Copyright © 2015 Ben Kesp
The fox’s bark echoes across the farm yard amplified by the silence of the night. He wraps his blanket higher over his head fearing it might enter his bedroom. His home is nestled between mature oak and ash trees towering like giants protecting it against the harshest of winter storms. But their shapes silhouette in the full moon casting long shadows over his bedroom window. Even through closed curtains, the movement of their long wooden arms is visible as if trying to claw their way into his bedroom. The night is a scary time for seven-year-old Tommy and a different world from the brightness of the day where safety is all around. The absence of light brings new sounds that conjure the most frightening of scenes.
The old sideboard in the hall creaks, the sound reaching the slightly ajar bedroom door, followed shortly by a sound from the kitchen. Settling noises, his mother told him; the furniture cooling after the day. Jumping on the sudden sound of the fox’s bark, he sits upright on his bed. It is outside his window, and he now feels grateful for being on the first floor, giving some comfort to be out of reach and away from the creature below. He visualises its red coat and long narrow snout full of sharp teeth waiting to bite into its prey.
Lying down once more, he covers the blanket around his head, thinking of his class in school where he has learned about the local wildlife. The fox is one he has particular interest in, mostly coming out by night stealing hens from the safety of their nests as they sleep. The badger, a ferocious creature of the night, frightens him, not daring to meet it, fearing it would bite his ankle and hold its bite until hearing the bones of its victim crack before releasing. A twig, Tommy was told to carry should it ever happen, and snap it, fooling the badger. He wishes not to be in a position to fool a badger.
He loves learning, but at times, he wishes he didn’t know so much. Squeezing his eyes, he forces his body to sleep, but it refuses with images of creatures walking around his home, rambling through the old trees, peering in through the windows. A sound on the stairs reaches his ears. His breathing quickens. More settling noises, he reassures himself. Nothing has entered his home, crawling its way upwards towards his bedroom door at the top of the landing. The grandmother clock in the hall strikes two. Many hours to go before morning when he will rise to the morning sun glowing bright, filtering in through his green curtains resting with a bright shape of the window in the centre of the room.
A screech echoes, sending a shiver through his body. It’s not a fox! He hasn’t heard it before! He lifts his head over the blanket staring onto the curtains seeing the outline of the window through the silvery light of the moon. The old oak tree nearest to his bedroom moves its leaf covered arms slightly under the gentle breeze of the night. Again the screech! His heartbeat quickens and his breathing deepens. Is he brave enough to investigate? Curiosity takes over as he wishes to know what this strange new sound is. Removing the blankets, he sits upright contemplating the next move of stepping across the room towards the window, fearing what he might see.
He counts to ten before placing his feet on the bedroom floor. He moves slowly towards the window that will expose him to the mysteries of the night. Reaching the curtains, he stops. Listening. Silence greets him. Placing a finger between the curtains, he gently pulls them apart but hesitates to push his head between them towards the window pane. He finds the courage and pushes forward, resting his face close to the pane. The moon gently watches over his home, shining her silvery light on him. A light scattering of cloud whisks across the sky. Stars soon become visible to his staring eyes, twinkling down on him.
It’s a new world by night and unknown to him. Moving his eyes downwards, he places them onto the garden that is not covered by the dark shadows of his giant tree friends. Peaceful by day and sinister by night, hiding the unknown in their dark shadows. Who or what is staring upwards at him? Light pierces the darkness of the trees, the eyes of long legged creatures rising upwards from the ground wrapping themselves around the mossy covered barks. Disappearing by daylight beneath the soft grassy floor. Straining his eyes, there’s nothing to be seen. His football rests where he left it, sitting next to the rhubarb patch. A shadow catches his eye, and he spies a white bird emerge from the darkness of the trees moving silently towards the barn. How wonderful it must be to explore the darkness of the night and its creatures if only he was brave enough to do so! For now, the safety of his home and his bedroom on the first floor brings security.
Retreating to the warmth of his bed, he pulls the blanket once more around his head. Sleep creeps in through heavy eyes. The morning will soon arrive sending the world of the night away for another day. How different everything will look in the morning; but for now his dreams will carry him through the world of the night where he will no longer lie awake frightened of its foxes, its darkened mysteries and conjured images of strange creatures.
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