The first memory I have of fear was when I was 11 years old. I can remember being scared years before that, scared of the dark, scared of ghosts and spiders, but I never felt real fear until that day.
We lived in a small village on the outskirts of a wild and windswept landscape, a place full of mysteries and faeries, rolling countryside and gurgling brooks. The village consisted of a large farm, a few cottages, a pub, a town hall and a bus stop. We lived in a small house, with a large fire place that we would light in winter and sit huddle up together while my mother read to me. It was me, my mother and my step-father. We had been living there for little over a year, and had decorated the house to suit us, the living room was adorned with pieces of gnarled twisted wood that Joey, my step father had stripped of bark and sanded down until they were smooth to the touch. They reminded me of wizard’s wands and I often wondered if they had magical powers. There were beautiful wall hangings on the walls, depicting Celtic patterns and figures intertwined in knots so complicated it would make my head spin to try and work them out. This house was warm with its yellowy-orange walls and soft edges. It was a place that I should have felt safe.
I can remember that my mother had gone out and it was just me and Joey. I had always been protective of my mother, for many years when I was growing up it was just me and her, she would take me everywhere with her, to college, to parties, to the shops, she believed she could do a better job than anyone of looking after me, so why leave me with anyone else? We were stuck together like glue, from the day I was born. So naturally when she went out I would ask where she was going and she would tell me when she would be home. I must have been busy playing because I didn’t notice the time, it had started to get late when I realised. She wasn’t back yet, normally I wouldn’t think twice about it, but for some reason today was different, today it mattered, and today is when I began to believe something had gone wrong. I looked at the clock and I looked out the window, down our narrow cobbled lane, expecting to see her coming back. As I sat in my room the strangest feeling overcame me, my chest began to feel tight, like my internal organs were too big to fit inside. As I tried to breathe in I couldn’t quite get enough air in my lungs, and it felt like I was choking. I wondered what was wrong with me, if maybe I was getting ill. It was then that I first heard the voice, it wasn’t a voice of somebody else, like the victim of a schizophrenic hallucination might hear, or a voice coming from somewhere inside the room, it was my own voice, I could hear my own voice as if I was thinking normally, although I had no control over what it was telling me.
‘She’s never coming back, something terrible has happened’ and as soon as I had heard it I couldn’t shake it. The feeling in my chest was spreading now, and it felt like my whole body was getting lighter and lighter, I could feel a strange tingling feeling in my fingers and my toes and my breath, I just could not catch my breath. But the feeling that struck me the most was in my stomach, have you ever been on one of those swinging boat rides? I remember going on one at an amusement park, it was decorated to look like a pirates boat with big plastic palm trees surrounding the ticket booth and a spotty adolescent inside looking like he would much rather be somewhere else. The boat started to rock, softly at first, but quickly gaining height and speed, until I could see the horizon and my stomach felt like it was being hauled into my chest and then dropped down to my gut, over and over again. I was reminded of this now, as I felt the intense summersaults inside my stomach, except this time I had not paid for the pleasure. My body had taken over, and there was no stopping it I couldn’t control it, my head began spinning and I remember sitting down and wishing for it to be over. I was gasping for breath and the feeling in my stomach was making me gag in sickness, and I heard it, the sound of the door opening my mother’s voice.
‘Mum!’ I cried as I ran over and grabbed her as though I hadn’t seen her in years. ‘I thought you were dead, oh thank god.’
‘What on earth are you talking about?’ Mum seemed completely perplexed, after all, she was only 30 minutes later than she had expected to be.
Everything changed after that day, and little did I know that it would be 11 years until I got my life back. For something took hold of me that day, something so dark that it would take me to the brink of insanity and back again, it was going to strip me of everything I had, and leave me bare in the face of monsters grown through my own imagining. This was a journey no one and nothing could prepare me for. If you let me, I’d like to take you with me…