It was too dark to see what caused the noise, but it was a real noise. Maybe Mommy was banging something around downstairs. Yeah, that was probably it, just Mommy downstairs.
Thump. There it was again. It wasn’t too loud, but it sounded loud enough to be nearer than downstairs. He had to face the fact that it came from inside his room.
Cameron held his breath, listening for any recurrence. If it didn’t happen again, it should be all right. Sometimes rooms just made a noise or two before settling down to sleep. But if it kept up, it was probably a monster, and monsters were the last thing you wanted in your bedroom on a dark night.
Thump. Okay, that was definitely in this room and it wasn’t just the house going to sleep. Cameron lifted the blanket over his nose. His body shook. If he kept shaking like this, he’d have to go pee, and that meant crossing the dark room and maybe bumping into something horrible.
Did the closet door just creak? It did. He thought so. Maybe it was just a breeze blowing it open. All his breath poured out as he remembered Mommy closing the window when she put him in bed.
This was bad. There was no explaining away the monsters tonight. They were here, and they would get him any minute. Cameron curled himself up tight, shivered, and waited for doom.
A sliver of light widened onto him from beyond his bedroom door. “Cameron?” a soft, comforting voice called. “Are you all right?” Daddy had developed a way of sensing when Cameron needed him.
Cameron breathed a sigh. “Daddy, I’m scared.”
“Would you like me to get in bed with you for a while?”
The light evaporated. Cameron felt his father’s weight on the mattress. “Shove over there, kid,” his father said. Cameron shimmied to let his father lay beside him. He pressed himself against his father’s strong chest and pulled a warm arm around him.
“It’s all right now,” his father whispered. “I’m here with you. I’m always here with you.”
Cameron let himself melt into his father’s strength. He didn’t hear any more noises. He didn’t even listen for them. Daddy was here and the monsters were gone.
Cameron woke to a room filling with sunshine. He was alone in his bed. His mother peeked her head into the room. “Cameron, breakfast is ready.”
He threw off the covers. “Coming.”
She smiled her almost-perfect smile at him. “Remember to brush your teeth.”
Cameron nodded. His mother went. As Cameron rose, his eyes turned to the picture on his dresser. It was of him and his dad, more than a year ago now. Cameron was much more grown up since then. His dad hadn’t changed one bit. In the dark last night he’d looked exactly the same.
Cameron stared at his smiling father in the picture and put his hand on his chest. “Thanks, for always being here, Daddy,” he whispered.
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