Anton Chekov said, “Formerly, when I didn’t know that they read my tales and passed judgement on them, I wrote serenely, just the way I eat bilini; now I’m afraid when I write.” The fear is not only in craft but also content. My fear is of being attacked from behind, most strongly at a drinking fountain, my teeth smashed into the metal. What are my worst moments, my very worst – denying my mother, stealing, hateful, violence, vice upon vice – and what would these crimes look like together, my reel of pettiness and sin? And would any of these moments make a good story?
I remember being afraid of the dark. I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid of the water, the sharks, the depth and sliminess. I remember lying in my bed, scared of my dreams, scared of what was to come, scared of things on my little body, scared I would die of something too young. I checked for early signs of a heart attack. I ran from wasps. I hid in tiny places I was afraid of. I didn’t want to be alone. I’m still afraid of that. And all of the other things too.
I’m older, not wiser, afraid as ever. I want to get out of that. I want to find myself, some truth, something that will make me the notion I hold inside or holds me. It’s a funny thing, this interior battle, wanting to be another, wiser, braver me. I play that game. And then I pretend that I don’t. I’m better than that. I’m okay with who I am. That’s what I say to myself. That’s my little self con. And I beat myself up and stay hiding, almost believing in my dreams, myself, but more than that, stay that kid screaming inside.
I can’t move my head. Not even my shoulders. I am pinned, a bright side light on my face and neck.
I am flat and horrible, my eyes wide, stuck against the ground. Stuck there, panicking. I can’t even move my leg. I have no control. I am completely helpless, trapped by monsters, people I don’t know, who have left me here to die, to be tortured and think nothing of it.
I try to close my eyes to make it go away, but it is still there. I can’t move. I want to scream but I can’t even do that. I am stuck in this silence with not even myself, with nothing but my labored miserable loneliness.
(Yeah, I know. I always end with a tree.)