My Fear of the Dark
I’m not sure how it starts, this fear of the dark.
We all have some form of it, causing our minds to play tricks on us.
What lurks in the shadows of the basement?
What will I find if I open the closet?
Did anyone else hear that noise?
Why is it that we always turn on a light when we enter a room? More importantly, why is it when we turn off a light, we get goosebumps. Our neck, shoulders and ears tingle with a sixth sense as our fight or flight reflex kicks in. Then we run…
Or is this just me?
It’s hard to remember when or why I began to fear the dark. But, I do remember distinctly being afraid. My parents were selective about what we watched on television when we were young so it couldn’t have been a horror show. We never went on any camping trips so it couldn’t have been campfire ghost stories. The books we read were pretty safe so it couldn’t have been that either.
Maybe it was just a natural fear of the unknown. Not being able to see in the dark and allowing our imagination to run wild. The creative mind of a child is a wonderful thing but it can also be the worst enemy. I definitely let mine get out of control.
To conquer my fear, or at least to keep it at bay, I had a system.
For instance, if I had to go upstairs while everyone was downstairs, turning on the light was the first order of business. Doing whatever I needed to while basking in the glow of every incandescent bulb that I could switch on, was the easy part. To get back down, I would switch off each light until I got to the very last one.
As I put my finger on the cool plastic of the final switch, my heart beat out of my chest. My breaths began to fire in rapid succession as I leaned forward on the top step. This usually created a creaking noise which was a telltale sign that there had to be someone or something else up there with me…
Taking a deep breath, I channeled all of my inner strength to prepare for what came next. If I could get to the bottom of the stairs before the count of ten, I was sure to outrun whatever would come out of the darkness to suck me into the abyss, never to be seen again.
Ten seconds being the universal get-a-way time for everything of course.
With the flip of the switch, I became immediately engulfed in the pitch darkness which also activated the ten-second timer, as well as my anxiety. With every fiber of my being, and the grace of a Ninja assassin, in one leap I catapulted myself from the top stair, skipping every step down to the first landing in attack position.
In my mind that’s how it looked.
In reality I looked more like a drunk orangutan falling off a trapeze wire.
With nine more seconds to go, I flung myself down the rest of the steps to the first level. Splattering into the wall at the bottom of the stairs, similar to a bug hitting a windshield at seventy-five miles per hour.
With eight seconds to spare, I had escaped certain death once again.
My youngest daughter is plagued by this irrational fear of the dark. As an adult having completely grown out of this phase, I get to be an example and show her that there is no reason to be afraid.
I know there is nothing in the dark, I know there is nothing in the dark…
Then why does my neck still prickle when I flip the switch?
Wait, did you hear that..?