When I was ten, I slept with a loud old wooden box fan at the head of my bed, pretending it was a rumbling old truck that, every night, kidnapped me, taking me far away from my father. It was a two-ton Reo, green, like the ones I saw across the road at the Army base. Miles away it took me as I slept, but when I woke, I was still there in that bed, in that house of pain. Morning brought the light and I could go outside, away from the house to ease the fear.
By the time I was 13, I could maneuver the night; a quick cat, in kid's clothes, scaling walls and trees in quiet escape. No matter how late at night, as soon as the front door knob clicked open, I was up and gone; in winter weather, I had a ready place inside the closet, beneath a blanket, knees to chin, quiet breath. Not my first choice, closets are inferior hideouts, there’s only one way out. Many nights, I crawled out the window and slept on the flat roof, safe above the ground. There were too many other nights that I had to run to the field beside the Boys’ Club, within a copse of trees, away from cruising police cars, waiting, waiting for dawn to bring light to my world. I could not sleep out there; there might be monsters, but they were less dangerous than my father when he came home drunk, angry, and looking for a fight.
I still sleep with a fan beside my bed, a habit now, but necessary to sleep at all. The slightest noise wakes me and I do a check around the house. My family is sound in sleep, and I will sit for a moment, listening to a child’s breath; a child asleep in a dream with no trucks; simply sleep as it should be; so very different than mine. It’s not much, but it’s everything I wish for them.