I’m the second child in four. The good thing about this fact is that while growing up, siblings #1 and #3 were both suitable playmates for me. If one of them didn’t want to play, I would simply hang out with the other one. Sometimes I had the luxury of choosing between the two of them.
Sometimes, at night, when my little sister and brother were already in bed and my elder sister didn’t want to play with me, I got bored with ways of entertaining myself. So occasionally, I would quietly sneak into their room, while they were still awake. My sister slept in a loft bed. At her feet, there was a big chair. My creative brain had invented the ultimate sport: get to that chair without getting noticed by her. This was a incredibly slow process, because my sister would be able to catch me with every potential noise I would make. If she simply turned her head and glanced over at the floor she would see me. Sometimes I would lie down on the floor for minutes without moving. Sometimes I would only move one limb per minute.
At times my brother, who slept in the same room, would spot me during this process. His bed was at a normal height. I would make him into my accomplice by quietly gesturing him to keep quiet. He always played along.
When I finally reached the big chair after a long and dangerous journey from the door, I would silently climb onto it. Quietly holding my breath, I would slowly change my weight from one foot to the other, until I was standing on the arms of the chair in ducked position.
At this point, my sister would still be completely unsuspecting of what was about to happen. She was usually just staring at the ceiling, minding her own thoughts, probably thinking about rainbows and sheep.
Out of nowhere, I would jump from behind her bed and scream. As you can imagine, this caused quite a reaction. It scared the hell out of her, time and time again.
It ended up with me laughing hysterically, thinking I was the most successful and hilarious super ninja in the world, and her needing to calm down after having a heart attack. In my mind I had the mad skills of a spy, which one day would prove to be useful in my future detective career.
Then I would just hang out for a bit. We would talk about whatever was on our minds until she got tired or I got bored and I would leave again.
You might think she hated this, but in fact, she really loved it.
No really. Ask her.
These dark little visits gave me an idea.
I’ve always had a curious mind. So sometimes, in order to make sense of the world around me and prove certain theories, I would make my little sister into my own personal test subject.
I had heard about a certain theory that had caught my interest. Supposedly, you dream of the things that you hear around you during your sleep. This was a fascinating concept. It would mean, that you could influence what others dream about. That was even more exciting than lucid dreaming. I decided to test if it worked.
So one night, after my younger siblings fell asleep, I sneaked into their room.
I decided that the best way to test my theory, was by whispering one word over and over again in my sister’s ear. The next day, I would ask her what she had dreamt about. It was a fail-safe plan.
Great thought went into what word I would use. I thought about using a boy’s name from her school, but this was too big a risk. She might not want to share that with me the next day. It should be a word that normally wouldn’t necessarily be in her dreams, but would be very recognizable.
I decided to go with ‘washing machine’.
My sister was lying in bed. She was already dozing off, when suddenly she heard someone hissing into her ear. She opened her eyes, bewildered.
At this point she realised that I, for some reason, was 1. awfully close to her and 2. repeatedly whispering ‘washing machine’ (with a hypnotic rhythm and tone for effect) into her ear.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
While still in the middle of my experiment, my sister had clearly awakened. This wasn’t really part of the plan, but as she was awake now anyways, I eagerly asked her what she dreamt about, just now. I was desperate to know if my experiment had worked.
Anything in particular, like… perhaps… a washing machine?
I WASN’T SLEEPING. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Disappointed with this new piece of information, I decided to confide in her. I told her of my fantastic experiment. She didn’t seem quite as enthusiastic. Clearly, she just wasn’t the kind of person who would recognise the value and beauty of a good science experiment when it is right in front of her.
Oh well. I figured I just needed to try again another time.