When I was a child, I was scared of the light.
As a baby, I would cry and cry unless the room was completely dark. My parents brought me to doctor after doctor, but they found nothing wrong. I was simply afraid.
I got older, stopped screaming every time the lights were turned on. It still made me anxious, though, and every time we’d go outside, I’d shut my eyes and bury my head in my arms.
It wasn’t until I started kindergarten that I realized why no one else feared the light like I did.
They couldn’t see the monsters.
I had a friend named Toby. He was also afraid of monsters, but he thought they lived in closets and under beds, and only came out in the dark, when they could hide.
I told him that was silly. Monsters didn’t live in closets, and darkness didn’t conceal them. It killed them.
You see, the monsters were made of light.
They twisted and writhed around light bulbs and candles. They slithered up arms from cellphone screens and would burrow into your eyes if you stared at a television for too long. They huddled around night lights, hiding from the dark, and glared at you, safe in bed, waiting for morning to come so they can get you.
And the sun.
Oh, the sun.
They taught us in school that it was a star. They were wrong.
It was an eye.
The eye of a great beast, all scales and teeth and claws, that wrapped around the earth and enveloped the sky. Blue and gold tentacles reached down to caress the earth and commune with it’s smaller brethren. Every night it burst into flames, a beautiful display of reds and oranges, dying a slow, agonizing death. Every morning, it was reborn from the ashes.
I could hear it screaming.
Toby couldn’t handle the truth. It gave him nightmares, which caused his parents to complain to the school, who recommended that my parents take me to a psychiatrist, who recommended exposure therapy.
On a summer day when the sun was horrifically bright, my parents and the psychiatrist brought me outside. I fought with every bit of strength I had, but I was outnumbered, and six years old. They tried to calm me down. They told me the light would not hurt me.
They were wrong.
With no darkness in sight, I had no choice but to see the monster in the sky. I looked into its eye.
It looked back.
It saw me.
I saw its rage, its malice, its hunger.
I realized then, with relief and despair, there was no point in being afraid. If that creature wanted to hurt me, it would. I could do nothing against a being of that magnitude. What was the point of avoiding the little ones, when the Great One above could consume the entire world at any moment?
I stopped fighting. I stopped screaming. My parents were happy. They thought the therapy had worked, that I had realized there was nothing to be afraid of.
The opposite was true.
But there’s no point in fearing the inevitable.
So, don’t fear the light.
But don’t stare at the sun for too long.
You might find it staring back.
Grace Jenkins is a writer, lover of stories, and a student at the University of British Columbia. Her short story “The Ones Who Never Were” has been published on the UBC AMS Writer’s Guild website as the runner-up for their March contest.