Please leave the light on.

When I was small, I was scared of darkness. My fear used to be manageable when my family lived in a tiny apartment where all the rooms were connected and the only dark room was our storage room. But even then, I used to feel anxious whenever I looked into the storage room in the evening. Through its open door, the dark space felt like another world resided by ghosts and other things that I was afraid of encountering.

Since my family moved to a new house in the suburb, things got worse. After dusk, the whole upstairs became pitch dark. At night, I even avoided going to my own room as much as possible. When my mother asked me to shut the curtains upstairs, I would run fast like a shooting star, singing in a loud voice and shutting all the curtains within ten seconds.

But every night, there was one moment I had to face the darkness: when I went to sleep.

I always left the light on in the corridor, left the door open, and left my room light on before going to sleep. If I were lucky, I could fall asleep like that without facing any darkness.

However, that rarely happened. My mother would come upstairs to check if I went to bed properly, then turn off all the lights and close the door. The little dim light she left on in my room did not help me cope with the darkness but rather spurred my imagination in a wrong direction. I spent restless moments looking around and making sure that nothing was coming at me until I finally fell asleep.

On those nights when my father read me a beside story, he would make sure to leave the light on and the room door open for me. But again, a few minutes later, my mother would come upstairs to turn off all the lights and close the door.

Once I heard my father tell my mother that I did not like darkness and so the lights had to be left on. My delight upon hearing this conversation was huge, which only lasted for a second, though.

“What do you mean she’s afraid of darkness?” My mother’s voice rang in the corridor. “Rubbish! She can sleep in the darkness perfectly fine. The door needs to be closed, too. Otherwise, her sleep will be disrupted by the noise from downstairs!”

Thus the lights were turned off, the door was closed, and I was again left alone in the darkness. Every night, I hoped the lights would remain on, but always ended up lying in the dark room, fighting off my imagination and discomfort until sleep finally took over me.