On 24

Living with Terror

By Jeanne Cavelos

When I was ten, my parents began leaving me home alone without a babysitter. They’d go to a dinner-dance, and I would sit on the floor of the faux-wood-paneled rec room in the cathode ray tube’s glow, watching The Six Million Dollar Man or The Brady Bunch. The curtains would be closed against the night, yet again and again my attention would drift there, searching past the TV’s flickering light on the fabric, certain that on the other side of the glass lurked a homicidal maniac.

As I spent more time alone, I developed a routine to help me cope with my fears. Horror movies had taught me a lot about facing homicidal maniacs. Make sure all the doors are locked; a carelessly half-shut door is an invitation to Michael Myers. Make sure that tiny gap between one curtain and the other is closed; Jason Voorhees loves peeking in those tiny cracks. If the howling wind and creaking walls are too threatening, get the poker. Having a weapon at the ready is always a good idea–though you have to make sure not to use it hastily and kill the policeman who has come to save you. No matter what you hear, never ever pull the curtain back to look, because that’s when the Wolfman will be pressing his hairy face right up to the glass.

Horror movies gave my vague fears specific form, but they also helped me overcome my fears. They showed me that I could face the chainsaws, the hatchets,  …

More from Jeanne Cavelos

Stay Updated

on our daily essay, giveaways, and other special deals

Our Books

Subscribe via RSS