For the past few months I’ve been doing a daily writing assignment through Austin Script Works. They email a prompt each day and you use that to write whatever comes into your head – a play, a monologue, poem, etc. Today’s prompt is:
The Single Thing That Scares Me The Most
I decided to do a top 10 of my scariest things, straight from mind to paper without any editing, just to see what came up. Here’s the list, in the order that I wrote it.
10 – getting fat
9 – drowning
8 – storm (our dog) being stolen
7 – being caught shoplifting
6 – a snake dropping on my head
5 – being chased by Nazis
4 – the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and/or Mrs Danvers in ‘Rebecca’
3 – Erik dying
2 – talking to children
1 – dropping a baby
I’m actually quite proud of my list because it’s entirely self-serving and true to me. If I were a Hollywood starlet and in the pages of Trashy Weekly I’d probably feel compelled to claim ‘the destruction of the environment’ as my number one fear. Whilst I am fairly concerned about that, it’s possible that the destruction of the environment might well mean a reduction in the snake population which would remove my fear of airborne snakes.
I’ve always had a phobia about snakes but the whole dropping on my head thing came when were on holiday in Costa Rica and doing a bit of kayaking in the rainforesty areas. Our guide told us to look up occasionally as snakes sometimes fell from the trees. I doubt that God foresaw this when he banished the sneaky serpent from the garden of eden. Of course he was also wrong about the whole ‘eating dust for the rest of your days’ thing as I’m fairly sure snakes eat mice and rabbits and chiauauau’s.
Being chased by Nazi’s is also based on personal experience. Well not strictly, I had a recurring dream about Nazi’s as a child, which I think stems from watching a series called Secret Army about the Belgian resistance movement during the second world war (light Saturday night fare) and from a book my mother bought me, called ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ about a Jewish girl’s escape from Germany with her family. I wanted a book called ‘The Ballet Shoes’, which did not feature Nazi’s but my mother was determined to make me grateful for not being Jewish.
Also from my childhood are the two film references. I’m sure I’m not the only one still scarred by the Childcatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, who could smell the blood of children. This was back in the good old days when we were perfectly happy to accept sweets from strangers. To be honest I still would, but I don’t get too many offers. Mrs Danvers from the 1940 film Rebecca, is a more personal choice, she’s a terrifying character, especially when she encourages the new Mrs de Winter to kill herself by jumping out the window – saying ‘why don’t you jump?’. I have a faint memory of my brother saying the same thing to me when I was about 11 and trying to prove how brave I was, but I may be confusing this with some other childhood trauma he inflicted on me.
I think it’s good that my fear of Erik dying is in my top 3, but interesting that it’s not quite as horrifying to me as having to talk to a child. If he does die first I’ll have to ban any children from the funeral or I might become a bit distracted from my grieving, though this also could be a good thing. I might also arrange to have a few snakes at the service.
And my single thing that scares me the most -: dropping a baby. This isn’t some sort of casual slang for having a baby, this is properly dropping a newborn that the parents have entrusted me with and is the reason that I usually refuse any offers to hold one. Except for next door’s child, who I did hold when he was a few months old, and after 3 years of listening to him scream, have lived to regret my failure to drop him.
The rest of them need no explanation. Except maybe the shoplifting one, which features in my past, but mainly involved tubes of lip gloss from Superdrug and sweets from the Woolworth’s pick ‘n mix (where were the sweet proffering perverts when I needed them?).
What about yours?