This evening I took the dog for a walk. It’s winter here, so evenings are dark early. Knowing that I get jumpy and easily anxious in the dark I wanted to push myself. So I set off on my usual track – off course what I stupidly hadn’t considered is that my usual track is by the water and there’s no lights. I, of course, always carry a torch. But still, I wasn’t going easy on myself!
Convinced I was brave and wouldn’t be put off by irrational fears we headed off. Me, purposefully taking slow steps as a f-ck you! To fear! All was going well. The wind and rain had given us a reprieve after days. The dog was having a blast. The full moon meant I was treated to plenty of light and pretty reflections off the water.
It was on the way back it started. First a rustle in the trees, I assumed it was the dog, only to see the dog grinning inanely next to me. OK, must be a possum, it’s definitely not a crazed attacker. Bit further along I hear what sounds like thudding, distant traffic or serial killer and my imminent demise? Obviously the latter! So we continue, my dog oblivious to the fact that I am now panting and my own ears are more pinned back than his. My car seems like a sanctuary sent from the heavens, however I’m also conscious that there’s probably carjackers now waiting for me to turn at my most vulnerable angle so that they slit my neck and take off. I have the whole image playing in my head. Of course in the comfort of home I imagine myself doing some Chuck Norris moves, but in the cold dark night I feel about 10cm tall and made of glass.
I admit I did what I’ve done before, I called my husband, did the whole, ‘I’m just calling for a chat’ but the only time I ever do that is when I’ve got a guilty conscience or I’m nervous so he twigged pretty quickly it was nerves because of the time of night.
I stopped at the servo on my way back and noticed a group of lads that looked pretty rowdy hanging about. I’m always very aware of my surroundings, I like to know who is around and quickly gauge their intentions, especially at night. There’s a sense of being prepared if things are going to get out of hand. It’s a good trait to have. But it’s also tiring because I’m always on the defence. Always looking for the danger, always got my adrenaline running. Always in survival mode. I can’t imagine being any different. So by the time I finish at the servo, I know how many cars, people and staff are around, I know my possible threats and my own path. I get home and as I drive up the driveway I’m assessing any unknown cars, movement around the area, neighbours houses, my own home. I already know what’s locked in my house and the sliding door that’s unlocked for the dog but I know my husband will lock it when we go to bed.
Some nights I go downstairs and check everything again. Some nights I’m too afraid and will ask my husband.
I will walk my dog late again of course as happens in winter. And the same things will occur even though I try to fight the fears.
This is what happens when you find out that monsters exist. This is survival.