It is supposed that fears can be divided into two camps: rational and irrational. I don't hold with camping on principle, but I guess people need to find their own ways through the wood of life.

So here are my two fears. You may categorize them as you see fit.

1) It is the year 2020, and NASA has just received a massive reboot. With their funds they decide to launch a new and improved space station into orbit. By happenstance, I am one of the few people qualified to woman it. I am plucked from domestic bliss and shot into space like so many chimpanzees, dogs, and gerbils before me. Once at the station, we of course encounter severe external damage and I am naturally sent out to fix it.

So there I am, tethered to life by a thread-thin umbilical cord. The vastness of space wheeling by on one hand, the specificity of Earth on the other.

For a moment, I find it beautiful. For a moment, I see the miracle of it all.

Then wham! By the greatest of coincidences, almost miraculous some might say, a meteorite severs my lifeline and I am sent rocketing off into space.

Off I float, gently into that dark night. I float in silence on and on and on. Nothing and nothing and nothing until I run out of air.

But if that doesn't tickle your fancy, try this fear on for size.

2) I am born. I grow up. I do not become an astronaut. Instead I become a regular sort of human leading a regular sort of life.

At some point I go off to college and there meet many friends, one of whom I begin to see as a sister. She is one of those magic people graced with a beautiful mind and an incomparable and gentle soul.

Our senior year of college she is viciously raped. She tells me, without tears, that she was saving herself for marriage. She tells me, still without tears, that she just wants to see beauty in the world again.

I am dazed. I am confused. I walk around campus unable to recognize human faces. I decide to have sex with a violent and untrustworthy man. If I am raped, I believe it will let me control the situation. I wake up the next day with bruises on my body and an unshaken emptiness in my heart.

I continue to see this man. I tell him everything. Somehow in the sickness of it all I fall in love. It is not a healthy love, but there is something in it that feels real. I continue to amass bruises. I begin to amass scars.

Time passes. Love dies. We break up.

A year passes and I hear from a friend that this man I had been seeing raped two different women.

I am sent off into the void. Nothing and nothing and nothing.

Until, at last, I run out of air.

I do not know how to categorize these fears. The fear of the unknown universe. The fear of the known world. The devilish parallel that leaves me breathless. Tell me, if I am being irrational, why I can already feel the great pull of the void? And tell me, if you are being honest with yourself, whether you don't feel it too.

<<back to essays