Friday, May 17, 2013

The Nature of Fear

I don't usually write about my personal life, but something happened on Sunday that is still freaking me out a bit, so here goes.

There's a bike path probably about a city block or two from my house. Not sure of the distance, because I don't live in the city, so we don't have city blocks to measure with - but I think it's about that far. Anyway, we had planned to go for a walk on the path with the two youngest kids - both two years old. None of the older kids wanted to go, so my mom went inside to ask my dad and brother-in-law to come outside to watch them, while the rest of us went for a walk. Problem was that my nephew went in with her.

Why was this a problem, you ask? Because when they came back out, he decided that he wasn't going to wait for the rest of us and started running up the driveway. We didn't think anything of it, we have a long driveway, and he's allowed to play on it up to a certain point. And he knows that point and is usually very good about staying where he's allowed to be. Except this time... he didn't.

All of a sudden, my sister just goes "Oh crap! I don't think he's going to stop." And then she jumps up and starts running after him. The rest of us just froze. I'm not proud of that. I say, in hindsight, that the part of me still capable of logic knew that I would never out run my sister. But, while that is true - I don't really know that that's what kept me from running after him. I think I really did just... freeze.

All I could do was stand there, yelling his name. And I just kept seeing that horrible scene from Pet Semetary flashing through my head. She caught him... at the mailbox. Literally one step away from being in the street. This would have been scary enough on a residential street. But we do not live on a residential street. We live on a fairly busy street, with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour, and rather a lot of truck traffic.

It's just a terrifying thought that had it taken her even two more seconds to realize that he wasn't going to stop... we may have ended up spending Mother's Day at the morgue, saying goodbye to a two-year-old. And I've been having nightmares every night since. Nightmares of her not catching him in time. We were joking about it by the end of the day - probably to keep from thinking about it, too much - but I have never been so scared in my life.

Fear is a weird emotion. And the effect it can have on someone is pretty profound. You hear so much about adrenaline, and the whole "fight or flight" instinct - but how often is someone literally "frozen in fear"? And how is that for a range of effects? Everything from the mothers who lift whole cars off of their kids, to the people who just stand there, immobilized and just incapable of even moving - and just about everything in between.

And then there's the things it can do to time. Funny thing when you're in a situation like that - time becomes extremely distorted. To the point that the same few moments seem to be over in the blink of an eye - while simultaneously being stretched into what almost seems like hours. This doesn't seem like it should be possible - yet there it is.

All is well that ends well, and he is perfectly fine. And actually was kind of cute, because he knew he had been very bad. My sister brought him into the house, and he went right to his room - and climbed into the crib. Yes, he put himself to bed, and apparently he ended up with an adrenaline crash of his own, because he fell asleep.

And I am going to chalk this up to being a special kind of learning experience. The next time I have a character in a situation that is at once heart-stopping and pulse-pounding, I will know exactly how they feel.

And that is my semi-coherent ramble for today. Either later today or some time tomorrow I will post another character bio, and then Sunday is another snippet from Eternity's Price.

1 comment:

  1. Life is good for inspiring writing without a doubt. I've been in similar situations. It's not a good feeling to know that you could have done something but something in you made it so that you couldn't. Worse is when something bad actually happens, and you keep blaming yourself. I'm glad everything turned out all right.