She

She was a jellyfish, floating under a wave. Bobbing gently with the ebbing current. Her translucent hair swaying silently around her still face, eyes tightly shut, sealed like death merged with life.

She was the calm in a strong wind. The centre of a storm. The silence as the raging destruction hurled life over a precipice and into the unknown. The deep breath, pregnant with dread.

She was the shadows when you slept, the coat behind the door, the woman silently watching as you tried to coax yourself to sleep. She was there, even though you convinced yourself she was just the dressing gown. Everything looks frightening in the dark.

She was surreal reality, dread behind a closed door. She was the exhibit they ignored, because it made them feel uncomfortable. She was the haunting in Connecticut, the dried eyelids in a box. She was the soft breeze that blew out the candles when the windows were closed. She was the buzzing sound of a wasp when there was none to be seen.

She held her breath for as long as she could, and when she surfaced, life flooded into her in the gasps she took of the air which hummed with oxygen. Her eyes flew open, and reflected the vivid blue stretched over her head. The waves crashed on the distant shore, and her muscles ached with the struggle for life. She kicked, hard, and glanced back. Silhouettes stood on the beach, children’s laughter carried off by the wind.

She was alive, not dead. Death hadn’t captured her yet. The current was far from her curled toes, and she pushed her chest forward with strong strokes of her slender, young arms. Back to the shore.

Back.

To life.

‘Darling, you were away for so long!’, Mam said, as she meandered with long, swaying strides towards the blanket which lay slightly rumpled in the hot sand. She bent over and towelled her hair dry.

‘I was drinking the sea,’ she murmured.

‘Do you want a sarnie? Before Chris eats them all. We’ve got egg mayo and tuna.’

‘I nearly died, mam.’

‘Don’t be silly, we were watching you the entire time.’ her mother said, cheerfully, handing her a sandwich out of a fat orange Sainsbury’s bag next to her foldable beach chair.

She took it, a fat rectangle stuffed with filling and molded like a pillow in saran wrap. She looked at the sea, crashing gently on the shore. Swimmers splashed as the sun beamed down beautifully.

I could have died, if I’d wanted to. 

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What are you Afraid of?

Do you know what I’m really scared of?

I’m scared of the dark. I am terrified of the sharp shadows when I lie alone in bed. That is why I don’t like to sleep alone. I have never slept alone except that time when my family were all away for four months and I slept in my mother’s room in an empty house.

It took me hours to fall asleep every night because every creak of the house would jolt me awake, and every shadow frightened me. I have always shared a room with my sister, and when I moved out of home I shared with my husband, obviously.

I am scared of being alone. I don’t like loneliness, even though I relish solitude. I am scared my husband will see right through me and then just leave. I don’t tell him this, of course. He will see that I am a flaky fake and he won’t love me anymore.

Maybe.

I’m not a flaky fake. I am very real and solid and very much all here. But he might wake up one day and say,

That’s it, I would like to find a new human to live with thank you very much.’

I wouldn’t be the first person this has ever happened to, certainly. I am scared of that because I love him greatly and he is good for my soul and my heart and my brain.

I’m scared of failure. I am scared I will work my butt off and not get the results I need. Or not work my butt off and not get the results I need.

I am terrified of losing my parents/family. I would be devastated and heartbroken and so guilty because I am a moody git to them and it has something to do with my siblings not pulling their weight and it annoys me so much that I can’t be nice. When I moved out I realised that they are really lazy and don’t clean up and leave it all to my mother who is already doing so much and is half blind.

And that is why our house is messy.

There.

I said it aloud. And I hate that. I don’t want to go home to visit and always clean up. I am sick of them and their selfish ways. If you live there, you need to take care of your home. So I am a moody git. And I really don’t want to be.

Why, I think, can’t they be like normal people.

I am also afraid of fear. Living in fear is gut wrenching and tummy twisting. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

The last thing I am scared of, and it certainly isn’t my least biggest fear, is the loss of my soul.

Soul is very important. It is what makes you moral and kind and real and genuine and unpolluted. People who have rotten souls are generally horrible and don’t have any kind of filter and are cruel to other people and not compassionate. They are desensitised to horror and filth and unacceptable behaviour. People who are exposed too much to that sort of thing will never regain their innocence, unless they work really hard.

Like, for example, I used to swear a great deal. It was always eff this and eff that. It is just harsh and vulgar, and a sign that my soul wasn’t that great. I mean, people can swear all they like and still be kind etc but when I did it, I was really horrible and misguided. That’s just me personally. Now, when somebody swears, I flinch a little. Which might be wimpy and cheesy but it’s true. I don’t like it. It depresses me, all that swearing. It’s petty and childish and really unoriginal. I think originality is warmth.

I think that language is so diverse and there are millions of words out there and swearing might cut it if something terrible happens or whatever but there are so many more creative words to use than the ‘f’ word. So, so many more, to be said by creative minds and to be received by minds hungry for creativity.

For example the other day when my sister was cross with me she called me a ‘bulging toad’. Which was funny and made us laugh and also wasn’t a horrible swearword insulting my mother’s birthing abilities.

Anyway.

What are you afraid of?

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