When fear strikes…

2014-09-28 10.20.57

Personally I like them; this one is resident by our front door.

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…

This video doesn’t exist



About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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19 Responses to When fear strikes…

  1. Mel Hickish says:

    Oh Geoff, you do make me laugh and I can completely relate to your fear of having you teeth cleaned by the dentist. I have to say that the ‘p***ing’ and ‘prostate’ comments made me laugh out the loudest. Keep up the good work 🙂


  2. Annecdotist says:

    Fear is irrational? Since we’re talking male anatomy, bollocks to that. While many of us are scared of things that aren’t at all dangerous, fear itself is highly adaptive and helps to keep us safe.
    That said, if I were Mary I be pretty afraid of you – you do keep giving her a hard time. Of course that’s what keeps us on the edge of our seats wanting to know more. congratulations on another successful flash and a post with a nice balance of seriousness and humour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I do love the way you sit on the fence, Anne! I have to say that counter to the argument that fear is rational is embodied in my mother in law (the one person who, living, does not need a label as you really couldn’t make her up). Perhaps you might ascribe her fears to somethign other than the adaptive safety barrier but they are genuinely held and utterly irrational. Glad you’re enjoying Mary’s tribulations. She does deserve a break. But I am a cruel author and I’m not sure I can release her just yet!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa Reiter says:

    Oh my god – I’ll tell you about pissing away my fears tomorrow!

    Great post, great piece, great laugh ! Lx

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Charli Mills says:

    Mary! She’s going to do more than clock a midge if this unraveling continues in her life. But what an interesting prospect to set up for her. Did you know this or did Mary share it with you? I’ve gone into my stories thinking one thing and my characters do or say another! Maybe I should fear who is in control of my keyboard? 🙂 This story has taken on so much life!

    Vinny the Dentist? Get outta here! That sounds like a code name for some Chicago hit man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Oh I lost control of the characters in episode 2 when Perer went fishing with a unicorn…
      What is it about Dentists who ask questions when you have more earth moving equipment in your mouth than the average building site? Vinny is a nightmare for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Charli Mills says:

    Dog is an awesome tumbler! I could watch that several times and laugh!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Whoa…
    Fantastic flash. You are thinking of compiling these for a short story (or novel or whatever), right? It would be marvelous. Was not expecting that last line at all.

    Haha! 😀 Always a laugh when I read your posts. Do love this, though: “…you don’t get to choose your fears; they choose you.” Truth. On that note, thanks for the spider photo. Lovely.


  7. Sherri says:

    Geoff, I love this post and funny how we both mentioned dentists…I detest that tickling feeling and worse, I have to have a tooth out next week and I’m bloody dreading it. Still, maybe if I had Vinny I’d be fine…he’d knock me right out 😉 Love the way you write and also your flash brings in an element of real shock. Sounds a bit like my family, ha! Love the video too…excellent triple pike 😀


    • TanGental says:

      Poor you; best of luck. Hope you don’t look like the afters in a clash with mike Tyson. Viinny is great though he does go on and often asks inappropriately timed questions causing dribble explosions as I rashly try and answer. Um, yes, from what you’ve told us about your family they could have a part in my flash; if I do I’ll share the royalties…


  8. willowdot21 says:

    I loved the story and love the dog!! The laugh also was a brightener amazing how a laugh or giggle demands company.


  9. Amber Prince says:

    I was NOT expecting that, poor Mary. You did a great flash! You should compile all of Mary’s experiences into a book, this would be be (IS) a gripping story.


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