It was never an issue until the situation arose, and then, Emily found herself paralyzed. She’d been known to take an alternate route to avoid having to face her fear. And it isn’t fear, exactly, but an irrational terror that seemed to trump her reason and overrule her sense of self-preservation.
Emily doesn’t want to die. She wants to live. She loves her children, she loves her husband, she has a good job and she’s mostly happy.
Emily is not afraid of death, either. She’s looked it in the face, watched as death ate her mother a bite at a time over the course of six months as she slowly wasted away.
Emily is afraid of her fear. She is afraid that in the moment of her mania — when death calls to her and opens its arms to her — that she will be unable to resist. Because in the moment, it feels like the right thing to do — like the only thing to do.
She discovered it in high school. She and her friends would go up on the roof of the school and smoke. It was only a three storey building — it wasn’t the heights that bothered her — it was the edge of the building. It called to her, and her feet seemed powerless to resist its siren’s call. It made her heart race and her body to sweat profusely. She was both terrified and aroused to the point where her skin tingled and she felt like vomiting. She felt dizzy, and had a hard time breathing. She felt powerless against the idea of falling. If she stepped too close to the edge, she would be completely unable to prevent herself from falling off.
When she was younger, it became something of an addiction, her fear. She was both excited and repulsed by it. She would drive faster than was safe, screeching along hairpin turns at night, flirting with the edge, wondering how close she could get before she could no longer turn back — she would simply fall off the edge, unable to stop herself. On weekends, she would target dangerous boys — boys with reputations for having violent tempers, and she would make out with them in the backseats of their daddy’s cars, teasing them, grinding and stroking them, revving them up to dangerous levels, and then backing off, each time going a little further, wondering each time if it would be the time where she passed the point of no return, and was swept off the edge into oblivion.
Somehow, she made it through that stage, and after a car crash that could have gone much worse, she began to look at her fear in a different way. It wasn’t her friend, and it wasn’t a thrill. It was a demon that wanted her soul, and Emily had since found reasons to live. Every morning she looked into her daughter’s face, she knew that she had to ignore that call.
Then a day would come and she would be walking across a bridge, and it wouldn’t be the height that frightened her, nor the water, or the traffic. No, it was none of those things that made her palms sweat or her bladder threaten to let go. It was the still, calm voice in her head that invited her to jump, that told her that it wasn’t even her choice — that if she got too close to the edge, that she would simply fall over into the abyss. It was thought that she might be happy — that the abyss might just be heaven for her — that was what terrified her.