A Work of Serial Fiction by Noah Sanders | 1/13/17
Quiet now. Settle down and listen. I have a story for you:
Frances was never afraid of the dark. She likes it. She likes the way the stars twinkle at night, resting against the black sky. She likes the sound of the wind passing through the trees outside of her window. Most of all, she likes wrapping a blanket around herself and curling up in her bed, staying awake as long as she can and thinking in the dark.
Everyone that knows Frances told her to be afraid of the dark. Her parents, her teachers, her neighbors, her aunts and her uncles, even the mailman told her to be afraid of the dark. At school, her classmates told her the same thing. They said: “Frances, our parents and teachers and neighbors and aunts and uncles, even our mailmen, tell us to be afraid of the dark. So we are and you should be too”.
Frances tried to be afraid of the dark. While she watched the sun set, she would think of all the spooky things that come out of hiding as soon as the light is gone. She thought of spiders crawling up her arms and worms wiggling between her toes. She thought of owls hooting in trees and wolves howling at the moon. When she was really trying to be scared, she thought of ghosts floating noiselessly through the air.
But when it is finally night and Frances is alone in her room, curled up in her bed and wrapped completely in the dark, she cannot help but smile.
Frances met her best friends in the dark. To me or you, they are aliens. But to Frances, they are just her friends.
She heard them before she ever saw them. Heard isn’t exactly the right word, because their voices came into her head, not her ears. One night, while she was lying in her bed, curled up in her blanket and thinking, she heard a voice that was not her own. The next night, she heard it again. On the third night, she heard two voices. And on the fourth, she heard four. Finally, on the fifth night, she saw them. They were at the foot of her bed, waiting for her with arms stretched out towards her in welcoming.
Frances was not afraid of them. There was something soothing in their voices, something that promised her they wanted to meet her and help her, not hurt her. She reached out, grabbed a hand, and let them take her where they wanted to take her.
The first time, they took her to her front yard. The next, they took her to the creek down the road from her house. The next, they took her to the top of Mt. Everest. They took her to the heart of the Amazon, the Eiffel Tower, the headwaters of the Mississippi River, the White House, and Loch Ness. No matter how far away they went, she was always home and back in bed before sunrise.
Each night, Frances and her friends travelled somewhere new in the world. They went to exciting places and saw exciting things. They had experiences they had never had before and learned things they had never learned before.
Frances was their tour guide. They picked where they wanted to go and what they wanted to see. Frances showed them. Frances showed them the pyramids in Egypt, the Great Wall of China, and Petra’s stone city. She showed them the Empire State Building and the Burj Khalifa. She showed them the Grand Tetons, the Grand Canyon, and the Aurora Borealis. She showed them Alaska’s Grizzly bears, Siberia’s snow leopards, and Bolivia’s howler monkeys.
Then one night, Frances’s friends never came. She waited, curled in her blanket, for them to appear. She stared at the foot of her bed all night, expecting to see their friendly faces, to hear their soothing voices. But she never did. They never came.
Frances is older now. She has her own house, a daughter of her own, and a big black dog named Rufus. She is still not afraid of the dark.
Some nights, Frances, her daughter, and Rufus will all sit on the porch and stare at the stars. Frances will tell her daughter and Rufus about the friends she once had and the places they would go when her parents thought she was asleep. Together, they point at light twinkling far away in the night sky and guess from which star the aliens came.
To her daughter, maybe even to Rufus, the aliens are just part of a story. They are from somewhere imagined, somewhere unreal, somewhere else. But Frances has seen them. Frances knows they are real.
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