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Alone In The Dark: How fear takes hold.

Alone in the pitch-black darkness, my heart pounded with fear, suffocating me. The approaching monsters sent icy shivers cascading down my spine, their presence announced by the haunting creaking of the floorboards. To evade their gaze, I sought refuge in my father’s colossal recliner, its plush cushions offering a semblance of security. Desperation engulfed me as I silently screamed, begging for someone, anyone, to return home and rescue me from this terrifying abyss.

Earlier that day, the world appeared flawless, with clear blue skies and birds chirping in the background. The sun bathed the world in warmth, while the shade provided a soothing, cool respite. Filled with determination, I embarked on my exploration of the mysterious woods behind our house, eager to unravel their secrets. Those woods were my sanctuary, a place where I could immerse myself in nature’s teachings and endless discoveries. As the early afternoon unfolded, I ventured forth and crossed the small creek that marked the boundary between our property and the woods. Jumping across it had become second nature to me, as I effortlessly leapt towards my day’s exploration.

However, on this particular day, I immediately encountered a big black snake, its scales shimmering in the sunlight, basking on the bank. Well, from my perspective as a five-year-old with a small stature, it seemed incredibly big to me. To avoid disturbing the snake, I cautiously greeted it from a safe distance before continuing down the creek. With cautious steps, I successfully leapt to the other side, my feet landing firmly on the path I had painstakingly carved during my countless days of exploration.

Continuing my journey, I walked along the path, listening to the chirping of birds and feeling the crunch of leaves and fallen sticks beneath my feet. My curiosity was quickly sparked, and I couldn’t help but investigate further. While walking along the path, a leaf gracefully swaying from side to side captured my attention. Curiosity sparked within me as I pondered how the leaf was gracefully dancing with no apparent breeze. To my surprise, I soon spotted another half-torn leaf moving the same way. However, I spied an ant underneath that leaf on its back, joining the same journey along the path. I discovered with amazement that ants could carry objects on their backs, especially considering the long distance they must have traveled.

The abilities of the ants impressed me, especially considering their small size compared to the snake and me. While observing them for a few minutes, I became drawn to the sun’s rays filtering through the treetops, casting a warm glow on my left shoulder. I realized the time and concluded that it was necessary to press forward. Growing up near the ocean, my father’s family taught me how to use a popsicle stick to create a makeshift sundial, tracing the shifting shadows cast by the sun. It was my reliable method of knowing when to head home by the fading light of the setting sun. However, I often got so engrossed in my adventures that I lost track of time, just like I did on this particular day.

As I observed the snake and the ants, I stumbled upon a caterpillar slowly making its way up a tree trunk. Intrigued, I stood there, captivated by the graceful movements of its journey. Finally, it found a perch on a bare branch and swayed gracefully in a mesmerizing, dance-like motion. The caterpillar seemed to be cocooning itself, carefully encasing its body in a delicate, silky white thread. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was curling up for a peaceful slumber or concealing itself from me, sensing my existence. This observation left me in absolute awe, undoubtedly the most remarkable one I had ever made.

Oops! I decided to check the position of the sun, as its rays were casting long shadows across the ground. It took me a while to find the caterpillar, as it had skillfully concealed itself from my sight. I finally looked up and noticed that the sun had shifted to my right shoulder, indicating that it was late afternoon. Seeing its position, I knew without a doubt that I was in serious trouble for being so late to get home. The sun slowly descended towards the horizon, casting a warm, golden glow across the landscape. I rushed home without letting anything distract or sidetrack me from my destination.

With a growling stomach and excitement bubbling inside me, I eagerly looked forward to sharing my day’s discoveries with my mom and little sister. Skipping effortlessly back over the creek, I scanned the area and realized the black snake had vanished. It had likely made its way back home, disappearing into the comforting warmth of its den. It’s possible that its mother anticipated its arrival with great anticipation. With excitement bubbling inside me, I hopped along the backyard, feeling the soft grass beneath my feet, and leapt through the kitchen door. To my surprise, my mom was nowhere to be found in the kitchen, and there was no delicious aroma of dinner wafting through the air. I found this rather peculiar.

As I scoured the area for my sister, the realization slowly sank in that she was missing as well, leaving me with a profound feeling of isolation. Where did they all vanish to? This question echoed in my mind, leaving a trail of curiosity. My stomach growling, I retraced my steps back to the kitchen. Pulling a chair up to the cabinet, I grabbed a pack of crackers and a jar of peanut butter, creating a simple dinner for myself. Once I finished my meal, I meticulously cleaned up the table, making sure to wipe away any crumbs or spills. As the house remained empty, the daylight began to rapidly fade away, casting long shadows across the rooms.

Overwhelmed, my eyes filled with tears that threatened to spill over. I couldn’t help but wonder why they all departed, leaving me stranded. Did they forget about the lingering fear of the unseen creatures hiding beneath my bed? The monsters, with their keen senses, would soon detect my vulnerability and hunt me down. Just like my friend the caterpillar, I needed to find a hiding spot where I could blend in. With determination, I found my father’s oversized chair and hastily grabbed a cozy blanket from the couch. I tightly wrapped myself up, resembling a caterpillar, with only a small hole for seeing and breathing. There was no sign of any monsters yet, but that changed when the streetlights flickered on, casting an eerie glow in the room. Slowly, they emerged into the living room, their footsteps echoing softly on the hardwood floor.

As I looked at the walls, I could see their shadows dancing and flickering in the dim light. They seemed close, but I was certain they couldn’t see me hidden in the shadows. In that moment, not a single sound could be heard as we all stood frozen in place. The living room was cold and dark, and we were there motionless, waiting in complete silence. I couldn’t determine how long I hid like that, but every second felt like a never-ending eternity. Blinding high beams of light filled the living room in an instant, causing the monsters to disappear. An engine roared in the distance, its sound reverberating through the air and it shut off, followed by the abrupt slam of car doors. Upon their arrival, a wave of security enveloped me. To some extent. The feeling of being left alone by them never went away.I have outgrown the fear of the dark and being alone that plagued me as a five-year-old. I survived and came to understand that what I thought were monsters were actually just the distorted shadows of the living room furniture on the wall. There was nothing to fear from them. Additionally, I eventually discovered that ants possess the remarkable capability to transport loads that are 10-50 times their own weight. I was astounded by this fact. What I found even more significant was discovering that a caterpillar would undergo a remarkable transformation, spending almost ten days inside its chrysalis before emerging as a stunning butterfly. If I had the opportunity, I would have chosen to stay in the woods for ten days, inspired by the caterpillar’s innate instinct for growth and change. As had I.

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