Monsters Under the Bed

When I was small, there were monsters under my bed.

Everything was fine during the day, because they were afraid of the light. Daddy would read my bedtime story and we’d say the Lord’s Prayer (that tranquilized them for a while), and he’d turn out my light and close the door three-quarters, and I would make very sure to stay exactly on top of my mattress and not let a toe or finger or piece of hair extend past the boundary, or the sharp little teeth would snip-snip. One night I slept with my head right next to the edge, and the piece of hair from my widow’s peak had draped down, and in the morning I was chastised for cutting my own hair. I had done no such thing.

When I was a bit older and Daddy no longer read me stories and tucked me in while I stared at my stylized modern floral wallpaper until they turned into a three-dimensional optical illusion, I would have to leap into bed as quickly as possible while I swung the door closed behind me. I was grateful that my little sister still needed the light in the hallway left on. The coloured glass panels around the single bulb, red and blue and amber, were enough light to keep the monsters deep in the shadows. They would burn at the slightest light. I still said my bedtime prayers, though without Daddy’s rock solid faith to undergird them, they were less effective.

When I got older again, I stopped believing in the monsters. I stuck my leg out over the edge of my bed for a whole minute and nothing happened, ergo, they were not real. I stuck out an arm, and my whole head. Still nothing.

When I was older still, I began to hear a whisper in the back of my head, so faint I could hardly make it out. I concentrated, but I couldn’t quite catch it. One day, after a week in which I was laid off, my boyfriend dumped me, and I got in a fender bender, I finally made out the words.

You’re a failure.

I was shocked, and told the whisper to be quiet. But it unsettled me, that such a damaging statement could come from within my own brain.

Over the next few years, I heard the voices more and more frequently. Every time I flubbed a job interview, every time I had a failed first date, every time my mom phoned to ask how I was doing with that extra special tone of voice that implied that she was disappointed in me. I didn’t have to strain to hear it anymore.

You’re a failure.

Finally, broke and depressed, medicated to gills and on the edge of a serious alcohol problem, I moved home. My room was still the same. Still the same modern floral walls. Still the same textured grey-brown carpet. Still the same red-amber-blue light fixture.

Same twin bed. I looked at it through my foggy brain, in which the only clear thing I had left was the whispered voice, louder than ever.

And I knew where they had come from.

 

Helpdesk

Hello, this is Helpdesk, can I help you?

Yes! Oh thank goodness, I’ve been trying to get through for hours. I was about to give up.

Yes, that sounds right. We only respond when people are close to total collapse.

…Oh. Okay. Well, can you help me?

Let’s find out. What do you need help with?

Um… It’s kind of hard to put into words.

Take your time, but please be aware that there are three hundred people on hold currently and we cap your call at ten minutes.

Right. Well, I’m just feeling overwhelmed. Depressed, I guess. Yeah. I’ve been having a lot of bad thoughts and I don’t know where else to turn.

Depressed, you say? Are those bad thoughts about hurting yourself?

Yeah, yeah I guess so.

That’s too bad. Can we go through a quick checklist so I can figure out how best to help you?

Sure.

Any changes in your sleeping patterns?

Yes, I can’t sleep at all anymore. I just…

Just a yes or no answer will do, thanks. Changes in your eating habits?

Yes, I’m not really eating either.

Just yes or no please. Has your personal hygiene gotten worse?

Yes.

Do you have any social contact anymore?

No.

Any family to help you?

No, they cut off…

Please, spare me. Okay, I think I have a picture now.

You do?

We are currently offering a special where someone can come to your house and stay with you indefinitely, making you meals, cleaning your space, and working through your problems. This person would be authorized to acquire pharmaceutical medication to help you recover your sense of equilibrium, and in addition to drug therapy, they would be equipped to offer touch therapy, talk therapy, meditation practice, personal training, and life coaching.

Oh wow, that sounds amazing. How much does it cost? I’m afraid to ask.

Don’t be. It’s free.

Seriously? Okay, can I get that service then?

Certainly. We’re currently booking seven years from now. Does Thursday March 31st work for you?

Seven years from now?

Yes.

Seven?

Yes, I just said that.

Um… is there anything I can get sooner? Like this week? I’m really feeling like I’m at the end of my rope and I’m trying not to do anything drastic.

No, sorry, even our basic packages are booking next year.

Shit. I was really expecting that you could help me.

Was this your last resort?

Yeah, basically. I mean, like I said, I don’t have anyone else to call.

Well, there is one other service that we offer.

Why didn’t you say before? What is it?

We can dispatch someone within five minutes.

…To do what?

Would you like this service?

You haven’t explained what it entails.

You’re a smart girl. Figure it out. Would you like this service?

I… I have to think about it.

Your call is nearly over. You must make a decision. You know that by calling Helpdesk, you agreed to accept our services.

So it’s this mystery service, or wait for seven years?

Eight years now. Fifty-seven more people signed up while you wasted my time.

Shit. Shit. I don’t know what to do.

Shall I sign you up then?

I don’t think I can wait that long though.

Alright. Your time is up. Dispatching now. Thank you for using Helpdesk, and have a nice day.

No! Wait! I don’t want…

*click•