The other night I was going to do some writing and I thought that it would be the perfect time to get in the office and write at my freshly cleaned desk. As I was heading in there, I realized I can't. Why? Because I'm afraid. I'm a grown woman and I am afraid of my office at night. This happened at the old house, too. I suppose that the biggest reason is that I wouldn't be sitting with my back to the wall which means that someone or something can sneak up on me. And then probably kill me.
I should point out that the doors were locked and, heretofore, I have never been attacked in my own home. This is not a fear based on a past occurrence or something that happened to a friend or anything like that. I have been afraid of the dark for as long as I can remember and I suppose that it started for me the way it starts for most children. I simply became aware that there is discomfort in being somewhere that you can't see what's around you. What is probably quite abnormal, though, is how this fear didn't fully subside as I got older. I blame my mother.
When I was little, I would tell my mother things scared me and she did little to comfort my fears. Generally she would say, "'Chelle, that's stupid." No explanation for why my fear was irrational, no words of kindness. I should be thankful though that this was generally what she did because there were plenty of instances where she just made things worse.
I was at my grandparents' house one Saturday evening when a commercial for Dr. Who came on. It was a pretty girl in a ruffly dress and she approached a coffin. Just as she got to it, it popped open and a vampire came out and bit her neck. I screamed. I had vampire nightmares for the next three nights in a row. Rather than telling me that vampires aren't real, my mother and I got into a discussion of how a vampire can get into your home. She explained to me that a vampire can only come in if you invite him in. I thought I was pretty smart, so I said that I wouldn't invite the vampire in. Then she explained how clever they are and how they can trick you. So I said I'd just go to my room (on the second floor) and then the vampire couldn't see me so I'd be safe. Then she told me they can float to my window and get me to let them in that way. I was probably around 6 or 7.
I suspect this is when my fear of windows surfaced. I don't know if it was because I couldn't see out of them, the fact that it was dark out or because I thought vampires would be floating outside of them, but I hated windows at night. I'm better now, I can go near them, open and close the window itself or adjust curtains. I could not do this when I was little. I was afraid I'd get up close and find out someone was right outside. I was especially scared on the first floor of the house, but it was not much better on the second floor. You would think I would just be afraid of vampires coming in, but I was afraid of humans coming in through the second floor windows, too. Because we had a front and back porch on the house, I realized it would be rather simple for someone to climb onto the roof of either porch and then climb in the window. My mother's response, "Yeah, I suppose someone could..."
Speaking of people getting in the house, at some point I began to have the fear that someone could come into our house and murder us in our sleep. I was worried that if someone came in I'd have no way out since we only had one staircase. My mother informed me that I could just go out the window and jump onto the porch roof (see how it's all one big circle here?). What if I didn't hear them until it was too late? Well, if the murderer came in through the front or back door, they'd probably kill my mother first who slept downstairs, so that would buy me some time. Comforting, very comforting.
After my father moved out, my mother never entertained a gentleman caller at the house. Therefore, the night that I could have sworn I saw a man peek into my room, naturally I was a tad perplexed. I asked my mother if perhaps my father had been there, she said of course he wasn't, it was probably just the ghost I saw. Oh, ok. Wait, what?? That's when she explained to me that she was pretty sure there was a ghost in the house because she often heard someone walking around in the night and sometimes saw shadows and blah, blah, blah and that's probably who I saw. But he was nice, and probably old Mr. Goodyear who used to own the house and died in there, so I needn't worry. Um, ok.
I heard about things like Bloody Mary (say her name 3 times while looking in a mirror and she'll jump out of it and kill you) and that made me afraid of mirrors. Recently someone told me that really only happens between 3 and 4 in the morning, so I'm less afraid of my bathroom now and I might be guilty of waiting until 4 to get up if I need to.
In no particular order, here are a few other things I'm afraid of. My phone ringing (what if it's someone calling to say they are coming to kill me?), my doorbell ringing (what if someone doesn't want to just barge in to kill me?) and some TV commercials (particularly those chat lines that try to pretend they aren't sex lines, the voices creep me out). I don't like my basement at night because of all of the ground level windows and I'm afraid of what I'll find when I get back upstairs. I'm afraid of the attic, too, but I'm pretty sure everyone is afraid of attics, aren't they?
So why am I afraid of the office? Besides the back not being to wall thing, there's one more thing. And I have to admit, I'm almost afraid to tell you what it is because the more I think about it, the more it creeps me out. There's this old email from years ago about a girl named Penny Brown. I swear to you, just typing her name gives me the chills. Go on over to snopes.com and do a search. You will see her picture. That girl scares the crap out of me. I know, she is just a regular girl and, if I remember correctly, that particular girl, whatever her name really is, was never really missing. But the look on her face, for some reason, leaves me unable to sleep because I'm so afraid of her. Anyway, as internet rumors often do, this email made the rounds many times. And somehow I was on everyone's distribution list. Sometimes I'd get caught off guard and they'd give her a different name, but that smile would still show up. I've gotten that email so many times, always at night when I'm home alone sitting in our home office (whichever house we happened to be living in at the time), that now I think I associate my office at night with scaring me half to death.
Although it's daylight now, I'm still a little worried that Penny Brown and her disturbing smile is lurking in the house somewhere. Maybe in a closet, under a bed, in the basement. She's waiting for the lights to go out so she can kill me. Maybe she'll call me first to tell me.
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