My brother used to make fun of me for checking underneath my bed. He would constantly tell me that I was too old, at my fourteen years of age, to be doing so and I would hate having to listen to him laugh at me while I settled my nerves by crawling on the floor and lifting up the skirt of my small twin bed that sat across the room from his.
I never liked sharing a room with my brother too much. He was pretty mean to me. I would tell Mom to talk to him about his picking on me, and she would say something to him from time to time, but there was never any real relief to it. He would just mutter some fake apology and then find yet another thing to make fun of me for. The checking under my bed was just the most common thing he would get on me about.
But most of the time, I would just ignore him and tell him “you should be happy that I check under there.” He would kick into an even harder laugh and reply with something about how I was a pussy and how I probably pull back the shower curtain before I took a shit too, which I certainly don’t.
At school the other day, a bunch of people from my class started to make some strange gestures at me, pointing under my desk and cracking up when I would look at wherever they were pointing. It didn’t take me long to realize that his was most likely my brother’s doing and that he had told the school about my nightly habits, prompting them all to tease me relentlessly. It even got to the point where one kid in my algebra class would sneak under the chair I was sitting in and grab my ankle to scare me, pretending to be the “monster” that lived below my mattress. I ignored it the best I could, but I would be lying if I said that it didn’t make the school day much more difficult.
When we got home, my mom asked what was wrong – I assume she could see on my face that I had had a really long day – but I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. Especially her. Nobody wants to admit to their mother that they had become the new laughingstock of the school and that it had come at the hands of their own brother.
I couldn’t take it anymore. Last night my brother said so many terrible things when I went down onto the carpet in our room to look – so many awful, cruel, and hateful things – that I just gave up and crawled back in bed without even a glance or glare beneath the furniture.
And now my brother can’t laugh anymore.
I wasn’t checking under the bed for my safety. I was just making sure that he was still there.
You see, the pale man that lived under my bed – the one I checked on for all these years – wanted him, not me.