Fear is such an interesting thing: when you look back at it or examine closely the fears of others but so very different from the experience of being afraid. I used to make fear when I walked home at night by myself. I would conjure horror rising from the ground to consume me and would need to run for home without looking behind me, or behind the trees or what ever rules I created for myself during that deep breathed and passionate running.
The same way I would create these same rising horrors in the basement of the small Victorian cottage I rented and would be consumed by them if the door had become unhinged and I could see into the darkness contained behind it.
Men with knives were another favourite terror and I would ride that nightmare in the house alone if I heard the floor creak or the hint of a whispered sound. Some evenings on the mad run home in the darkness “men with knives” would be the drumming sound made by my heart’s pounding.
True fear is a very different kettle of fish and I am lucky to have only once experienced it. One evening during my preparations for the mad run home my friends battered me with images of the dangers that lurk and convinced me to catch a bus. I did so and curled up into myself in the warmth of the seat to enjoy the trip to my street. It was some time before the murmur of sound behind me coalesced into words; firstly it was just sound and almost comforting in its soft quietness. But slowly the words and their meaning intruded and I began to hear them. The man behind me was telling me, softly and quietly what he was going to do to me when we got off the bus. He was insistent and graphic and he would not stop. I moved seats and he followed me continuing to explain to me my immediate future.
I wasn’t terrified or horrified; I was afraid, deeply and completely afraid. I walked to the front of the bus and told the driver what was happening. He kept the man with him as I left the bus and ran for home. Inside, I locked the doors and windows. I collected the biggest knife I had from the kitchen and slept with it under my pillow.
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