Since we moved to our current house 22 years ago, the bathroom off of my parents’ bedroom has normally been reserved for their morning preparation and hygiene. However, on occasion I sneak in and enjoy the luxury of their glass shower and the multiple windows that light the whole room up in the morning. The light helps me wake up on particularly groggy mornings.
However, recently I was reminded of the terror that bathroom spelled for me in my youth.
In my youth, I had somewhat of an overactive imagination: I spent a lot of time on creative pursuits, drawing and writing especially. I even wrote my own comic series at one point based on the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series of videogames.
Coupled with my imagination was a penchant for horror films; I watched the then-horrifying “Jeepers Creepers” during a sleepover at 9 years old. From then on, I would often find films from directors like Wes Craven and John Carpenter on television, ignoring the age warnings after commercial breaks.
These two facts coupled together allowed my mind to invent a whole slew of terrors lurking around corners and in dark rooms just after I turned my back. I only recently stopped running up the stairs to my room after all the lights were off downstairs, knowing nothing was there but still being cautious.
The most memorable of these imagined terrors lurked in my parents’ bathroom. Back then, I only used their bathroom at night when one of my brothers occupied the other shower. As the child of an energy conscious mother, I always made sure to turn off unnecessary lights after I left a room, and as such I never bothered turning on the light in my parent’s bedroom, but walking through it to the bathroom and turning that light on.
Inside the shower, the textured glass obscured everything outside, and I made every disfigured shadow out to be some kind of cosmic horror lurking, waiting for me to exit so it could strike.
Upon exiting the shower, the darkness from my parents’ bedroom became the more terrifying prospect: I imagined ethereal beasts, not necessarily solid beings, but of a more gaseous nature, slowly moving down the small hallway to the bathroom where I was armed with only a towel.
Naturally, children’s logic applied in my brain, so I would quickly dry myself off in the shower, kneel down on the bath mat and cover myself with the towel. I guess my brain imbued the towel with some power of protection or invisibility to ward off or outwit the would-be attackers. I would remain knelt down in a kind of egg, my towel overhead until I felt comfortable enough to leave its shelter and walk back to my room.
I don’t remember when this trend started, and I don’t really remember when I stopped feeling a need to protect myself from these extra-dimensional adversaries. Maybe my imagination stopped running so wild as I entered my teenage years, maybe it simply focused more on music and science fiction rather than horror. Regardless, at some point I stopped worrying about them and learned to walk tall, unfettered by the beasts lurking out of sight.
However, none of that stops me from double taking at unfamiliar reflections in mirrors or feeling the hair on my neck stand up when I’m leaving a darkened room.