a young man, was watching her. No sound came from him, not even a breath, as he stood silently at the foot of her bed. Arms to his side, his faded, comfortable, brown duster hung motionless on him and his hat, she thought, was funny- looking. It looked like a ball cap, but not like the boys wore today, more like one from a long, long time ago.
She rolled to her back again while not removing her eyes from him. Her heart was racing quietly within her. Her eyes were wide open, ears perked up listening intently for any sounds. Her nose twitched while she fought back what felt like a sneeze. Something was tickling her senses. The smell was oddly failure but what was it? she thought to herself.
Soon it came to her “Dust.” She nearly let the word burst out from her lips. She could smell dust.
With his gaze still upon her, she looked carefully around her room, wondering if she was actually awake. The clock was showing 2:29am. The window was still open and her curtains were waving with the light breeze as it blew in. The nightlight from the hall that would guide her little brother to the bathroom as it did each night, still shown under her doorway. Yes, she definitely was convinced she was awake.
“Who are you?” she asked him softly. “You don’t look like a Boogeyman… Do I know you?”
He smiled at her, from deep within, not from his eyes, more from his soul, yet nothing else came from him. No sounds, no movement, no expressions, just that unmistakeable hunt of dust. She noticed as he stood before her, a dim yellow glow that surrounded him like a warm blanket. His face, although, completely covered with the shadow of his cap, was very familiar to her. She was fairly certain she had not seen him before tonight and yet she undoubtedly, knew him and she was not afraid.
She felt a presence of peace wash over. She was warm, comfortable and strangely happy. She took a good long deep breath and exhaled with it, all the heartache she’d carried her whole young life. She knew with him standing guard that the boogeyman she feared so much, would not come for her tonight. She closed her eyes, snuggled into her warm bed and just before the last grain of sand was sprinkled from the sandman’s bag as she fell asleep, she heard the man say, “You can call me Michael and I am always with you.”