I stared at him in both wonder and confusion. “Why don’t you want to go to sleep?” I asked.
My son looked up at me with tears in his eyes and answered, “Every time I sleep, he comes for me. I don’t want to see him anymore! He’ll take me away!” He started bawling and rubbing his face into my shirt, weeping uncontrollably.
I glanced over at my wife, who smiled and shrugged helplessly. Groaning, I proceeded to lift my son up into my arms, and carry him upstairs.
When we reached his bed, he stared up at me and almost whispered, “He’s going to get me if I go to sleep again, Daddy.”
I took it as random babbling of a six year-old boy who claims he’s not tired enough to sleep. “Mikey, you have to sleep. It’s good for you.”
“No!” He hollered back. “I’ve been staying awake for a long time now, and I’m doing just fine!”
When he said that, I was instantly reminded of how a few weeks ago, Mikey’s mental state had been declining. He had become more aggressive at school, and was almost bound to fall apart at home the same day. But after last night’s movie, and after Mikey had fallen asleep on my lap, I didn’t think much of it except for him being extremely drained.
“What are you talking about Mikey? You feel asleep yesterday.”
“That’s when he came!” More tears started streaming down his face. “Don’t make me go to sleep!”
“Me and your mother are very tired right now, so go to sleep,” I demanded. “When you wake up tomorrow, we’ll talk about this ‘he’ you keep talking about.”
He squeezed my hand in one final plea. His eyes were filled to the brim with tears as he managed to utter, “Don’t let him take me.”
“Go. To. Sleep,” I replied without remorse.
He frowned, then retreated under his covers as I strolled downstairs. I didn’t hear anything else from him that night.