My mother shook my body until I woke up. "Nana’s downstairs. She wants you to spend the night with her." I got out of bed and took a quick look at the clock. It was after eleven! I got dressed.
We walked from our apartment to the public housing project where my grandmother lived. It was dark. I was half asleep. Nana tightly held my hand. I wasn’t aware of crossing streets or going through the park. Several times Nana called out, "Talia!" Startled, I opened my eyes. I was veering off.
When we got to her apartment she unlocked the door. I walked in. She waited in the hallway. I turned on the living room light. Then I opened the closet door and carefully moved through the hung coats. She coached me. "Go look in the rooms." I walked into all three bedrooms and knelt down in each, to look under the beds. Then I returned to the hallway and told Nana that her home was safe. She entered the apartment and locked the door behind her, firmly sliding across the latch to hold the door tightly closed. Then she took a piece of wood from an adjustable dinner table and placed that under the door knob.
My grandmother didn’t like being home alone. She would alternate between picking up my cousin, Tony, or me to spend the night with her.
I wanted to understand what my grandmother feared. It seemed unnatural for someone as strong as my grandmother to be so afraid. I never heard my grandmother talk of the fear. But I eventually heard it said. When Nana was about ten, she was raped by her father. I assumed that somewhere in her subconscious, he waits for her in a closet or under a bed.
At last, I was back in bed. My grandmother pulled my arm over her waist and together, we both fell asleep.