In our new house, I shared a bedroom with my baby brother, our beds tucked into opposite corners. We shared a routine of one last book before lights out. He slept in footed pajamas, inside a well, a fortress, that he meticulously built of his stuffed animals. The various cotton and velveteen species mounded around the oval border, and he curled up inside, pulling a blanket over them all. He chewed on the nose and ears of his favorite mouse until it was crushed and matted grey with saliva. I kept more order in my bed.
In our first year, I woke often in the middle of the night. I let my eyes wander the room’s walls and listened for Tuan’s breathing, then fell back asleep. But one night I woke up and could not fall back asleep. I thought something was making light outside the room, a light I didn’t like. I climbed down and slipped out into the hallway. Now I had to escape. I turned to face down the stairs and stopped.
On the stairs, not at the very bottom but too far away to touch me yet, was a Red Ball. It was enormous. It blocked the entire passageway and stood quivering ever so slightly, menacing me. Unable to move my feet, I sat down on the top step and whimpered, keeping my eyes open through the tears to keep the ball in sight. My mother woke and came to sit beside me. What’s the matter? She asked. I blubbered about the red ball and pointed, but when she turned her head, neither one of us could see it.