When I was younger, I wasn’t afraid of anything.
That’s not entirely true. Mum was in charge of family discipline; Dad was out to work all day, and it was Mum who had to deal with us after school and all day during the holidays. We knew what to expect from Mum. There was a range of punishments, depending on the severity of the crime and the extent to which it upset the well-ordered life that Mum tried to make for herself and for all of us.
Sometimes, if any of us didn’t show suitable remorse after the sanctions she’d meted out, or if we continued with the unwanted behaviour, she uttered the words that we all feared; the only thing that would bring us to our knees, literally. Yes, those words. “You wait till your father gets home”. We’d beg her not to tell Dad, and undertake never ever to repeat the offending whatever it was we did. And we meant it, we really did. At least until bed-time, when all undertakings slipped off, with us, to the land of Nod.
In fairness, I have to say that she never did tell Dad what we’d been doing; not in our hearing, anyhow. I always thought, though, that the hearty laughter we often heard from the two of them, long after we were
supposed to be asleep, may well have had some loose link to our daytime escapades.
But that, and the school bully, was the only thing I ever feared.
The headmaster st school was a bit of a tyrant, too.
We never played in the old ruins by the river. Mum told us that a bogeyman lived there, and that he hated children. It seems that he took delight in causing pain to young people. She said he was worse than the monsters that I knew lived under my bed but she said were fig-mints of my imagination. I spent hours checking out all the sweet shops, but never found anything like fig-mints, so had no idea what she meant by that. The monsters were real, as everybody knows. When she asked me, I said they’d never attacked me because I never looked directly at them. That’s what you have to do; not make eye contact with them. It works. Trust me. Our dog always attacks the postman, to stop him attacking us. That works, too. We’ve never been attacked by the postie.
She told us not to take lifts from strangers in cars, because they don’t all like children, and we shouldn’t take sweeties from strangers and particularly never ever pick up sweeties from the ground and eat them, even if they’re still in their wrappers. Why? Because there are people who inject them with poison, to make children ill.
And we had never to let a policeman catch us doing anything naughty, because they’d box our ears and throw us in jail. And keep away from strange dogs, in case they bite. And don’t play in the long grass in case there are any snakes there. If they bite you, you could die!
No, I wasn’t afraid of anything. Except Dad, the school bully, the headmaster, the bogeyman, the monsters under my bed, strangers in cars or with sweets, policeman, dogs and snakes. I won’t say anything about the vicar, because I think Mum was afraid of him, too. She always hid behind the curtains when he came into our street. Yeah, and the rent collector, too.
I miss those carefree days; we were invincible!
This week's challenge at esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com asked for a story about phobia.