When I was younger, my over-active imagination managed to frighten the daylights out of me on a number of occasions. As I look back on the numerous times I imagined scary monsters and other such bizarre things, I wonder how I could have been so susceptible to such ideas.
Since I turned about 25, I am no longer prone to worries of things that go bump in the night. In fact, nowadays, I usually go out and investigate any noises in the night, and woe betide any little beasties that might be lurking about. Not only will they get a good tongue lashing, but probably a good whack or two about the head.
Like most children I imagined monsters under the bed at night and took to sleeping under a blanket, even on the hottest of summer days. Somehow I imagined that the creature would either not see me under there, or that it would simply be too much trouble for it to rip the heavy blanket off me. Probably it was just the heaviness of the blanket that made me feel more secure.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night to find my hand hanging over the edge of the bed. Almost shrieking in terror I quickly pulled it back in under the covers. I wondered why the monster hadn't taken the opportunity to eat me. Had it been distracted by my two other sisters who shared the same room with me? I hoped that if it was going to eat anyone, it would be my older sister.
I was afraid of a lot of things when I was younger: deep wells, people and kids bigger than me, scary grown-ups and teachers, cane-toads, cockroaches ...and toasters. Yep, toasters.
I'm not speaking of a phobia, but merely that when we used the old fashioned toaster we had at home (not automatic pop-up), we had to manually place the bread in, physically turn it over and then pull the bread out when it was cooked. Just putting my little fingers anywhere near that burning item of torture frightened me. Probably I'd been singed a little previously, and then decided I wasn't going to do it any more. My dad wouldn't have a bar of it - he didn't want his child to be afraid of a mere toaster, so he made me cook the toast for a few weeks until I got over my fears.
One of my earliest memories from when I was about three years of age was the day that my sister left me behind in the playground near our home. I can recall wanting to continue playing "King of the Castle" which to my young mind, was the best game in the world. Suddenly, I realised that she had gone, and to get home, I would have to exit through a gate right next to where a group of scary teenage boys where playing softball. Crying bitter tears and wondering if I could sneak past the teens without their catching me, I realised as I scuttled through the gate that not one of them had even looked in my direction. This confused me because I thought they would try to hurt me.
Like for most children, thunderstorms were yet another thing I couldn't bear. All those flashes and loud bangs and rumbles made it seem like some big scary fiend was reaching down from the sky, it's great mouth open, sharp teeth glistening, it's tongue moist with anticipation, and ready to gobble me up. Popping my fingers into my ears, I would try to find a good, safe place to wait it out. I tried not to let onto my siblings that I was afraid, because they would just tease me.
Into my teens, unfounded fears would stop me from doing things like jumping into the diving pool. Just the thought of all that deep water, and not being able to see what was at the bottom, made me avoid using the pool. By the time I was 14, I started making myself dive down as far as I could in the pool, stand up and look around, to prove to myself there was nothing to be frightened of.
When I was 18 I became a Governess on a cattle property and the mother of the children I taught, would tell us stories about spooky things including the min-min lights that had been spotted nearby one time. As I was a trusting, naive young thing, it never dawned on me that she could be making it all up. So from that moment on, I lived in fear of strange lights that might appear on the distant mountains.
One night I can recall hearing strange metallic rattles coming from outside my window. As we had no electricity (the generator had been switched off for the night), I had no way of seeing what was outside, and I snuggled further down under my covers and hoped whatever it was, wouldn't know I was there.
The next morning, I found that one of the dogs had gotten loose and as it walked around inside the yard, the chain it was pulling along would sometimes rattle over the concrete path or other items lying around. I felt rather foolish and very relieved.
A few weeks later, I awoke in the middle of the night to the strangest noise I had ever heard, it sounded like something gnawing on bones. I feared that it was a a giant rat, or an alien that had come down from the min-min light and was standing in my room watching me as I slept. Keeping my eyes closed I waited for it to grab me, but it just continued making that weird "chewing on a bone" kind of noise. After about half an hour, I relaxed as I figured that whatever it was had obviously no intention of eating me, and I went back to sleep.
The following day, I found a dead beetle in my room. It was one of the largest and strangest I had ever seen, and must have been the source of the noise.
While these experiences scared the pants off me at the time, they were also a good learning experience, as I no longer worry about monsters or ghosts or creepy things in pools.
But ... I still hate cockroaches! And I was once chased by one that was around about the size of a VW Beetle! But that's a story for another time. ©