?The little girl tries to be brave, but the fear rises into her throat until she is sure the pressure will choke her.? Mother has just told her grandpa is going to stop by while she is at work to drop off a check.? The girl nods and tries to smile, silently praying to God that her two sisters will be home by then.? When all three are home they are \"safe\".? Being \"home alone\" is not a comedic movie.? It's not the mother's fault; she doesn't know the secret held by the sisters.? They try to protect each other by being together when he comes over.? But they don't tell.? Each of the three considers it, but no one does.? It is the sixties, and the fact is, such things are not discussed.? ?Much later after he is dead, the truth comes out.? The sisters would find out they were not alone, the same incidents of fear had also happened to their cousins.? I know from personal experience, I am the little girl who tried to smile through her fear.
??????????? The youngest of the three, my first memory of the \"fear\" is when I was ten years-old.? My sister Annie, two years my senior, says it started much earlier.? At first I'm not sure we knew that the fear was shared by all three of us.? I do remember Annie asking me one day if I was afraid.? When I answered yes, we devised a plan to protect each other and our oldest sister Karen.? Although we tried, our plan didn't always work.? There were times Grandpa would show up unexpectedly.? When I was home alone, the closet was my \"safe haven,\" climbing inside with the front door going unanswered. ?I was \"spared\" that day.
??????????? Uncle Phil, a Michigan state trooper, lived up north.? I loved to visit him and his family.? One summer day when I was eleven, there was a plan to take a trip to see them.? Excitement shot through me!? I happily packed my bag for the visit.? Then he showed up and my mother informed me I was riding in his car so he wouldn't be alone.? The fear crept in, winding its way into my soul.? I asked to ride with my mom.? She laughed and said the rest of the family would be along shortly.? Fighting back tears, I got into the car, sitting as far from him as possible.? So close to the door in fact, that the handle jabbed me in the side. As I turned my head so no one could see my tear filled eyes, I looked into Annie's fearful face.? I attempted to look confident as we backed out of the driveway.? Before long we were on I-75 heading north.? He smiled and tried to talk to me, but the fear had taken over.? Like a boa constrictor, fear was squeezing my chest, I couldn't breathe.? I answered his questions with short stilted words.? He patted the seat right next to him, and told me to slide over.? Managing a quivering smile, I shook my head and looked out the window.? It was a gorgeous summer day, the leafy green trees swaying in the gentle breeze, but the beautiful scenery went by unnoticed.? My only thought was to get this trip of fear over with as soon as possible.? Hour upon agonizing hour went by.? Finally, we turned into my Uncle Phil's driveway.? As soon as the car stopped, I jumped out and ran in the door and hugged Uncle Phil.? He scooped me up into his arms, pleased that I was so happy to see him.? He had no idea how happy.? Shortly after our arrival, the car carrying my mother, step-father and sisters pulled up the drive.? As she got out of the car Annie whispered in my ear, asking if I was alright, I nodded and gave her a bright smile.? That said we then went our separate ways.? She with Ellen, my older cousin and I went with Sherry, my younger cousin and we enjoyed the rest of the family gathering.
??????????? However, that was not the last time fear entered our lives.? Another episode was lurking, waiting for us to relax and let our guard down.? And before long the evil struck again.? This time it attacked Annie, I was in the bedroom when there was a knock at the door.? Seeing him at the door, yet knowing she was not alone, fear had not let its presents be known.? So with confidence she opened the door.? However, it took me a few seconds to finish making my bed.? That amount of time was enough.? As I walked into the living room, I could smell the bitter, acrid odor of fear.? Moreover, I could see it swirling above Annie's head and descending down into her eyes as she looked at him. ?Fear had returned. ?I had taken to long in the bedroom. ?That few seconds had opened the lock and allowed fear to escape.? He was standing much to close to her.? Believing Annie was alone and vulnerable he was about to strike!? As I swept into the room, grandpa backed away and smiled rather nervously.? Fear, losing its unholy grip on Annie, was once again contained.? She looked at me with relief and resumed her confidant attitude.? She calmly asked him what he wanted.? Grandpa said he needed to talk to mom.? When we told him she was at work, he left without another word.? As soon as he walked out the door, Annie hugged me.? She was shaking!? In contrast to how calm she looked, she had been battling fear even after I walked into the room.
??????????? Karen grew up, got married and escaped.? It was then, when Annie and I were teenagers, we decided it was time to tell our mother about the fear.? At first there was no reaction.? We were not sure whether she believed us or not.? As a result, we dropped the conversation.? However, a thick cloud of darkness hung over the house for a very long time.? Was it disbelief, confusion, we were not sure.? But we dared not bring it up again.?
??????????? A few months went by, the subject faded away and we again protected each other.? Not only with our fear but also with everything else teenage sisters keep secret.? Annie had a boyfriend; she would sneak out to see him at night. ?Our mother discovered that fact and found out I knew, she was furious with me in addition to Annie.? Mom was so upset that she called him to come over and talk.? When he arrived, mom proceeded to tell him about the fear. ?She chose that moment was because she was angry and wanted to punish Annie and me for misbehaving.? As she began to speak, Annie and I bolted from the room.? In the bedroom, I climbed into my \"safe haven\" and Annie sat on the bed.? Mom and grandpa entered the room.? Annie coaxed me out of the closet to face our demon.? Without admitting guilt to our mother, grandpa acted deeply hurt and cried when he hugged us.?
??????????? Time marched on and we found that fear was not present when grandpa was around.? In spite of our reservations, we decided that deep down in his black soul he must have been remorseful. ??Annie and I relaxed, enjoying our new found freedom.? Though soon Annie also married and I was alone with mom.? Years went by; grandpa was on his best behavior.? Life was good!? I was nearly eighteen and my future was bright.? Still, one day the fear returned.? Grandpa stopped by, mom wasn't home from work yet.? He stepped close.? The old fear welled up into my throat.? I backed up.? He stepped closer yet again.? I felt my panic rise, not knowing what to do.? He asked me why I was backing up. ?I couldn't answer.? I was the little girl again, battling the fear. I was close to choking!? Just then a car pulled into the driveway.? Mom was home!? Grandpa was the one who backed up this time.? He went to the door to greet my mother.? Relief course through me, my legs weak, I sat down as she entered the room, after they talked for a few minutes, he and the fear left for home.? Although the fear had returned, I did not tell, choosing not to fight that battle alone.?
??????????? However, as fate would have it, the fear never invaded my soul again, the day after my eighteenth birthday grandpa died.? As I sat next to my weeping mother at the funeral, tears slid down my cheeks.? Not for the man in the coffin, but for the pain my mother felt.? She had depended on him so.? Sitting there, holding on to mother's hand, the only thought going through my mind was, we were at last free.? The secret fear, suffered by me, my sisters and many of my cousins, died that day.?? And similar to what had happened many years ago, once discussed, it was never mentioned again...until now. ?????????????????????????????????????????????
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