I woke up terrified. The room was mostly dark with slivers of light leaking through the blind slats. The little light bits only made the dark corners worse. The huge black spiders from my nightmare lurked in the dark patches, waiting for me to move so they could tell where I was. Finally, my urgent bladder drove me from my warm, safe bed.

Creeping from light patch to light patch, I tried to avoid touching anything. The patchy light and dark turned my familiar room and toys into mysterious shadows and shifting shapes. Touching only the door frames, I made my way to the bathroom. Still too terrified to face whatever might be sharing the dark space with me, I left the lights off.

When I was finished in the bathroom, I crept quietly into my parents' room.

"Mom," I whispered, "let me crawl in bed with you and dad. I had a real bad dream. There were these huge spiders, bigger than horses, and..."

"No, dear. Go back to bed. It was only a dream."

"But I'm really scared. The spiders are gigantic."

"But it's just a dream. And it's your dream. If you don't like it, change it."

"Change it? You mean I can change my dreams?"

"Of course, dear. Go try it."

"O.K." I replied with disbelief.

Holding her hug and kiss about me like a shield, I ventured back to my now cold bed and slid between the sheets. Clutching my doll, I closed my eyes.

Yup, there they were. Big spiders. Huge spiders. Gigantamongous spiders. More and bigger and all of them black. They seemed to have grown and multiplied while I was awake. I shifted from mere participant into the Director's chair.

"They can't fly, but I can," I thought.

Instantly I started floating out of their reach. Wherever I flew, though, they followed on the ground. Not wanting to fly around all night, I dreamed up a big white castle. My castle. With my spiders inside. My spiders were bigger and they were white. They also had armor on their backs, like a beetle's carapace, but they were basically spiders.

They all cheered and waved and clicked their arms when I flew over the outer walls and landed on a balcony overlooking the inner courtyard.

I was the Queen of the White Beetle-Spiders, and the largest of all was wearing a fancy saddle for me to ride her. I hopped aboard and the drawbridge was lowered. Out we marched to conquer the black spiders.

That was a long time ago when I was ten. I'm a grandmother now, but I've never forgotten that magical lesson that I can change my dreams, and become Queen of the White Beetle Spiders whenever I wish.

Fiction Sampler