When I was a little girl, my fears were the dark, falling and sudden loud noises. So balloons were a problem for me. Birthday parties were a mix of pleasure. Excitement and torture. Especially if there were little boys at the party. I had dreams of falling. Short sudden distances. My father worried that he had caused it, throwing me up into the air and catching me when I was a baby. Fear of the dark stayed with me for a long time. It was when I had my own babies that I finally was able to walk into a dark room without trepidation.
Maybe I was 8 years old. I had been watching television. Now this television was a work of art. It was just the tube, as it was so aptly named, which was about 12" across and lots of little tubes on a metal base, behind the big tube. I don't know if we called it the boob tube then or if that came later. But anyway, I was watching the tube and it was a science fiction story.
The tube was in a hallway, on the 3rd floor, at the top of a flight of an open stairway. At the bottom of the stairs was a door that separated us from the 2nd floor of Mikinly's meat packing Company. The ground floor was where they took the carcasses that hung from hooks, cut them up and packed them in boxes to go to restaurants. The 2nd floor was a small office and a large open space outside of the office itself, where there were huge garbage cans, as tall as I was. Sometimes there was fat from the meat, that was thrown into those cans. And then there was an open dark space, where work men went to pee. That was where the rats came out from, at night.
My bedroom door, on the 3rd floor, was opposite the head of the stairs. We would take chairs from the kitchen, which was down the other end of the hall. That was a very long hall to me at the time.
So here I am late at night. It's dark outside. My Mommy and Daddy are in the kitchen talking. I don't know where my little brother is. Maybe in bed. And I am sitting on a chair watching the tube with my back to the long hall and kitchen. The stairs going down to the 2nd floor are to my left. Behind the tube are the doors to the living room and my parents’ bedroom. And on the tube in front of me, there is a door, which is slowly opening. On the other side of the door is a flight of stairs going down to the basement and a lady’s voice is saying, "Come on up," and it's dark down the stairs and footsteps are slowly coming up the stairs. There is a man with his head down and as he reaches the top of the stairs he lifts his head up and he has three eyes. One right in the middle of his forehead and I can't move and the tube goes black.
I quietly get off my chair and walk quietly and quickly back to the kitchen where there is warm yellow light and my mother cleaning up the kitchen after dinner and my father is sitting at the dining table and I just quietly sit on one of the kitchen chairs. My father looks up and says, "Shouldn't you get ready for bed?" I just sit there. "Go on now. Get your pajamas on."
I get up and turn the corner to go down the long dark hall toward my bedroom, the one opposite the stairs going down to the 2 nd floor and the rats and my legs won't move. I go back into the kitchen. "It's dark down there," I say.
"Turn on the light," my father says. I go back out to the hall. The light is all the way down at the other end. It is a ceiling light that has a string that hangs down that I can just barely reach. Again my feet won't move. I turn back. "What's the matter?" he says.
"I'm scared," I answer and tell him about the man with three eyes.
"If you don't go and turn that light on you will not be allowed to watch any more TV." Again I try. My feet just won't move down that hall. "O.K., Missy," he says, as he comes with me, "but no more TV."
* * *
Sara Miot spent most of her childhood in Manhattan where at the age of sixteen she joined the company of the New York City Ballet. Dance and choreography have remained central to her life, as well as painting. drawing and writing. Using her knowledge of the body, Sara has become a first-rate massage therapist, able to access not only the muscles of the body but also the stories and emotions they hold. She lives now in the Catskill mountains with her husband Harry.