You’re laying alone in bed, and a chill consumes your body. You scan the room, fear creeping into your bones. A tingling sensation floods over your skin – as if you’re being watched by something, or someone. You can’t possibly fear the dark, no, it must be something else. You look across the room at the slightly ajar closet. Your breathing quickens and you hide underneath your blankets wondering if there is a monster in there. This is absurd, you believing that monsters are in your closet. You’re an adult after all, and you haven’t feared monsters behind closed doors since you were a child. 

Back then you feared your father coming home. He would shout outside your bedroom door, a fermented odor infused into his breath. An odor that covered the house most nights and followed him in his unsteady trot out into the night. His eyes always held a glossy dull craze. You feared what he would do to you if you were caught up late, or if he saw you at all in that state. Although, if it wasn’t you he was beating, it would have been your mother. In those days, your mother would not leave the house due to the purple bruises that lined her arms and legs. So you stayed up late to be a savior just like the man on the crucifix you remember your mother talking to every night. She asked the man to save us and to save your father. That man on the crucifix must have lost his hearing up there, for her prayers were never answered. Or maybe it’s because your father didn’t deserve saving so the man chose not to save either person. Supposedly he already saved us once, so why must he need to save us again? Back then, the bedroom door held the monsters back, and the closet acted as a sanctuary for getting away. A place to hide when the monster got through and the shielding of your blankets weren’t enough. Although you were only a child then. 

Now you are an adult who has played life’s game. You got caught up with the law for contraband as a teen and have a long list of MIPs. You only did it to make a quick buck so you could get out of the house. You got out alright, but you were thrown into the Big House a few days here and a few weeks there in the years following. Now you are an adult with a wife and kids, who decided to stay at your mothers in law’s for the night. You are an adult hiding behind the protection of a blanket infused with a fermented odor. You will not act like a child any longer. 

You pull off the blanket, step out of bed, and go towards the slightly opened closet. Cautious, as not to fall over, for you tend to feel off balance this late at night. You travel an unsteady line across the pitch-black room and yank the closet door ajar. In the closet you see nothing but a mirror – with your father’s eyes staring back at you. 

Matthew N. Marroquín is a Salvadorian-American writer, spoken word performer, and slam poet from the cornfields of Storm Lake, Iowa. He attends Buena Vista University where he is attaining a degree in theatre and media performance. Marroquín’s writing reflects identity, culture, advocacy, and unheard or unvoiced perspectives. If you wish to see more of Matthew Marroquín, you can find him on Instagram at vida_marroquin.

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