I have heard it said that fear is irrational. Surely that should be instinctive? The fight or flight response and all that? After all some fears seem totally logical to me. I mean what’s so dumb about a fear of snakes? Oh sure, they’re warm when you touch them but they look so damn mean with those fractured eyes and their should-be-slimy-but actually-aren’t-too-bad coats. But even if a fear of falling when in a high place seems rational, you don’t get to choose your fears; they choose you.
What are my fears? I sat at my keyboard of a while struggling to come up with any. I have dislikes, of course: grapefruit, caravans, a failure to acknowledge kindness. But real fears? Small dark spaces, for sure. Being out of my depth (in water – I’m constantly out of my depth in intellectual situations). Having my teeth polished (when you’ve had them cleaned, if you do, and descaled, the dentist comes at you with this demented bumble bee thing, covered in peppermint dust to give your dentures a final polish. The inside of my gums is beyond ticklish so I break out in a sweat, fists clenched, desperate to avoid punching the bejeebers out of my dentist – that is likely to be fractionally more expensive than the treatment. Vinny, who does mine, knows the risk and keeps well clear but the sweats come every time.
When I worked as a lawyer I found others complained about sleeping difficulties and I felt grateful I never had any. Hit the pillow, out like a light – that’s me (it was just as true to say – open a 150 page document, out like a light but that’s different). However in the last few years I found that, while I’d go to sleep ok, I would sometimes wake up at 4 or 5 am in a total panic about something. Whatever the fear was, it felt genuine and real. It was always work related – a missed clause, some wrong advice, mis-transferred monies – and I knew there was no solution, nothing but humiliation and career termination. It took a while to realise I needed to get upright, go for a pee and the world righted itself. I pissed away my fears, if I may be so graphic. I even confided to a long term colleague, someone with whom I had shared many ups and downs over the years, just to see if he related, if he could empathise. I should have known better. His advice was (a) eat less cheese and (b) get my prostate checked.
Anyway, the p-gland is fine, I’m still a cheesophile and the sweats are in the past. Now I just have to write about fears.
Charli Mills is prompting us to face those unspoken fears this week. In face, something ‘worse than death’ so a real deep seated fear.
October 1, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) show a character confronting something worse than death. It can be a universal fear or something unique to the character. What does this fear reveal about motive? Does it color the tone, deepen the plot or add to absurdity? Go ahead, poke a pencil at fear this week.
My story of Mary and her family continues. You can find the previous instalments here.
And this week’s episode…
The fear of fear itself
‘What is it?’ Paul carried two wine glasses onto the terrace.
Mary pushed the papers across the table. A birth certificate.
Paul scanned it. ‘How long have you had this?’
‘I found it when I cleaned out Dad’s desk.’
‘It doesn’t mean anything.’
Mary’s hand shook.
‘Peter loved you…’
‘Don’t.’ Mary slapped a midge harder than strictly necessary. ‘Why did he never say? He knew I’d find it.’
‘He didn’t expect to die. Maybe he planned…’
Mary stood, taking her glass. ‘Planned? He schemed.’
Paul, alone, re-read the paper. Mary was adopted. So only Rupert was Peter’s real child.
This is a bit of a gloomy post so here’s a happy dog video, with triple pike; the odd accompanying sound is a Le Pard laugh…