Darkness Can Not Hide

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/

At first the doctor said that there was nothing wrong with me, but I proved her wrong when she turned out the lights and I screamed like a banshee until the lights were safely back on. Then I was carted off to a neuropsychologist who spent three hours studying my brain. After that, I had many counseling sessions with different counselors and therapists. But nobody could help me, I simply had an irrational fear of the dark. At least that’s what all the therapists said. Between all my appointments, I had a small gap of free time. On my mom’s phone I Googled the fear of the dark and the word “lygophobia” popped up. When I asked my doctor about it, she told me that that was the correct name for my case. So now, whenever somebody asks me what I’m afraid of I simply say that I’m lygophobic, a person who’s afraid of the dark.

I have spent the past nine years, and counting, of my life in the light. When I’m sleeping I always have a lamp on. I never play outside with my friends after dark and I always trick or treat during the day. That’s how afraid I am. At first my parents thought nothing of it. They passed it off as a childish fear that I would eventually grow out of. But finally, after a few years, they had had enough of my fear. So that’s why they took me to the doctor.

My fear doesn’t get in the way of my everyday life. I’m a regular teenager, I spend a lot of time texting my best friends and on social media. I do well in school and I’m on the cross country team. Very normal. So when Friday finally rolls around, I’m ecstatic like any other teenager would be. I’m so ready for the week to be over and Saturday is Halloween which is even better. When I get home I quickly finish all my homework. Then my older brother and I watch our favorite TV show on Netflix.

“Maya…Liam…dinner!” Mom yells to us.

As we race to the kitchen, the lights flicker, then go off. Which sets me off. I start to hyperventilate, breathing in and out, trying to calm down.

“It’s okay, Maya,” Liam tries to reassure me. “They’ll be back on soon.” He grabs my hand and drags me into the kitchen where Mom is trying to find a flashlight under the sink.

Liam helps me to a seat just as the lights come back on. I rest my head in my hands and try to steady my breathing. I hear the clatter of dishes being set down on the table and look up. A steaming bowl of chili is in front of me and I start to eat, zoning out of the conversation at hand. Dinner passes quickly but I stay on edge, afraid that I will be thrown into darkness again.

After showering and putting on my pajamas, I sit down at my desk and try to get started on my homework. I’m about halfway through my math when I suddenly look up and check my clock. It reads 10:24 PM. I sigh, close the math book and push aside the practice problems I was working on. I rest my head down on the desk and close my eyes. A few minutes later I open my eyes, sensing that there is something wrong. And there is. While my eyes were closed the power went out, again. I throw my hands out in front of me and stumble over to my bed. My heart starts pounding and I start to breathe faster and faster. Then I scream. Not a small scream, no, a blood curdling scream the resonates in my chest.

“Mom?!” I yell. “Liam?!” I screech.

I jump when there is a knock on my door.

“Maya, it’s me,” Liam pokes his head around the door.

“Hey,” I whimper, pulling my comforter up around myself.

“You okay?” He asks, sitting down next to me.

I vigorously shake my head.

“I’m going to go find a flashlight for you, okay?” He tells me.

I nod and he gets up and exits my room. I curl up in bed, staring out into space as the darkness envelops me, trying to slow my breathing and try to sleep. My whole body trembles with fear. Thoughts of monsters and ghosts and goblins race through my head, filling me with dread. Out of the corner of my eye I spot a dark shadow flit across the street outside my house. I bolt upright and hug the blanket tighter around me. Then I hear a soft knocking on my window.  Covering my eyes with one hand I peek through my fingers. A mysterious shadow crouches in front of my window. My heart feels as if it will pound out of my chest. I duck my head and burrow into the corner of my room. Then I hear a knock on my door.

“Liam?” I croak.

“It’s me,” his voice responds. “I have a flashlight.”

“Come in,” I say.

My door creaks open and a dark shadow steps over to my bed. I reach my hand out to take the flashlight from him. It’s cold and hard in my hand. My fingers look around for the switch to turn it on and a soft beam shoots from the flashlight. I look up to thank my brother but he’s not there. No, it’s not my brother, it’s a tall, black creature. The creature has long, sharp fingernails and gigantic teeth. I don’t notice the fact that I can see through this monster. I clench my eyes close and whisper to myself.

“Not real,” I whisper. “You’re not real. You’re not here,” I repeat to myself. “Go away!” I say.

I wedge my head between my knees and cover my ears with my hands.

Rocking back and forth I whisper, “Go away! You’re not real. A figure of my imagination, you’re a figure of my imagination, you’re not real!”

Tears are streaming down my cheeks, I’m so afraid. I’m scared of the darkness that’s enclosing me, I’m scared of the creature that is standing in front of me, I’m scared of the possibility that my brother is gone.

I rack my brain, trying to find a way to make this creature leave me alone. What could I do? I think and think, but I get nowhere. After ten minutes I’m suddenly hit with an idea. I tell myself that it will work and that the creature will go away. On trembling legs I stand up on my bed, taking an extra second to stay balanced. I tuck my shaking hands behind my back, the flashlight falling onto my bed with a thump.

“I’m not afraid,” I mutter to myself. “The dark won’t hurt me. I’m okay. It’s okay.”

The monster’s eyes bore into me and I can practically feel it saying that it’s not okay and that I’m forever going to be afraid of a simple thing like the dark.

“Go away!” I scream, my eyes glistening with tears. “Leave me alone! I’m not afraid!”

I keep screaming at the creature. Tears waterfalling down my cheeks. I glance away from the creature for a second and my eyes find something on my wall. It’s a quote that I wrote there in Sharpie one afternoon. The quote is: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” Eleanor Roosevelt said that. I suddenly realize the context of this quote and my confidence in myself sky rockets. But, before I can do anything, the energy it takes to scream at something and to push away fear is too much for me, it is sucked right out of my body and I collapse onto my bed, exhausted.

The next morning, I’m woken up to the sound of birds chirping. I lay in bed, soaking up the warm sunlight that spills over me from my window. I roll onto my stomach and see the quote on my wall. I read it over and over again, until it’s imprinted in my brain.

I don’t know if I’m over my fear and I’m uneasy about testing it. Instead, I push all the negative thoughts out of my mind and tell myself that I’m happy. Happy to be safe and happy to be in the light. After stretching my arms over my head, I push back my comforter and face the day.

 

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