When I was a very small girl, I was plagued by nightmares. Night after night I’d be chased by a horrifying black wolf with teeth as big as carving knives, and night after night I’d wake up drenched in sweat. I also used to dream that California (where we lived) fell off the rest of the country and sunk to the bottom of the ocean, and that my house was engulfed by fire, and that there were sharks in the bathtub, but these dreams are easier to account for. (Common 90’s folklore, Backdraft, and Jaws, respectively.) But the wolf was by far the worst and most frequent.
The nightmares got so bad that I was terrified to fall asleep, and I would lay in bed with my little eyes open for as long as I could, imagining all the possible flavors of ice cream or every name I could give a kitten in order to keep myself awake. When I did fall asleep the wolf would start chasing, and I’d wake up multiple times a night. I needed to break the cycle.
Eventually, I found a solution. I don’t know if this is something someone suggested to me or that I saw in a movie or something, but one night it occurred to my little brain to put on a crown. I’d make myself into the Bedtime Queen, and banish the bad dreams. Surely the wolf could not defy a queen’s orders.
Thereafter, every night after my parents tucked me in and my sister had fallen asleep, I would form a crown shape with my hands and place it on my head. Then I would say something like “I’m the Queen, and tonight I command dreams of kittens playing on rainbows.” That done, I would relax into sleep, knowing that the wolf wouldn’t be chasing me that night, and if he tried, I could always pull out my crown and banish him.
I’ve been thinking about my invisible crown a lot lately, and for the past couple of nights I’ve actually worn it to push away the school shooting nightmares. It was a little dusty from lack of use at first, but I’m glad to report that it still works fairly well.
(I don’t know the original source of this image, but I found it on thegurrl.wordpress.com)