I don’t often admit it, but on occasion I find my childhood fears creeping back into my life. In fact, I’ll usually vehemently deny it. I’ll never admit to anyone that this post exists, no matter how many people read it.
The biggest fear I had as a kid was the basement stairs. I absolutely hated the basement stairs. Well, not technically the stairs themselves. It was more the fact that they were open faced and even back then my mind dreamed up some seriously terrifying monsters. I just knew a gnarled, charred hand would reach through between those stairs and grab my leg while going down. Nearly every time I went down those stairs I half expected to tumble down to the cool concrete floor at the bottom after jerking my ankle free from the grasp of whatever the creature of the week living beneath the stairs happened to be.
Going up was no different. The basement light was clear on the other side of the large, open room so it didn’t really penetrate too well into the area beneath the stairs. That only fueled my fear. More often than not, I sprinted up the stairs. On numerous occasions I tripped on the way up and ended up crawling to the top without stopping to check on my bruised shin until the basement door was safely closed behind me.
To make matters worse, my brother used to lock me in the basement. The only way to get out was either for someone to unlock the door from the kitchen side or to go down into the basement and find something to stick into the little hole in my side of the doorknob to pop the lock. I spent a lot of time standing on that landing at the top of the stairs debating on whether to wait or to go down the stairs and find a coat hanger or a nail I could unlock the door with. Usually, I ended up traversing the stairs. There was no telling how long it’d take someone to unlock the door. Obviously, nothing ever happened to me and I never actually saw anything under the stairs, but our fears have a way of being irrational, don’t they?
Occasionally, I still get that familiar tingling in my gut when I’m walking down into my basement. I tell myself there isn’t anything there, but that doesn’t make the feeling go away. I just swallow the lump in my throat and move onward. Always onward, that’s the way of life, isn’t it? Don’t stop to consider what happens if that warning in the back of your mind just happens to be right this time. Just keep moving forward, to hell with the potential consequences.
What were your childhood fears? Do they ever creep back up on you, slap you in the face, and laugh?