All it took was a knock. It was as if the door was waiting for that knock. Anyone who knocked at that exact moment would have been let in. Waltzing in, grand and majestic, was the oppressing feeling of fear. The air in the room grew dense as if sinking to its feet, incapacitated. The carefully cultivated silence wilted in a corner under the dry heat of the ringing in her ear.
She was at the desk, seated on the chair, reading. The chair was the only friend the desk had made. They were very unlike each other but they were inseparable. As they sat with their legs intertwining, basking in the warm smile of the table lamp, they knew that their friendship was central to her reading habit. She always read here, leaning back on the chair, her legs tucked away under the table, careful not to leave footmarks on the white walls beyond.
As fear walked in, she stood up to face it, as if expecting it. But, as if in a spell, her head bowed involuntarily, her courage slipping out through her ears. She felt the heaviness in the air stretch her lips into a frown, force tears out of her eyes and sobs through her lips. It felt like she along with fear were being sealed and dropped into the vast, endless ocean. She was not wet but she could sense the water right outside her window. It was dancing coyly around her window, making friends with her walls. Greenish blue water, light and dense at the same time, rippling all the way to the horizon.
She loved the water, she always had. She was a water baby. But this was different. It had taken her a decade to build this room for herself to sit in. She had saved up money, learned about construction and built it brick by brick. But floating in water, this room was not a buoy, it was her prison. She had no money. She worried about how she would buy things. What would she wear? How would she feed her unborn children? What would she read? Yes, she had built the room with the idea that she would sit in here and read to her heart’s content. Even though she’d never had money, having ground beneath her feet had kept fear at bay.
If she got out of this room now, which direction would she swim in and for how long? And what would happen when she tired?
Gliding down the gurgling spiral of fear, outdoing herself, she had forgotten one tiny detail. The luxury this predicament afforded her. She could reread all her books. She could spend time with fear, get to know it better, appreciate its magnetism. She could watch the ocean all day from her window. Amid the chaos of spiralling, she had not stopped to consider the absurdity of her doubts. Why would she have to feed her unborn children?
The ocean is a living being that breathes in waves. Eventually, it always heads to a land to entertain the beach bums. And if she were in fact to be consumed by the ocean, wouldn’t that be the end of fear as well?
She opened her eyes and sniffled, recalling all the shed tears and straightening out her mouth. She offered fear some tea and leaned back in her chair to reread her favourite book.