birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

The Bogeyman

Turquoise. That’s the color I wanted the color of my room in our new house to be. I told everyone—my mother, my father, the real estate agent, everyone—I wanted my room to be turquoise. I have no idea now what my turquoise phase was about back then, but I remember today the desire for turquoise was real and strong.

I got pink. I don’t know if it was the decorator who turned our house into a Jetson’s wonderland was to blame or if it was my mother’s idea. My big upgrade for the new house was to get twin beds instead of the small day bed I’d slept on since my crib. The bedspreads had pink flowers. The sheets were pink striped. It was girly—complete with a picture of little girl and the verse about girls being sugar and spice and everything nice. The room was nice. It was subtle. It wasn’t turquoise.

A couple of months after we moved into the house, some kids broke into it through my parents’ bedroom window and stole my mother’s wallet. They were caught a street away. Though they’d only taken a wallet at our house, they were in big trouble because they had vandalized and stolen from just about every house in our neighborhood.

My parents had to be witnesses against the boys. Their families had begged them not to b and when that didn’t work, they turned to a little intimidation.

I was singing myself to sleep that late summer night. The window was open, and the attic fan was on. I was actually singing, “Who is afraid of the big bad robber” when a voice joined in—a deep, male voice. I don’t remember what he was singing, but I can still hear him all these years later.

I never felt safe in my non-turquoise room after that.

Room of Liminality