Short Story: When Fear Comes Knocking

All her life, Sophie had been told that the best way to deal with fears was to tackle them head-on. Never would she have imagined that it might mean knocking them out with a saute pan.

When her Fears came knocking at her door, she quickly shut it in their faces. She couldn’t even explain how she knew the colorful little monsters outside were Fears. Maybe it was the clammy dread that spread throughout her. Maybe it was just instinct.

One thing was certain: It was suddenly hard to breathe. She felt as if one of those creatures sat on her chest, making every breath heavy and labored.

In an attempt to calm herself, Sophie leaned against the door and took deep controlled breaths. She tried to remember as much as possible of the scene outside. There had been seven or eight adult Fears, some of them with smaller in their arms. Seven, maybe eight major ones. That wasn’t too bad. After all, most people have a lot of fears, some less vivid than others, but definitely more than a few.

One of her greatest fears was her fear of heights. That must be the hairy sky-blue monster with the lanky build at the very front of the group. Another extreme fear was spiders, and predictably there was a black monster with four legs and four arms next to Heights. She had also seen Not Being Good Enough, a slimy pale yellow monster, a little shorter than the other two.

She had to admit she had no idea what the other Fears were, but she had a feeling she would find out soon enough. She couldn’t stay inside forever.

Somehow, her determination made her stop shaking. After a few more deep breaths, she had a plan. She grabbed a pan from the stove and positioned herself behind the door. With a last steeling breath, she opened the door – just enough for one of the Fears to get through – and waited.

A black creature ran through the door. Without thinking, she swung the pan and hit it over the head. With a loud thud, Spiders fell to the floor. She slammed the door shut and locked it again, unable to look away from the black furry thing that lay spread-eagled on the carpet. The pan raised above her head, ready to attack, she stepped closer. She prodded one of the four legs with her foot and Spiders stirred. It opened first one, then another and then the rest of its dozen eyes. When its gaze fell on Sophie, it raised its many arms over its face and started whimpering. It shook from head to toe, obviously at least as afraid of Sophie as Sophie was of the Fear.

Sophie hesitated. The small monster looked pitiful. How could she hurt something this defenseless? She bent down and took one of the creature’s hands. With an encouraging smile, she gently pushed it away from the Fear’s face. Somehow, she had lost all fear of it when she had seen it lying on the floor. Whispering encouragements, she peeled away all the Fear’s hands until they were able to look at each other.

“Are you okay?” she asked softly.

Spiders looked at her with wide eyes but seemed unable to speak.

“Are the other Fears as harmless as you are?”

“Not all of them,” the creature whimpered.

“What do you mean?”

“Heights, for example, is harmless, a little easy to scare -”

“Wait? Fears get scared?” She couldn’t believe it.

The monster sat up, leaning on two of the four arms, the other two folded in front of its body.

“Of course, they do!” The voice was no longer shaking, but determined. “Everyone is afraid of something. Most of the things people are afraid of are harmless, like Heights and me, but other Fears are dangerous and can get your hurt or even killed.”

“You mean, some of those monsters out there are here to kill me?”

The creature shook its head, making the many eyes swirl around. “Face them, just like you faced me. I promise, none of them will attack. Some of them will try to persuade you to do or think something, but as long as you don’t give in to self-doubt or temptation, you’ll be okay.”

Spiders nodded encouragingly, and Sophie stood up, bracing herself for whatever would happen. She wasn’t sure that the monsters were as harmless as Spiders had said. Slowly she walked towards the door and opened it a gap. She peered out to find that the Fears were still there. Ignoring them apparently didn’t make them go away.

When she let them in, the monsters walked over the threshold, introduced themselves – even though she knew exactly which Fear she was facing the moment she looked at them – and then walked in and sat down around Spiders. Some of them made her tremble inside, but she kept a determinately calm face. She couldn’t let them scare her. And after a while, they didn’t. After a while, she understood that by facing her fears she was already less afraid.

That day, Sophie learned not only to face her fears but also to live with them. Over the years, some of the Fears left, saying that they no longer belonged to her. Every once in a while, usually after something happened to her, new Fears showed up at her doorstep and moved in.

The fear of Not Being Good Enough stayed with her for a very, very long time, always trying to make her doubt herself. While he never went away, Sophie learned to get better at ignoring him and dealing with situations despite her fear.

After a long and happy life, Sophie felt she was nearing the end of her days. She was surrounded by friends and family, as well as the Fears of her final days. Some had been with her for her whole life; some were new companions. She waved her grandchildren closer and whispered into their ears the story of the Fears. Because someday, all of us have to face our fears – and as they say, it’s best to face them head-on, no matter how literal we might have to take it.

