Why I Love Midnight
Before I ever discovered fan fiction—or was even allowed on the computer for more than an hour—my sister used to tell me bedtime stories. I didn’t appreciate it when I was eight, but as I got older I realized that she was demonstrating incredible skill and imagination when she came up with fanciful tales off the top of her head just to entertain me.
When we were children my sister and I didn’t really get along. We had issues like most siblings and, like most children, we didn’t know how to talk them out. There was, however, one thing we could always bond over: Stories. So when she grew out of playing make believe magical warrior with me, I didn’t have too much of a problem settling for story time. Her plots were whimsical and her characters were daring! It was like the bed was an indestructible ship that sailed off on an ocean of adventure as the clock struck midnight. We weren’t supposed to be up passed eleven, but if the story was really good the rules would just slip away somewhere. When I think about it now, this seemingly harmless habit was probably the start of a lot of harmful ones. Habits where the rules went much further away than we had ever planned.
As we grew my sister and I seemed to drift apart and back together like two logs in a turbulent ocean held together by rope. Just when I thought the rope would snap I would find myself crashing back into her. We didn’t understand anything back then. We just did what we wanted, but more importantly we didn’t do what we didn’t want to, and we didn’t want to go to school. Who needs school? Einstein didn’t finish school and he turned out okay. So we stayed home and worked on stories all day. Why not? No one was there to tell us we couldn’t.
Those were my favorite times. I was old enough to understand what I wanted and young enough to be irresponsible and take it. I had fun all day long until my dad came home from work and all of my anxiety came crashing down. When it comes down to it, I never had the stomach for delinquency. Eventually, of course, we got in trouble. It was bound to happen and it upset me at first, but then I just sort of stopped caring. I continued to do what I wanted. I got kicked out of one school and moved onto the next. Friends were disposable. Only my sister and our stories were real and come midnight I would be snuggled in the corner of our room, eyes peeking from beneath the covers. With the door and window shut we would be sailing again. What would it be this time? Pirates? Elves? Elemental space robots with HUMAN EMOTION AND WILL?!?!?! Hahaha! Who knew? Only my sister did.
It was like that until high school when we moved to the nice part of town. We grew up. She stopped telling me stories. We got separate rooms and I began to sleep with the door and window open. I would lay awake thinking about plots and characters and, with closed eyes, I would smell the outside and feel the breeze on my face. At times I would recall some of my favorite bedtime stories and imagine what it would be like to truly be there. Those things I loved so much were the only things that kept me from regretting all of my decisions. Eventually, though, I would have to step out of my fantasies and face the reality that I had created by tossing the real world aside. During the next eight years we would both face the world and our lives would change so much. I would go off to live on my own. We would experience life without each other. I would put down my covers and, without hearing my sister’s voice, I would begin to write my own stories. I would write about things my sister would never think of. Amazing things she’s so impressed with. Things she says she wishes she would’ve come up with and she’ll never understand, but those will definitely be the highest compliments I’ll ever receive.
After coming home as an adult I realize that the habits formed in my childhood haven’t left me. I still hate doing things I don’t want to do, I still have trouble waking up in the morning, and I still love stories. Sitting up right now, it’s well passed midnight and my sister is uncharacteristically asleep in her room. My door and window are open and the summer breeze is wafting slowly in. I still lay awake sometimes and imagine being out there on adventures. I remember my childhood and all the years I spent regretting it. I know my sister still regrets a lot of it, but maybe that’s because she was the one telling the stories. I wonder what it was like being on the other side of that. My expectant face and wide grin and the constant changing expression. I wonder if sometimes she didn’t want to think of new things to say. I wonder if she enjoyed them as much as I did. I wonder if she knows how much those memories mean to me and while I listen to the low rumble of the city at night outside, recollections of times when I couldn’t hear that sound come flooding back. There was a time when I couldn’t open the window at night and door was always shut as one more precautionary layer so my father wouldn’t hear our voices. I remember adventure and excitement and a little girl with a bigger imagination than I could ever hope to have. I think about my sister’s compliments and wonder if she realizes the incredible dreams she gave me. Only the aspiration of a little girl who wants to be just like her big sister could drive me to the point I am now. An aspiration that started as a child in a small room at midnight when we were supposed to be sleeping.