Afraid, Alone, and Clowns on My Porch

Posted by in Stuff About Writing

I’m laying in bed. The covers are pulled up to my chin and I’m staring at the ceiling. It’s quiet, quieter than I’ve ever noticed it being. I can hear the dishwasher running from the other end of the house. Lincoln snoring (like only bulldogs can) in his bed. My eyes are closing, the pressures of a long day almost forgotten.

Suddenly, I’m up like a bolt. An icy river running down my neck and between my shoulder blades. Heart thumping through my chest. Was that the front door knob jiggling?

First, my mouth is a desert and my palms are slick. Then I’m tiptoeing down the hall, a ball point pen gripped in my hand like a knife. Of all the things in my nightstand it isn’t the worst choice. I can hear my pulse. I peek around the corner to the front window. I crawl across the floor and peer over the sill.

In my mind’s eye there are three guys, two big and one smaller, skinny one in clown masks. They are laughing and have long knives and a crowbar. In real life:

Nothing.

I let out the breath that I didn’t know that I was holding, finding myself on my back, heaving, on the playroom carpet.

I check all the doors and windows again. Locked tight. Back to the bedroom. I’ve left the master bathroom light on. I climb back into my empty bed in my sweat pants and hoodie, not what I usually wear to bed, but what I wear when I’m alone. I wouldn’t want to have to bludgeon anyone with the baseball bat that I just remembered is in my closet in panties and a tank top.

I pull the blankets back up and try to read my novel for a bit until I stop sweating and I can no longer hear the rush of blood in my ears. The clock on the dresser says it’s nine oh four.

My eyes flick on their own to my laptop on the nightstand.

It’s too early to be this afraid.

Josh is gone for the week. He does this for work enough that I should get used to it, to being alone, but I don’t.

I know I’m an adult. I’m capable of anything. I’ve walked through sketchy neighborhoods in multiple cities and not batted an eye. But being in bed alone? I hate it.

I’ve never really had to be alone. I lived with roommates through undergrad, my parents in grad school, then I got married and Josh has shared my bed ever since. I’m terrible at it. Before children I used to stay up until I fell asleep on my face. I would buy all the treats that I didn’t want to eat in front of other people and watch terrible TV until I passed out. Now that I have kids, and I know that I will be up at 7am no matter what, I try to use the “free time” after they go to bed to catch up on emails and reading, or spend a few extra moments on the treadmill, and yet, I’m still sitting in bed alone at 9pm.

The weirdest part, is that I crave silence. I’m introverted, melancholy, and a daydreamer. On a normal day, I want nothing more than just a few moments of quiet, a little bit of me time, the ability to be alone with my thoughts. That is, until I’m left alone with my thoughts, and then, then I’m scared out of my mind.

It’s not just murderers and rapists lurking outside my door that frighten me. It’s worse. I fear productivity. I’m scared to write. I’m scared to allow myself to focus. I’m scared that if I do those things I’ll have no excuse for the crap that I produce. Right now, I can blame everything on having no time, having no focus, having two babies in my lap all of the time. But what about when I do try?

What can I hide behind?

He’s gone for five days. Five days times at least two hours of quiet per night. If I stop pretending to be an old lady and go to bed at a normal time it’s really more like five hours of quiet.

What could I do with twenty five hours if I stopped being afraid?

What could you do?