Thursday, October 30, 2014

Childhood Fears Revisited

I used to be afraid of the dark. 

It's difficult for me to imagine it now, but when I was small, the darkness always loomed over me like a vast, unknowable ocean.  I was afraid I would be swallowed up in that blackness and drowned before anyone even knew that I was gone.  The dark was a living creature, and it was obviously trying to kill me.  There were places that I would not go, things that I would not do, if they took place in the dark. Sleeping at night was over rated, as far as I was concerned; I fought it tooth and nail and tantrum.  My parents were finally able to get me to stay in my bed after following a litany of rituals that would have made all of the nuns in my family proud. I had to have a goodnight kiss, a bright night light that also illuminated under the bed, and several serviceable stuffed animals in bed with me. The bedcovers needed to provide ample coverage, so that no part of me would accidentally be visible.  Every closet door in the house needed to be shut tight(there was darkness in the closet, after all).  But the door to my bedroom?  That had to be left open, no matter what.  That was a nonnegotiable.  

I had to have an escape route. 

Because what if the door to my closet was accidentally left open by my mom when she was trying to put away laundry after I fell asleep?  And what if that accidentally opened door allowed a small amount of closet darkness to seep out?  And what if that seeping darkness happened to roll under my bed at the same time my night light went out?  And what if I happened to wake up in the middle of the night and have to pee?

Whatever would I do? Why, I would throw those stuffed animals down, one at a time, and while the dark was chomping on those brave toys I would bounce really hard on my bed and fly right out the door of my room!

At least that is what I would tell myself, as I lay in the dark, completely covered with blankets, afraid to move, lest I catch the eye of random darkness rolling around on the floor. I must have been doing something right, since I survived into adulthood, fingers and toes intact. 

Now I'm not afraid of the dark.  I know that the darkness that is in my room at night is not a mythical creature ready to devour me.  I know that even with the lights out, my house is still my home, and everything inside of it is perfectly benign,  except for the cat who likes to attack your ankles when you pass by.   No, I'm not afraid of the dark.

Closets, however...

Go and check out more of the fun over at Mamakat's Writing Workshop--which is pretty darn famous!  Here's the prompt that I used:  Something that scared you when you were young...are you still afraid?


  1. I've never been afraid of the dark, but rather what's IN the dark. Because I too, have a cat that attacks the ankles and scary closets that take over if left un-contained. :)

  2. I hate that question...what if?:) It'll get you every time!

  3. I still don't like hanging my foot outside the covers. Something under the bed my get me.

  4. You described a childhood fear of darkness to perfection! I saw myself doing that, too. Closet doors had to be closed up... tight as a button! I always enjoy reading your posts. The vivid details of your writing keep me captivated!

  5. When I was a kid, I would never let my arms or legs fall over the edge of my mattress. I could convince myself there was something under the bed. Even today, I can manage to scare myself, then laugh at my silliness. Closet doors? HAVE to be closed.

  6. I'm fine in the dark unless I have to pass a mirror. Apparently my own reflection in a mirror at night is one of the most horrifying things I might come across.

  7. I am so glad to know that I'm not the only one with the irrational fear of letting my extremities fall over the edge of the bed. I still can't. >.<

  8. that was a fun read, I'm glad you survived the dark of the closet. Maybe you should consider writing a children's Halloween book . . . .Stopping by from mama kats kelley at the road goes ever ever on

  9. I'm still afraid of the dark. I won't let any body parts hang over the side of the bed because the monster under the bed will grab them and pull me under the bed and eat me. I have to have at least a sheet over me even in the hottest weather as protection from aforementioned monster under the bed. I'm 54 years old....


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