When I was little, I had what my parents would call an ‘overactive imagination’ or just an extremely vivid imagination.
It was the kind of imagination that made it hard to get to sleep for a period of time because I had recurring nightmares, often based on the TV series I watched or stories I read. My Mum told me that I had a psychologist for a little while, to help me and my parents develop strategies to manage my fears, though I can’t remember having had one.
One afternoon, I was bored and decided I wanted to write a stack of letters and post them up and down the street to the neighbours. Let me explain – I lived on a hill, with a mix of houses – most of them Victorian and Edwardian. At the time, I had come out of a spate of nightmares, yet still sensitive to any disturbing stimuli.
I’m not sure why I decided that was the day I wanted to do this – perhaps it was the holidays, or a school break, or a weekend. My parents encouraged my sister and I to be creative, and sometimes we spent time just drawing or finger painting in the garden.
But this was a random decision I made, to post letters through the doors of neighbours. It wasn’t as if the neighbours were particularly friendly – I didn’t live in a street that encouraged a lot of interaction with each other, and we only knew the neighbours well on each side of our house.
So, I left, letters in tow, my heart pattering each time I walked up a neighbours path to post my letters (let’s be honest, they were just drawings and maybe some odd words here and there), and ran back each time to the pavement.
The fourth or fifth door I approached had always scared me a little. Maybe subconsciously, it was something I wanted or needed to do to face the demons in my nightmares.
You see, I had these dreams that weirdly blended the monsters from the TV series and films I watched the most often – the BBC Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which had these terrifying wolf-people that the White Witch used as her minions, and from The Neverending Story, the wolfish servant of the Nothing, with its blood stained muzzle, which terrified me the most.
It was also the scene with Aslan’s death that upset me, as it should, probably, but there was something deeply unsettling about the depiction of it in the BBC version. I loved animals, I empathised deeply with them, and it was the sight of a beautiful creature being tortured that must have traumatised me in some way.
I was scared of wardrobes for the longest time, especially the one at our Granny’s bungalow, which was built in and deep, and smelled musty like old cupboards sometimes do.
On the door of this neighbour, there was a door knocker that was shaped like the face of a lion. Quite innocuous, really, and though I was fearful and my heart definitely racing, I made my way up to the door ready to post and bolt.
It was as I stepped closer to the door that a loud, horrible noise started up – a growling bark – and I screamed, running all the way back home.
Of course I didn’t post the letter and I’m sure the neighbour must have opened the door to find nobody there, but at the time I was absolutely petrified.
I did have nightmares for weeks, about door knockers morphing into growling, spitting faces. And I never posted letters down the street like that again, at least not without one of my parents!
I also realised I’ve posted about this before, after writing this! I wrote about nightmares here, in a post from 2012. In fact I realised I’ve mentioned this a few times on the blog – bound to happen when I’ve been writing here since 2007!
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