The Little Doctors

I saw them every night.

Sometimes they came inside, slithering through my window and peering at me through bottomless black eyes. I’d pull my blankets over my head, trembling while I waited for them to leave. They never touched me, but they stood over me in silence, silhouetted by hazy gray light. I could feel them there, watching with unknowable purpose, and would remain until after I fell into a terrified sleep.

Mother told me they were real. She wasn’t the only one, but I reckon she was the only one who believed it. The others all seemed like jesters, spilling stilted stories to get a laugh.

“I see them every night,” I said. “My nightmares are so real.”

“Maybe they are real,” they’d say, always with an anxious laugh.

I didn’t know what the creatures were, so I gave them my own name. I asked my mom and stepdad to please keep the Little Doctors out of my room. I didn’t like the way they looked at me, so intent yet empty.

“They’re only dreams,”  my stepdad said.

“Don’t worry,” whispered my mother. “They’re friendly. I promise.”