Under Cover

As a child, I found safety under the covers. A cotton sheet made me invincible and calmed my spirit enough that I could sleep in spite of scary things around me. And there was a terrifying thing in my room: a person coming out of the closet across from the foot of my bed. It was there every night. I was too terrified to whisper to my older sister who shared the room, much less call on my parents. So I relied on my sheet, pulling it over my head, trembling until sleep finally overtook me. When morning came, I never remembered the terror of the night before.

Who was the person coming out of my closet? It was Paper Karen, a life-sized picture of me. My kindergarten teacher had her students trace each other on large sheets of paper to be colored and cut out. The paper students adorned the classroom until Teacher sent them home with us, at which point, Paper Karen took up residence on my closet door. At night, it was too dark for me to identify the image as me—it just seemed to be a person in the closet door—and that was enough to frighten me. Thank heavens for my sheet.

One night, after cowering for a while, I dared to peek out, only to find something far more terrifying than Paper Karen. Standing beside my bed was the ghost of Yosemite Sam. No question about it. The big hat and the trademark mustache gave him away.   The mustache wasn’t orange, though, as it appears in cartoons; it was white. In fact, his entire body was white. A ghost. He was holding a six-shooter in one hand and a big knife, what I would today call a machete, in the other. He stared at me, murder gleaming in his eyes.

I pulled the sheet over my head faster than ever before. But that alone would not do. Ghosts can vaporize, you know, and I was aware that if I didn’t have my sheet tucked in all around me, he would get in. An inch was all he needed to enter my protective shell. I frantically pulled in the sheet on all sides, tucking it under myself then checking again and again to be sure there wasn’t a single opening. I lay there trembling, too afraid to take another peek. At some point, thankfully, I fell asleep.

Paper Karen eventually tore, so we threw her away, which made for easier bedtimes. I never saw the ghost again.

And then I grew up, no longer sheet-dependent.

In my old age, I have seen my young cat is much like the childhood me. He feels safe when he is under cover. We recently had workers replacing water-damaged sheetrock in one of our bedrooms. Bubby, who normally skedaddles upstairs when strangers are in the house, was terrified because these strangers, too, were upstairs. I found him later that day, a lump in my bed. I make my bed with military precision so he had to work to get in, approaching from the side, climbing up and under the bedspread. He stayed there for hours without moving, until the workers went home.

This has become Bub’s routine whenever something is outside of the norm in our home: he hides under cover. And that’s okay with me. I smile each time I walk into a room and find a lump in the bed.

Who knows…as I continue to age, I may reach the point where I need to join him. There’s safety in numbers as well as under cover.


  1. Susie
    Jul 1, 2015

    Well done and a great telling of you and Bubby’s shared cover story.

    • Karen Curran
      Jul 2, 2015

      Bubby and I thank you, Susie:)

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *