Every night as a child, I would part my curtains just enough that every car that passed would shine their headlights through the window, and cast eerie, sliding shadows on the wall. The lights would flicker, and faze in and out of focus for a few seconds before flashing on the brown, orange, and white zig-zag wallpaper that was the only decoration in my room. I was eight, I had just moved, and with a little bit of imagination, that room came alive.

The lighting made it easy to imagine that my walls were attached to a giant heart monitor that registered the pulsating movement within some obscenely large creature. If I stared long enough at one or two lines, they began to get wavy, and I often entertained the thought that if I just focused on keeping those two lines of rhythm from reaching me, I would somehow be safe.

I visualized whole scenes in which I was trapped in the bowels of the beast, and then I plotted my much exaggerated escapes. Usually said escapes involved some ninja action against seemingly insurmountable odds, and the strange inhabitants of my room. A stack of pillows became a 200 pound monster with dripping fangs and bulging muscles, and A coat draped over the back of my chair was a monster with bushy eyebrows and strange kinetic abilities. Sometimes I would make a fort out of blankets and sheets, and lie on my back with my head poking out one end, staring at the glow in the dark stars on my ceiling, and make-believing that they were holes in the monster from my faithful defenders (the bushes just outside).

I had to believe that there was someone looking out for me. . . I was eight, and impressionable, and I still believed that my parents WERE the world.

Eventually, my little day dreams started giving me nightmares, and my mom repapered the room in some suitably girly crap. . . But sometimes, even through the scent of the lilacs on my walls, I could feel the wind blowing an omen of the beast. I could see his eyes, watching me in the dark. I could feel him there with me. . . And then I realized that he was my best friend, and that he kept me company when it was dark. He chased away the monsters that lived under the bed. My best defender came from inside the monster.

I outgrew him, but I swear that he sometimes still visits me when I am alone. I will turn off my light, and he will be there in the shadow of my lava lamp, or the reflection of the christmas lights on my mirror.

He will be there in the shadows on the wall.

I leap through the shadows of my dreams, the toothpick on my bedside table from the restaurant I ate dinner at last night becoming a rapier of considerable wit on the wall beyond. The torchlight flickered behind my eyelids, as my enemy drew near.

Tonight, it was a well-armed weasel that came from the twisting maze of my mind to meet my metal sword, a slash of darkness across the stones. Quick on his feet, clicking as his claws contacted the flagstone floor, he lunged for my liver. I leapt through the patch of shadow nearest to me, circling around through another room to appear behind the wall that the torch hung from. My sword slipped through the wall and severed the sconce.

The weasel turned in fear as the torch clattered to the ground, guttering, allowing the shadows to swell and grow. It tried to relight the torch, but in that moment, I slipped through the new shadow on the wall and ran him through.

My opponent vanished, but his shadow lay on the floor, dark against the gray stone. I picked up the torch and lit it, waving it over the spot where his shadow lay. When I returned the torch to its sconce on the wall, the shadow hadn't left a trace.

Outside the light cast by the torch, I could return to slipping along the walls like water through a sieve. Here, in the shadows on the wall, I was invincible.

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