The Terror

Things that have Frightened Me in the Past 24 Hours: a Partial List

  • A cough sweet that dentist-numbed the roof of my mouth;
  • A car that drove by with a shark’s head paintjob (the headlights were the eyes);
  • Light reflecting off a mixing bowl;
  • My telephone (x3);
  • A weird smell in the lift;
  • That guy down the hall—man, I was swimming in daydreams, lost in some sun-dappled memory, and out he pops: “Where are you going?”—I jumped and almost screamed. And I wasn’t even going anywhere. I was just, y’know…I wander, sometimes, when I don’t feel like being at home. I snoop around the building, lurk in the courtyard, all that sort of thing…bit of haunting; no destination in mind. That guy is such a wanksack.

…ah, where was I? Oh, right:

  • The sound of my garbage disposal (though I’d turned it on, myself);
  • An e-mail from my most recent ex: I thought it was going to be a mean one. We just broke up last week, over…oh, it was nonsense: there was a taco coupon; I was so bourgeois for using it. (They were good, though, the tacos. Mushroom and ginger, guacamole and pico de gallo, sprinkled with lime juice. $7 off.)

It wasn’t a mean e-mail, by the way. It was one of those “hey, this is awkward: did I leave my scarf in your closet?” sorts of things. (But, no. Nothing was left behind.)

Well. Anyway. Back to the list:

  • A jogger’s distorted reflection;
  • A moth trying to fly up my nose;
  • That wee tune my dryer plays when it’s ready to be emptied;
  • Half a centipede caught in the lint trap. All those fabric fibers were animating its legs, tugging them about like a puppet—for a moment, I thought it was alive.

This: this is what’s giving me heartburn, all this living in fear. Half a dead insect—I jump for half a dead insect. When’d I get so timid?

Y’know, I was watching Monk, a while back—it’s this show about a detective with a list of phobias longer than his arrest record—and someone leaned over the back of the couch, tapped me on the head, and went “hey! That’s you! That’s exactly you.” I was all, “nah; he’s afraid of milk. I’m not afraid of milk.” But the other day, I called a vegan restaurant to make sure their almond turmeric latté contained no dairy…. I mean, it would’ve been a reasonable enough question, had it not been a vegan restaurant. No-one wants indigestion.

Oh, what have I become?