I’ve always loved being scared. Well, that’s a lie. I always got a thrill from being scared and THAT’S the part I loved. The actual scared part? Not so much. To this day I’m basically the same. Love watching scary movies, the excitement, the terror, the thrill in my otherwise vanilla existence. And then? The terror of lying awake in bed that night, trying not to think of demonic hands under the blankets, yanking me down by my feet.
It’s the same formula every single time.
Horror + someone who makes me feel safe=Yay!
Horror + Alone=Holy fuck, what have I done?
And such it has been since the dawn of my existence.
When I was a kid, I used to read scary stories. Like, literally. You know, the scary stories books? I loved them but they freaked me out so much my mother noticed and wouldn’t let me read them anymore for which I was both resentful, then grateful, and then resentful again. It didn’t stop me, though. There were other such books out there, albeit without the incredible artwork that made every little kid’s mom look through the illustrations and think, “What the fuck?”
Seriously, the artwork MADE those books.
There was a book called, “Strangely Enough,” that I was obsessed with. Just a bunch of short scary stories that jarred me so much I threw the blasted thing across the room, determined to never read it again til the next day when I inevitably picked it right back up.
I also loved scary movies, though I wasn’t allowed to actually watch any, other than kiddy dumbed down things I’ve mentioned in another post. Still, I had to get my kicks in where I could, so Don Knotts and Scooby Doo it was.
Throughout my childhood my obsession with horror gave me quite an imagination, also something I’ve mentioned. My nightmares were frequent and outlandish and robbed my father of much sleep as I screamed out in the night for him. To his credit, he always plodded in and tried to reassure me. Gosh, you should have seen me and my siblings when they made the mistake of showing us Earnest Scared Stupid. We had to stop halfway through and it took us years to get up the guts to finish it.
For someone who loves horror, I’m rather chicken shittish.
When I was 15, my twin (T) and I watched a documentary at a friend’s house about Jack the Ripper. It sparked a lifelong obsession for me and absolute terror for T. That night, she timidly asked if I would sleep on her floor in her bedroom, too scared to be alone. I indulged her, setting up my sleeping bag and conking out on her hard, wretched floor. The next night she asked me to stay again. And the next. And the next. Eventually, she got over being scared, but funnily enough we had such fun staying in the same room that I slept on her floor for another 8 years. Yes. 8. I slept on her floor until I got married and moved out at 23. The whole time I had a bed and room of my own and I suggested that I just move my bed in but nope. She didn’t want it cluttering up the place. For some reason I accepted that (what the hell was I thinking?) and dealt with sleeping bag life for nearly a decade.
Thanks, Jack the Ripper.
Over the years, my love of horror has grown. I already mentioned quite a bit of it in that White Noise post so I won’t repeat myself. But just know this. I live my life in a near constant state of terror. S habitually scares me on accident when I’m doing dishes and I find myself scream-sobbing each and every single time. I’m also afraid of the dark. I sleep with three nightlights and, if particularly afraid, I sleep with my lamp on.
Fun fact. When I was a kid I used to do this too, lamp on in the wee and spooky hours. Until I nearly torched the house when my favorite stuffed animal, Jennifer, got a little too close to the lightbulb and I woke up to her smoking and semi-on fire. Here, take a look.
That black patch is definitely not supposed to be there. Poor thing’s eye actually melted. I woke my dad up in hysterics because of my poor Jennifer, not even thinking about the near miss if she’d caught fire. God I’m lucky my fear didn’t burn the family alive.
So, my point is, I love horror. But my out of control fears have been…problematic.
Have you ever seen Hereditary? If you haven’t, I’m not going to ruin it for you, but it’s a doozy of a horror movie. Hell, parts of it are downright traumatic. If you’ve seen it, you know which part. THAT part. Holy shit that messed me up. Well, I watched it a couple years ago with S, and one scene just struck me as particularly freaky.
There’s a part where a person takes a piano wire and rather vigorously saws their own head off with it. Then, their headless body floats around, wreaking havoc in their decapitated wake.
I still think of that part, on a daily basis. It really spooked me. Like, made my husband go to the basement with me because there was no way in hell I was going alone, spooked me.
Now, at the time, I used to drive to a client’s house to train her, three times a week. I went ungodly early. It was 5 something and S had already left for work. The streetlight across the street had been burned out for weeks and the darkness was, therefore, extra dark, and our street was always dark anyway. Dark enough that no one let their kids trick or treat on that block. 10 years of living there we only ever had 2 trick or treaters, the whole 10 years! So, I wasn’t happy about what little light there was being snatched away.
Besides being dark, it was also rainy. And I’d decided it was a good idea to wear ugg boots, the most useless foot-wear known to mankind. Oh, and did I mention my driveway was covered in slippery moss? I was doomed from the start.
So, the thing about my old driveway is, we had a motion sensor light that would only stay on for about 10 seconds. I’m not exaggerating. It was that fast. I had 10 seconds to run from my front porch, down the drive and get into my car before that light went out. Otherwise, obviously, the piano wire decapitator would burst from my shrubberies and get me, as one does. Having just watched the movie a day or two before, it was all fresh in my mind, so I was extra motivated to book it, and book it I did.
I burst out the door, down the porch steps, down the walkway and to the driveway. I had just reached my car and that’s when I slipped. My ankle slid underneath me. With the moss I had no hope of traction. I heard a loud SNAP! Down I went in a heap. I don’t think I even caught myself, I just let the driveway claim my suddenly limp body, giving up on life within an instant. The funniest part is, about two seconds after I fell, that fucking motion light went, “DINK!” and I was plunged into blackness.
I remember a numb feeling spreading up my ankle, though it definitely hurt too. I also remember feeling like I’d really screwed up. At the time, I thought it was broken, the snapping sound the main contributor to this feeling. I laid there on the wet driveway, all alone in the darkness, and I called out for help. Nothing. None of the neighbors seemed to be awake yet, so I was forced to crawl on hands and knees the long way back to the front door and up a flight of steps.
Long story short, it sucked. My foot was already swelling considerably and I was home alone. In the end my dad came and looked at it and agreed I’d definitely come to harm, but neither of us were sure if it were broken or not. I ended up going to work that day (conveniently at a doctor’s office) and one of the doctors thought it was just sprained and that I’d heard my ligaments tearing when I’d heard the snap. Turned out to be the case, but it took me about 2-3 months to fully heal from my little venture. I was on crutches for the first week or two and then I hobbled everywhere after that. Sleeping at night was awful because the covers put pressure on my foot but I was too chicken shit to stick my leg out of the blankets because what if that piano wire person was hiding under my bed and grabbed my leg and drug me under to cut my head off? Unacceptable.
Funny thing is, all this happened on January 7th of 2020. S even rolled his eyes and said, “Well, this isn’t a promising way to start the new year.”
If you’d told me then that the rest of the year would also hold a global pandemic, killer bees, forest fires, civil injustices, economic hardships and a chaotic and unprecedented shortage of toilet paper? Well…I think I would have just let that floating, headless, motherfucker take me.