Fear Of Feathers

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I have always had a severe phobia of feathers but sometimes phobias just have to be confronted.

Submitted: June 04, 2016

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Submitted: June 04, 2016

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Fear Of Feathers.

I have always had a severe phobia of birds, and of feathers especially. You know the ones that are lying on the path as you walk down the road: I would have two choices if I came towards one; take a diversion, or turn around and go back home.

I could never walk down a road where birds were gathered. Living quite near London at the time a trip to the capital would prove severely traumatic due to the huge numbers of pigeons that would gather there. Trafalgar Square and its surrounding areas were a definite no-go area.

It wasn't a sudden phobia. From when I was a tiny toddler I had to be removed from the room when the budgie was released for its cage to be cleaned. If it came anywhere near me I was told I would become a screaming, hysterical wreck. And that was a long time ago.

Of course, some people cannot help but take advantage once they discover a weakness, especially one so easy to exploit. My brother, one and a half years older than me, collected feathers. He had boxes of them, the bigger the better. He was especially pleased with the pheasant tail feathers he had found. If you are not familiar with them let me just say that they were well over 18 inches long. And he was not afraid to use them as a weapon against me if I caused any sort of problem for him.

There have been others in my life who have also used this fact to their advantage but I won't go into that. Let's just say it was sometimes difficult to tell who was the parent and who was the child.

Then things changed. Almost two years ago we were adopted by a family of cats. The mother, a gorgeous white polar bear of a cat, together with a beautiful tabby male who may or may not have been the father turned up in our yard. With them was a tiny white kitten, not yet able to stand and walk properly. We left them alone, watching from a distance.

The following morning there were three kittens, several hours later there were four. We watched her carry them round in her mouth. Once we decided to let them stay we put blanketed boxes in one of the sheds for them and we would spend hours outside making friends with them, letting them learn to trust us.

The mother was very protective at first but soon relaxed around us. But she remained protective around other threats and when the magpies decided to go after the kittens she was going to protect them. And that she did, leaving me with the body of a very large magpie to contend with.

Nobody else here was either capable or willing to remove this corpse. I'd stay well away, keeping my distance. A magpies tail feather is not much shorter than a pheasants after all.

After a day of it just laying there I had to give in to the idea that it wasn't going to move itself. It was constantly on my mind, continuously drawing my eyes towards it.The body would have to go and I would have to be the one to remove it.

Okay, first let me confess that I was scared. No, make that absolutely terrified! I covered every bit of exposed skin that I could. I put on gloves and a hat pulled down low. I walked shakily over to the shed where a knew there was a long handled shovel.

Long handled shovels are great for moving things that you don't want to be too near, but not so great at getting the thing onto in the first place. And this bird was big! My shaking hands weren't helping either.

Once I managed to get it onto the shovel enough to lift it slightly, only for it to overbalance and fall back to the ground. That was it! I almost turned tail and ran; I almost left it to moulder where it lay. But a few deep breaths, a few sideways glances, and back I crept.

I forced myself to look, to work out the heaviest part that needed to be on the shovel. The problem then was that with the body on the shovel the wings would be dangling down, and those wing feathers were almost as long as those on its tail.

I'd wasted too much time. It wasn't going to go. I gritted my teeth, squinted through my eyes and approached it. I held my breath, which of course made it worse, but I did it. I got that magpie onto the shovel, walked with it and got rid of it.

I felt sick and faint for hours and the shaking continued throughout the day but that experience pretty much defeated a life-time phobia. I'd gone through hell and come out the other side.

It's just as well really. With six cats, all of which will hunt when they get the urge, there have been other bodies to deal with and I have had no problem with doing so. I can walk over feathers the same as the next person.

But that fear is still lurking there. Birds, especially crows and owls, crop up frequently in my writing. They always represent threats or fears, attacks either physical or emotional. But just occasionally I'll allow them to become an ally and maybe that is my way of signifying that the character they are relating to has also conquered some great fear.

Now spiders! I've never minded them at all!


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