Squaring my shoulders, I walk confidently down the stairs - I can see myself as though from above: a brave girl, a second grader, old enough to help herself. In the kitchen I flick on the lights - a moment of blindness - then the darkness scurries into the corners. I pour a glass of water, and decide to drink it standing at the kitchen sink, to show myself how brave I am. As I'm gulping the water down, my eye falls on the darkened kitchen windows. Was that a flicker of movement outside? My heart quickens, but I stand firm. I'm not scared, I tell myself, there is nothing to fear.
As I rinse the glass and put it in the sink, I hear a creak, a groan. I freeze. Have I heard that noise before? Is someone watching me?
Getting panicky now, I will myself to turn slowly away from the sink and walk back to the stairs. I flick off the kitchen light, and the shadows leap up at me.
I fly up the stairs, my nightgown streaming behind me, my heart thudding in my chest. I am certain there is some thing close behind me, hunting me down. I don't dare turn around - just RUN, I think. I tear down the dimly lit hallway. Just get to my bed, just get to my bed. I'll be safe in my bed.
Just as I'm convinced ghostly cold fingers are about to wrap around my throat, I reach my bed. I dive under the covers, making sure no stray foot or hand is hanging over the edge of the bed, where monsters could snatch them.
After about one minute, the comfort and familiarity of my bed soothe me, my fears shrink back, evaporate. I chuckle to myself: silly girl, I think. There was nothing to be afraid of in the first place.
Now I am safe.
I'm thirty-four years old, and I'm anxious. The house is bright, loud, chaotic.
It's 4pm, and uneasiness won't leave me. It started earlier in the afternoon - a low rattle in the back of my head, a vague sense of impending doom. My 6 month old daughter is screeching, nothing I do will soothe her. Is something wrong? Is she sick? It has got to be me. I'm doing something wrong. I take her temperature, try to feed her. Nothing works. I'm scared. I'm angry, I'm tired, and I'm so, so frustrated. I glance at the clock - 4:30pm.
Now I am safe.