Fear Club

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

**a flash fiction story I've been playing around with.

They all came for different reasons.  Some of them never spoke a word.  Perhaps it made them feel better to hear the fears of others and think, maybe I’m okay, maybe I’m not broken.  That wasn’t why I kept silent.

Our club met every week on a different day.  It couldn’t be consistent.  The founder was scared of repetition and believed that if people continued doing the same things at the same times, they’d turn into robotic clones of their former selves.  She was afraid she’d lose control of her own mind.  And so we met at different times, different days, different places. 

We all had something that terrified us.  Not one of the normal things like heights or spiders or death.  Ours were unique fears; ones that caused panic attacks, ones that caused lost jobs, ones that caused people to leave.  We were the irrational ones.  The ones consumed by terror.  We were trying to fix ourselves.

Bill’s story fascinated me the most.  The night he spoke I sat in my chair, silent and entranced.  He was afraid of wind.  He told us that he didn’t remember how it began.  In fact he has very few memories at all. This was part that astounded me most.  Bill was in an accident four years ago that took his family and his memories from him.  He woke up in a hospital alone, with no idea why he was terrified to go outside.  The slightest breeze now leaves him immobilized and shaking on the street.  I wonder about Bill often after that night.  I speculate in my head.  Perhaps he survived a hurricane or tornado earlier in life.  Or perhaps it was windy that night in the car with his family and he lost control.  And he lost them.  Or maybe his fear never had a real root.  He could’ve dreamt of it one night and turned it into a terror that clung permanently to who he was.  I will never know if my suspicions were true.

The night I finally spoke about my fear was the last night I ever went to the club.  This was not the result of a glorious healing breakthrough.  Sharing my story gave me no relief or pleasure.  It was the worst decision I ever made. 

I got all of the words out without taking my eyes off of the floor once.  As I took a deep breath and concluded my explanation, I looked up.  The faces of the people who were afraid of bridges and black shoes and showers and the sun now looked at me with horror, confusion and judgment. 

I realized then.  I was the most perpetually screwed up among a group of people who were consumed by senseless fears.  I felt destroyed, shattered.  What I had suspected was true.  Even the people like me didn’t understand.  I saw their faces and I froze.  I got up and left the room and I didn’t come back.  I went home.  I went back to my life. 

I am still alone now and the days continue as before.

I live fear.  I breathe fear.  I am consumed.

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