July 24, 2007


Posted in Uncategorized at 11:27 0 by gillsmoke

The reality:
I went to go register for classes at the community college. When I got there I couldn’t find the admissions building. Seeing all of the people moving with confidence sapped mine. I grew so afraid that I walked back home and hid under the covers for the rest of the day. That was the longest period of time I was afraid. Every step there I grew more afraid of circumstances I was stepping into. I already feared public ridicule. Every step home I berated myself. I felt foolish, ashamed and decidedly inferior. I’m not going to admit any of this to you people … wait i just did.

The fantastic:
And so I knew it was bad, from the way the muscles in my abdomen siezed, gripped by the claw of sudden fear. I knew is was bad because I felt like I was falling. I knew it was bad because my steps became faster as the dread of my discovery became a certianty instead of a fantasy. I used to get night terrors as a child so I knew what fear was, I touched terror so often it had almost became a friend. My parents had one of those cutsie wall hangings that said, “Better to be a child afraid of the darkness of night than a grownup afraid of the light of the day.” “Tell that to the child,” I always thought. But this was bad, way worse. My fingers started tingling because my breathing had become so rapid and shallow as the overriding fear overtook me and I knew I’d better sit down, but I kept running until I fell.

I inspired fear in others as well, Dreadlocks in a mohawk with pierced nipples on a guy will kind of draw attention. The distorted grimaces of shock and awe became my commonplace world view. Everybody was scared. I felt like something out of a Lovecraft novel, “He held secrets no man was meant to know, and to know the secret would drive you mad. Boo!” If I scared you first was the thinking I had. Nobody knew, and hiding it was the most important thing. All the jocks knew if you messed with me then watch out. A reputation earned, not just given. But still nobody knew, the dread of discovery I carried.

I held my talisman in my pocket as I willed my body to breathe. That stupid thing never worked but still I carried it because my Grandma said it would help. My vision was narrowing now, it was like the time I’d gotten bit by a rattlesnake. My heart was pounding so hard I couldn’t hear anything else. My mind was racing. “Who knew? Who saw? Who’d tell?” Like a litany in my brain. I saw the snake now crushed dead by a rock, “You know, they are more afraid of you than you are of them.” Yeah right. Things were beginning to return to normal.

I heard someone walking up to me, and I wished that I was invisible. My heart skipped a beat as my chest froze again. I didn’t want anybody to see, then they would know for sure. There it was again, a footfall behind me. I slowly rolled over to see who would be my Judas, but there wasn’t anybody there. I sat up and the ringing in my ears began to fade. I wanted to say, “Who’s there?” but I knew that my mind was playing tricks again. but still my head jerked back and forth like a spooked meerkat looking for anybody anything that might bear witness against me. It wasn’t since my night terrors that I had pissed myself with fear but as I stood to finish getting home I felt the coolness on my legs and the wet spot on the ground and I knew what had happened. Now with shame as well as fear I hurried home. Maybe it was a nightmare and I’d wake up. The pain from the scrape on my cheek told me that there was slim chance of that. “Maybe nobody knew,” I tried to offer myself hope. From the stunned silence when they saw me I knew there was no chance of that.



  1. gretty said,

    Great story. Intense, uncomfortable and unselfconscious, just like a good fear story should be.
    I wish I could give you an A. Unfortunately you failed to follow the parameters set forth in the assignment comment. So you’ll have to settle for a B.

  2. crse said,

    I give it an A. Some things are worth a day’s wait. Ok here goes:

    I walk out into the darkness, leaving the sane and logical world of academia behind. As the bitter air hits my skin, I feel my stomach sink and my heart tighten. The warm safe net of people I can easily defraud by creating the glamour of wit and brilliance is gone. Reality smacks me in the face with the stinging wind and the illusion Ive spent the day creating dissolves immediately. I am alone with my inadequacies and I feel them rising out of the pit of my soul. Stupid, ugly, fat, unlovable, beast. The insults hurl themselves around my skull and my breathing becomes more shallow and labored. Soon the slurs become background noise as I start to review my current failings: unpaid bills, unfinished assignments, unreturned phone-calls. As I drive through dirty slush and dilapidated neighborhoods, I reflect on my pervasive mediocrity and the different ways I am not worthy of being a person. I consider different scenarios involving family and friends and who might be displeased with me at this point in time. I feel my spirit hunch in resignation. I will never be strong enough, I will never be beautiful enough. I will never be smart enough. I will never be good enough. Not ever. Its just not who I am. Don’t bother telling me she is crazy and sick. I will nod and tell you I know and that its ok. But as I look at you, I know we both know that a child that is not loved by their own mother is an aberration of humanity. We both know I have no reason to be here. Ive failed at the one thing that is supposed to be innate in every child. I cannot make her love me. The simplest most natural thing shared by most living creatures eludes me. I should have been devoured in the name of evolution. Neighborhoods change and as I draw closer to home, the familiar dread rises out of the internal morass of negativity and grips my throat. My hands hold the steering wheel in a death clutch. Without thinking, I create a hot/cold cycle of discomfort with the heater controls, never considering that I could use the mid-settings as a way to achieve a sense of warmth and coziness. As I fluctuate between suffocation and numbing chill, My mind drifts to that familiar place. I am immediately sure of what will be waiting when I walk in the door. Even before I turn down my street, I know I will submit to the all encompassing irrational fear. Just as night follows day, the terror will engulf me as it always does. In my mind, I am already playing the unimaginable messages left on my answering machine. Im completely braced to hear that someone I love has been taken from me in a horrible way. My nephew, my little brother, my dad. I am beyond certain that some unnamed horror has occurred and all that stands between inconsolable grief and me is this drive home. I pull into my driveway and I feel the tears rise in my throat as my heart is beating in my ears. I am shaking and enveloped in a quiet hysteria. Thankfully, I am alone so nobody can see the spectacle I have created in my own mind. I race up the stairs as if chased by the hounds of hell. In the door, I immediately look for the telltale red light. It remains unblinking. Even in my rush of relief, I feel shame and embarrassment wash over me. I don’t know it at the time, but years will pass before I ever tell a soul about this part of me; a routine just as familiar as brushing my teeth or getting dressed in the morning. Not because I held the secret, but who really discusses something as common as putting their socks on? Its just the way it is.

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