An Old Story is a horror story. And what could be more horrifying than a guard who turns out to be part of the threat? “The eyes of the night guard piercing like floodlights.” The one who is supposed to guard is suspected of being an ally of the rats, sharing the same evil eyes with them. Who will guard the guards? If you can’t fight them – join them. The child turns into a bug-child; “I crawled and crawled”; the father suspects there are “pubic lice” in his bed. That is, that the child is spawning lice. The fear of rats transforms into being accused of “rattiness”. The child identifies with the accusation and becomes an animal: “I howled… like a jackal”.
The children’s book Come to Me Little Butterfly, by Fania Bergstein ends with the poem: “Who is barking all day long? / Why it is my faithful dog / He will guard us with his bite / And now bids us all good night.” The children in Bergstein’s poem sleep in the children’s house of the kibbutz, like Aloni. Ostensibly, the dog in the poem guards them while in Aloni’s story the child himself becomes a jackal from which you need to protect yourself. But, in truth, the dog guard appearing in the toddlers’ poem also becomes a sort of monster. Who barks all day long? How much anxiety is saturated in this guard dog that never stops barking? And what sort of “good night” bidding is this? And maybe it isn't the dog who is barking but the frightened children who are trading monsters for barks?