Why I Sleep With the Light On | WritersCafe.org | The Online Writing Community
Why I Sleep With the Light On

Why I Sleep With the Light On

A Story by D Alan Johnstone

I guess it started when I was about four years old.
Was it a dream? ... I'm still not sure.
All I have now is a shadow-gray memory of an event… a sketch from an instance of sleep that was abruptly interrupted. On the night in reminiscence, I awakened with a start and stared into the darkness wide-eyed, attempting to absorb any bit of light that crept into my room from under doorways or beyond window shades. The effort was futile and only the swirling images of darkness filled gaping pupils. I can recall a sick feeling of exposure... or maybe vulnerability is a better term. It became consuming in the darkest moment of night and no amount of covers pulled overhead could diminish its power. On this particular night, the feeling was overwhelming. All senses, with the exception of sight, were heightened to superhuman levels. I was frozen in position: straight-skyward, white knuckled, covers bellowing from flared nostrils, invisible in the darkness. Short panicked breaths escaped my body and enveloped the room with sound. Something was about to happen and I new it. I could sense it.
That was when I felt something…
Something physical this time.
There was no super-human monster, no maniacal disembodied laughter, no tunnel of light, just a simple and deliberate tug… then another… and another.
Slowly and methodically the pillow that occupied the space between my head and mattress was being pulled from its comfortable residence. I was terrified and unable to move, speak, or scream as the tugs became a steady pull and my head came to rest on the harder surface of the bed. I watched with wide eyes... The pillow drifted overhead and the contrast of its white surface became consumed by the blackness as it disappeared into the abyss.
I laid there quietly on my back for a long time and waited for the next thing to happen, but the next thing never came. Eventually, exhaustion overcame fear, eyelids closed over dry eyes and I drifted back into sleep. By mid-morning the next day, I had successfully convinced myself that this had only been a dream. The one disparity in my theory was the pillow that was still absent from the head of my bed. I remember asking my mom if she had seen it, to which she replied, “No, but I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.” To my recollection it was never found.

This could easily be attributed to some hazy memory of a childhood overactive imagination, but the most unusual and eerie part of this story is not what occurred on this night, but the events that have followed ever since. I have had at least one such occurrence in almost every house I have lived in:


  • Homedale Dr.- Told my parents I heard “footprints” around my bed at night.
  • Wilmington Ct. - Had a dream that someone was calling my name. Opened my eyes to hear it called out one last time. Everyone else in the house was asleep.
  • Lischey Dr. - Everyone agreed that this was an exceptionally creepy house. It was built in 1803 and came complete with the original family plot next to the driveway. One night while sleeping in this house, I had the same sense of vulnerability I had had as a child. It became equally as overwhelming, and when it had reached the pinnacle of sensation, I knew that something was about to happen. Suddenly, the bedroom light overhead came on by itself causing me to scream and, subsequently, Kristy to almost go into cardiac arrest.
  • Fairwin Ave. Kristy’s brother, Steven, helped us move into this house. We had unpacked, plugged a few things in, and were calling it a night over a couple of beers. Steven looked at me and said, “You know, this house has a much better vibe than the last one“ (Lischey) Just then the answering machine that was six feet away came on and played-back our outgoing message. Our phone service was not yet turned on, so it couldn't have been caused by an incoming call.
  • Brookmeadow Ct. “ This was a brand new house, but the strangest things happened here. The smoke alarms would go off in each room, one after the other, but only for about one second each. The doorbell would ring randomly. We would go to answer the door and there would be no one. We assumed this was a practical joker so we left the door opened and watched through the glass storm-door. It was only a matter of minutes before the doorbell rang again. We were both watching (Kristy and I) and still, not a visible soul.


We haven’t had too many strange occurrences in the new house, or really any since the kids have come along.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and heard Lucas crying. I dragged myself out of bed, went up to his room, and stuck my head in the door to see what was the matter. I think I had a bad dream”, He said. I sat next to him on the bed, gathered him up, and reassured him that everything would be ok. “Daddy?” he said quietly as he pulled himself up close to my ear. He whispered, “Have you seen my pillow?”



© 2017 D Alan Johnstone



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Wow, once again, as always, I am fumbling to find the words as an audience to your writing... I love your artistic embellishment at the end!! I also love writing like that too... not too much, but just enough creativity added to something so real and true to life to add that catchy brilliant twist (yes, brilliant is like the only word that I keep coming up with to describe your artistic intentions as a writer).

Your descriptive imagery is astounding in this story! I saw and felt everything! You took me there, with you as a scared little 4-year-old and the 4-year-old me was with trepidation holding your covers overheard too and gripping your hand too tightly...

This writing is so sophisticated and elegant. You mastered liquid descriptions of the scenes and brought the reader into the haunting with you... I smiled about the hint of innocence against such richly elegant words in the image of you with covers overhead.. the child in all of us can relate to that childlike fear of the unknown in the dark.

You are perfect in the details!

Posted 6 Months Ago


Yeah, dude....you NEED an exorcist!!!!! I don't really do all that 'bump in the night" or the stereo typical horror films but this had me gripped and them that last sentence...spine chilling. I hear Ghostbusters have spaces in their diary!!! Get on that....stat! Lol

I'd say thankyou for that but....yeah...gripping read! I'm assuming it's true to life??

White light and warm blessings (I have a feeling you need it!)

saphy (x)


Posted 8 Months Ago


D Alan Johnstone

8 Months Ago

Thank You!
...all true except the last paragraph. That was an artistic embellishment.

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Added on December 12, 2017
Last Updated on December 12, 2017