My ancestors said that the bogeyman is a type of faerie who lives in the bog. They said that he kidnaps children so he can play with them. He crawls into their beds at night and puts his clammy hands on their faces. I want to scream that he is there, but I can never say his name, because that makes him angry. He has a fierce temper, but he doesn’t play nice, especially when he smiles.
They said that he keeps children for a year and a day, but he kept me for six years.
Sometimes, in the dark, I think he’s still there. I want to scream, but my voice doesn’t work in nightmares. I want to run, but my legs don’t work. I can’t move. He’s on me.
I wish that I had grown up with my father, but I grew up with Ann’s father. I called him Dad for those first six years when children believe in magic and bogeymen. He stands only five feet, eight inches tall, but his shadow stretches the length of my life. I catch glimpses of it, looming behind me when I stand alone in the shower, arising from dark corners where I feel too afraid to turn and look.
I don’t like to refer to him as Ann’s father. I try to lift the burden of his name from her since I cannot lift the burden of his blood. I tried to call him by his given name of Michael or by Mike as I called him for many years, but his name tastes bad in my mouth. And those are my husband’s names, so they battle in my subconscious for the status of good or evil.
If my beloved could have had any other name…but then I would not have had to challenge the bogey in the name. Perhaps it’s good for me, like bitter medicine or trickster magic.
After him, that first Michael, the first man I ever met, I next learned of the archangel whose name served as the war-cry of the angels. Since I had already associated the name with badness, with evil, I feared the heavenly warrior whom I imagined with black hair, black eyes, and supernatural strength. No glowing white angels visited my childhood dreams.
My name is also biblical. It means princess, so it’s the wrong name for me. I’m no princess. I’m ugly and clumsy like the ugly duckling, and people don’t like me. They think I’m strange. Messed up in the head. Crazy.
Grandma said it’s because I don’t speak and I don’t look at people’s eyes. She doesn’t understand that my voice doesn’t work when I’m afraid, that he holds me down, so I remain still and silent and try to disappear. I’ve felt this way as long as I can remember, but Grandma remembers a different me, one I don’t remember.
I remember snuggling in on the couch with Ann and our grandma while she read to us stories about princesses. These princesses attracted trouble as sure as closets have monsters, and when trouble befell a princess, she expected a strong, brave savior to help her, to whip open that closet door and defeat the monster. I didn’t expect anyone to help me. I expected to suffocate in the closet, bound with duct tape, to die alone.
Mom didn’t name me after a princess, though. She named me after a sad-eyed lady. She named me after Bob Dylan’s Sara, his estranged wife, his song of loss and bittersweet memory. The song could have set the tune for my life, with cries of Gypsy violin and harmonica. Instead it gave me solace, a sad music place where I felt at home.
Mom sang it to me as early as I can remember.
Sara, Sara, sweet virgin angel, sweet love of my life.
He-he who I loathe to identify any more distinctly, the archangel bogeyman of my nightmares-marked me. He marked me, as God in the bible story marked Cain, the man who stumbled into town with a big, ugly mark on his forehead. Everyone can see the mark. My mark may not show as blatantly as the one borne by Cain, the bad brother, but people recognize my mark nonetheless. They see the pain and ugliness, the sad eyes, and they turn away.