Story entry 19 - Burden of Fear
The shadows were deep and vast within the walls of Emmanuel Episcopal, but they were also inviting. Comforting. They were under pews, down halls, they clung to corners, and even covered stretches of plaster between the stained glass windows, but they were soft and calm and felt protective. An ancient and holy collection of private moments, secret prayers, answered hopes, and soothed grief that had form but no shape. They were present, but invisible - clustered together without taking up any space at all.
The shadows that Phena had been encountering lately were nothing like the ones she felt within the church. These other shadows were not comforting and were not a simple absence of light. They were dispiriting, cold, menacing, and aware. At times they even seemed to have form and substance, but when confronted with light or attention, they would retreat and dissolve. It all started a few months ago. Phena would be at home as the evening took hold of the day and would suddenly find herself alert. She felt like she was being watched, and the air felt to heavy to or too thick move very quickly - as if she was moving in molasses. If she were to look in the direction that she felt something was, all she would see was a dark corner, or the shade from beneath a table or bed. Once she located the source, the heaviness and the sensation of being watched would be gone.
At first Phena thought that it was her imagination, but then she began to feel like she was being followed. The same feeling would occur on the streets, but the sensation would not disappear so easily. She also began to hear sounds. Footsteps that would move when she moved and breathing that sounded like a large animal. Like a lion or bear, but possible bigger - all squished into the compact space of a shadow in the alley, next to a dumpster, or in her home under her furniture, or behind a door, or behind the shower curtain. It was terrifying. She would invite friends over for company, but she knew that when they left, and she was alone again, it would watch her again. Lights were always on in her home, but she would feel it and hear it and it would take her comfort and her happiness and her hope. It stole these things from her and the more it took, the more she became a person she did not recognize in the mirror. The fear etched lines into her brow and darkened her eyes and sunk in her cheeks. Phena was no longer a calm and happy person with a lightness to her step. This stalking horror had taken those things and replaced them with panic, fear, and quick and startled movements.
The sun was getting low and long shafts of light shone like beacons through the trees and between the buildings as Phena scurried home. Others busied themselves with their phones and their own business, but no one seemed to hear what she heard. It sounded like hooves that would move when she moved. Sometimes they would hurry, but mostly they walked a little off from her step. She would turn to look and there was no one. Did she see someone duck into a doorway? Was that a hulking shape that slipped between parked cars? The steps had never sounds so close before.
A sign on the steps of the steps of Emmanuel Episcopal read “Quite Moments Inside” and she thought this was literally a sign from God. It was still bright outside, and she hesitated at the thought of entering a place full of shadow, but crossing the threshold and stepping into the church, she felt something she had not felt for a long time. Relief.
It was quite. There was no breathing and no sound of hooves. The shadows were everywhere, but they were inviting and consoling. A slave to the fear and torment she had been through. The burden of her fear had been lifted and it felt like she could move easier and stand more erect. Phena knew that her role on the council might make her a target from monstrosities like the one that followed and watched her. She was a strong woman that did not crumble easily, but lately she felt that the pieces she was made of may just crumble against her will. That she may just wake and find herself a pile of frightened pieces. This reprieve gave her time to think. To pull her strengths together and create a force to be reckoned with.
Phena took in the vastness of the church and the beauty of the space. She walked slowly around and breathed with purpose. Long deep breaths. Her body felt tranquil.
The quite didn’t last when suddenly the stained glass window, that she was approaching in the back of the church, shattered and exposed an enormous furry-beast with blank-white eyes. These empty eyes found her and the beast snarled at her in anger. She screamed and stumbled back, but caught herself. The beast was hesitant. It seemed afraid to enter. She felt stronger at the thought that it was now afraid as well. She could smell it. A foul clinging odor that came from sewers, swamps, and rot. Phena stepped farther away and the creature took a chance and lunged into the church after her, but before it even landed on the ground it turned into a blast of flame and ash and was gone.
Someone came from the recesses of the church to see what the noise was about and she explained that someone must have thrown something through the window and it startled her. She left quickly and headed back home and it was the first time in weeks where her step was lighter and she was able to sleep with most of the lights off. Not all, but most of them.
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As of October 2016, I intended to use this blog as an accompaniment to my Facebook page and Instagram page. On this blog I post information and updates about my work as well as once a month I highlighted an artist whose work I like (I stopped doing this when I opened my gallery www.GalleryBlueDoor.com). As of March 2017, I began posting a monthly Story Entry with an accompanying illustration of mine. In mid-2019 I took a break from this, but it will resume.