Work in Progress: Willow

This is terrible mind‘s fault. If it sucks, you can go blame it on them. Really. They asked for snippets of our current novels. For me, that’s my adult dystopian trilogy, Willow. I haven’t shared any of it yet as I’m in the middle of the first draft, currently of the second part. As I couldn’t write anything fresh today, I revised my first few paragraphs. This means the call for a snippet comes at exactly the right time. It’s still work in progress, mostly unedited and most likely not final, but here you go. Oh, and if you have any better ideas for a name for this city, let me know. Anglass is almost perfect, but not quite.

When you looked at it, Chase had the perfect life, or as close to it as it was possible in the city of Anglass. Her husband Dale would do anything to make her happy and her daughter Willow was the most adorable five year old girl you could imagine. But still, most of Chase’s life was a web of lies, appearances and pretends spun of years and years. It was the only thing that kept them safe.

Continue reading Work in Progress: Willow

The two books I brought to the US

Moving to the US from Europe was an adventure that has taught me many lessons, lessons I would not want to miss for anything. Immigrating to the US has deepened my love for arts, photography, writing and people on a level that I would not have imagined.

One of the hardest things to do was to decide what to take and what to leave behind. Selling my car was certainly hard. Letting go of my self-crafted furniture was not easy. But nothing was as hard as selling my large selection of books and movies.

The two books I took with me in the end were a timeworn copy of The Neverending Story and The Little Prince.

Neverending Story & The LittlePrince Continue reading The two books I brought to the US

Odd. Holding hands.

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Her hand reaches out, gliding over my wrist, her fingers slowly lacing into mine. She squeezes my hand slightly in a friendly hello. Her thumb draws circles on my skin, driving shivers down my spine. Our palms touch, spreading warmth across my hand and through my thoughts. Never let go. It feels like the beginning of forever, of a journey that can never end. She is mine, and I am hers. Forever.

Odd. Ocean Waves

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I’m standing at the ocean, the sand between my toes, the cold water playing around my ankles. I can feel the pull of the next big wave, how it’s trying to pull me with it, into the wide ocean, how it’s burying my feet deeper in the sand.

I steady myself, wait, breathe.

The wave hits me, spraying me with cool salty water, immersing me hip high in water. The next wave is right behind it, reaching me before the first one starts fading away, playing around my hip.

When I feel the pull of the next wave, I laugh out loud. Laugh at the freedom of the ocean, the salty water, the light breeze, the play with the waves.

Slowly I wade deeper, shuddering when the cold water reaches my stomach, involuntarily standing up on my toes to get it out of the water.

Stealing myself, I dive into the next wave, completely vanishing under the water. When I break through the surface, water drips out of my hair. My lips are salty, tasting like the ocean.

My feet find sand. Walking back to the beach, I watch the sun glittering in the salty-wet film on my body, like thousands of stars.

The Burger & The Homeless Guy

Hoping the world outside would distract her from the place, she chose a table by the window.
The air was filled with the smell of old frying oil and too many people. There were sauce stains on one side of the table, and someone had smeared greasy fingers all over it. Trying her best, not to see it, she placed her tray strategically to cover the grease.

When she opened the paper box of the burger, the mouthwatering smell reached her nostrils, and her stomach gave a small rumble of hunger. Just seconds before the luscious juiciness spread in her mouth, she pushed aside a quick thought of all the chemicals hidden in her food, deciding not to care for the day.

Just moments later, she began regretting her choice of seat. A kid was playing loudly with an airplane, jumping against the wall right next to her seat, making her head hurt. The outside world did nothing to help her situation. When she stared outside, a homeless guy walked by, searching the trash for food or whatever other treasure he was looking for. The search yielded no results, and he started limping along the sidewalk. When he passed her, a dark stain began spreading over his pants, first creating a puddle at his crotch, then tracing down his inner thigh.

The guy stopped at a newspaper box, taking the crumpled newspaper someone had left on top. She pitied his futile efforts to dry his pants with the paper and couldn’t help watching him, when he limped away, now worse than before, trying not to touch the wetness between his legs.

She turned her attention to her company, trying to ignore everything around her, tuning out the kid and the view outside the window. Something kept pulling her towards the view outside, but she ignored it, concentrating on the conversation.

The New Notebook

Tentatively my hand hovers over the page, unable to start writing. The page looks innocent. The inviting smell of the pages, the sweet smell of the ink, waiting to be added to it.

Writing the first line into a new notebook is always the hardest. For the first line, I feel like the words I’m writing are befouling the notebook, until the pages come to life with ideas and the notebook’s character starts to grow.

And then I reach the last page with sadness at parting with this loyal friend. Only to start the process yet again with the next one, tentative at the first words.