|Courtesy of HyenaReality/|
For example, someone, or thing, used to shake the basement door to the back yard so hard that it felt like the house shook on its foundations. It happened night after night. I'll never forget it. We didn't know what was down there, but I knew if it got in, it only had to walk straight up the stairs and across the hall into my bedroom. Tell me that's not enough to frighten a kid. I have a distinct memory of my brother needing to take out the garbage, which of course was through the basement door, and this shaking starting up. From my bed, where I was supposed to be asleep, I listened to my parents trying to figure out what it was, fear evident in my mother's voice, but that's all I remember. I asked Mom about this memory once, and she didn't recall any of it. I'm pretty sure my brother took the garbage out.
One night, I woke to see the shadow of a cat through our bedroom curtains. Not a sitting cat, mind you. One standing up on its feet like Jinx or Tom (of Tom and Jerry fame). He had his arms raised in attack position. I can STILL see this in my memory, as plain as if it happened today.
Is it no wonder I got labeled as a scaredy-cat as a child?
Most of the time, what frightened me grew out of my own imagination. Writers have vivid imaginations. We have to in order to create the worlds our characters inhabit. For me, these early experieinces were a torment. I can't tell you how many nights I lay awake with the covers pulled up to my nose, my gaze riveted on the bedroom doorway. Any minute, I knew something would explode through that door and attack me. I wanted to run to my parents' room for safety, but that meant crossing the threshold of the doorway and trying to make it to their room unscathed. I'm sure my parents thought I appeared in their room too many times, but what they don't know is how many more times I frightened myself beyond the ability to move.
All I could do was watch the door.
What about you? Were you easily frightened as a child? As an adult? Or were you the kid who plowed forward, fearless and brave?