Last night was Halloween and although all the little ghosts, goblins, princesses, and the like were out in full force, somehow it just didn’t seem right. I’m a New Englander. It’s in my blood. Sitting beneath a palm tree in Florida handing out candy just didn’t cut it for me. The warm air gently swaying the palms beneath a slow breeze made the children seem more like intruders than welcomed guests.
So I sat beneath the palm tree, closed my eyes, and let the soothing sounds of kids going door-to-door drift by. Neighbors oo’d and ah’d with delight at the makeshift costumes, ghosts called eerily as intruders ascended driveways, misted lawns hid partially exposed giant spiders, and pumpkins glared with flame-filled eyes at all who passed.
My mind drifted back to my own neighborhood, my own childhood, my own spooky Halloween… and the headless Reaper dressed in black. He sat in an old rocking chair on an old, crickety porch strung thick with cobwebs. I remember him well. His body sat as still as the dead and his bony hands wrapped around a plastic pumpkin filled with candy. I approached with caution trying to be as brave as the other kids who walked up the porch to ring the bell. The door opened and a woman with a warm smile appeared. She reached into the pumpkin on the headless man’s lap and handed out fistfuls of candy to the kids on the porch. Still he didn’t move. Something was wrong. I felt it. I knew this with every bone in my body, but my little eight year old eyes focused more on the candy now.
I waited for that group to leave the porch, took hold of my pillowcase with both hands, and bravely began my ascent up the long winding driveway. My foot hit the first wooden stoop and then it happened. His large, ominous frame slowly rose; his long black robe draped over his body. His head was gone, yet his low, deep voice rumbled in my ears. “Happy Halloween little trickster,” he said. It seemed like forever to catch my breath, but once I did I let out a startlingly shrill scream that made everyone stop and stare. As I turned to run, my face hit a spider’s web complete with occupant. I wiped at my face with frantic hands. Cleared of the web, I dropped my prized pillowcase full of candy and ran all the way back to my brother standing in wait at the end of the driveway. The man followed behind. “Wait! I’m sorry, honey, it’s okay. Here, I have candy for you.” But it was too late. The damage was done. The fear of that night would forever be burned in my soul.
A small voice sounded and I opened my eyes to rest on a beautiful little princess no more than five standing in front of me. “Hi. I mean, trick-or-treat,” her tiny voice spoke as she held out her bag.
I leaned forward to drop a few snickers inside and she backed away a step with wide eyes. “What’s wrong?” I asked and followed her eyes to my arm.
“Is that a real spider on your arm?”
I glance down and my heart stops for the briefest of seconds. I shake my arm and the large, fury insect falls to the ground disappearing into the night. Again the fear of long ago returns and for a moment… only a moment… I embrace and love it. A shot of adrenaline courses through my veins and I feel the sudden rush of someone who has just escaped something horrible.
I smile at her. “Why, yes it was, but my friend is gone now. Here,” I say and reach out to drop the candy in her bag.
She squeals and runs away. “Ewww! Mommy, that lady had a real spider on her arm and she called it her friend!”
The woman and I exchange a smile and they continue down the road.
This is the same fear my character, Danni Montgomery, from THE CONSEQUENTIAL ELEMENT feels when she has to return to the Congo to face the man who killed her mother, stole her innocence, and may have kidnapped her uncle. She embraces it and loves it.
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How does this post pertain to writing? Simple. Don't let fear stifle your flow. Embrace it; love it. Feel the adrenaline rush through your mind when the words begin to flow. It's a high unmatched by any other.
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