I suffer from an overactive imagination, a problem that began in childhood. I would have said in grade school, because somehow grade school seems the proper place for imagination, but it would be a lie. Imagination happened to me long before.
I first remember it haunting me at bedtime. I, no more than four or maybe five years old, lie awake long after sleep should have wrapped me in warmness. Fortunately I was born into a house of tacky wallpaper left-over from a decade gone by. Nothing sparks imagination like green paper walls with the tiniest patterns of white dots and squiggled lines. I don’t remember the exact print though. What I do remember are dragons with white fire for breath and little old creepy ladies sure to pinch off more my than my chubby child cheeks. All I could see were shapes that came alive just long enough to capture my heart, mind, and soul in an awake dream. Perhaps that’s when I began sleeping with the light on.
I didn’t turn off the light until I’d birthday’d my way into double digits, but please don’t tell anyone. It’s my parent’s fault really. They moved us, and my new room had white paneling with wood knots that conjured up all sorts of evil villains intent on stealing my peace and filling my young mind with stories more heart-twisting than any fairy-tale. If truth be told, and I must tell the truth (my mommy made me), my parents aren’t really be to blame, even if they did genetically pass the I’msoscaredIcan’tevenscream gene.
rushing up and crashing into nearing middle-age point in life, I am tempted to say God made me this way; however, long ago in Sunday School, I learned to fear no evil. I am left alone with no-one to blame, except maybe Hollywood, chill-thriller authors, my husband, and that darn loose window pane in the basement. They did it to me. They made my over-active imagination work in triple-speed last night – All Hallow’s Eve.
I painted my face, kicked through every fallen leaf in town, and plucked chocolate from my daughter’s goodie bag. I tricked-or-treated, so I thought. What really happened is that I treated and was tricked, tricked by the beanie-weenies I ate too late into the night. Chest pain drove me from my snuggled spot in the blankets. I plodded down dark stairs in search of Roll-Aids and the fire. I should have stayed warming my hands by the wood stove and chewing my chalk candies, but the lure of the television drew me to the couch. My husband’s imagination can be turned on and off at will, so he has no trouble being thrilled by the big screen. I suffer from an overactive imagination. I told him so, repeatedly, but he laughs it off. Imagination is not to be scoffed. It is to be coddled by day, repressed after the sun sleeps, and feared into the night. Imagination thrives on fiction, but feeds on truth.
From the moment my backside touched the couch cushion, I knew I should march right back upstairs and battle my burps in solitude, but I stayed and watched. They called him BTK, the Wichita serial killer. His gruesome man and woman slaughters made the zombie-esque painted blood I wore earlier look like children’s fun. Dennis Rader was caught in 2005 and is serving ten consecutive life sentences, but I could have sworn I saw him standing in the shadows of my bedroom. Every time I tossed and flipped my pillow, I thought of him and all the terrible ways he could slowly torture me to death. My mind is much more creative at three o’clock in the morning than I suspected. When I finally swatted my alarm clock into silence at six-thirty this morning, I swore never to watch television again. I also contemplated mental therapy and mind rehabilitation.
Last night my thirty-six year-old self could have been six. I looked over my shoulder and raced back into bed after a quick trip to the potty. I tried to throw the blankets over my head and pretend I was invisible. I saw shadow images dancing on the walls and lurking behind my curtains. I closed my closet door so the boogie-man couldn’t get out. I feared an uncertain evil was waiting for a prime opportunity to gobble me up. I allowed my overactive imagination to run wild. I’m just thankful I don’t have patterned wall-paper anymore or else I’m sure the fire-breathing dragon would have melted me before sunrise.
My name is Tricia. I have an overactive imagination.