When we were little, my sister and I would watch the Incredible Hulk on TV.

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I remember a time when I was terrified to sleep at night because I was sure the Hulk was in my closet, coming to get me. Then one night, I was pulled from sleep by a strange rustling sound. I told myself I’d been dreaming.

But then I heard it again. This time I was sure I heard it, no dreaming involved. There was something in my closet. I lay there as the rustling got louder, too petrified to try to get away or to defend myself, when suddenly, out of the closet jumped our cat. I was spared.

The next night at bedtime, I told my mom how scared I’d been, and I expected her to tell me that the Hulk wasn’t in my closet. She didn’t.

She didn’t tell me I was being silly. She didn’t say the Hulk wasn’t real. She didn’t say anything forgettable like that.

Instead she said, “The Incredible Hulk never hurts children. Think of all the shows you’ve seen. He goes after the bad guys and protects the children.”

After that, I still heard noises at night. But I stopped telling myself I was just dreaming. And I stopped being afraid.

~

Upside Down Kingdom is on Amazon.

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