Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On Monsters

I was walking back from lunch yesterday talking with my friend Don about the noise water heaters and furnaces make and I had a memory that made me laugh.

When I was young (probably around five or six, maybe younger) we lived on Jackson Boulevard in Rapid City in a small house - three bedrooms, one bath, and a full basement. To enter the basement you went down a rather steep, straight, wooden staircase. I was in the basement on some errand or the other and as I was leaving the basement I flipped the light switch off and started up the wooden stairs.

The water heater came on - with a thump…thump…thump-thump-thump-thump.

It sounded exactly like someTHING running up the stairs behind me! I screamed and dashed upwards hands and feet scrambling. Once at the top of the stairs of course, I realized what the cause was (perhaps my parents or one of my siblings explained it in fits of laughter). I laughed today with the memory - and I can still recall that moment of sheer terror as I fled up the stairs, pursued by the monsters of my imagination.

Now, all these years later, I laugh about it. But, stop and think about it. Of all the childhood incidents and accidents, that one sticks out strongly in my mind as me being truly, blindly, terrified. Through the years that have passed I have been scared, I have known moments of terror, but that one is extremely vivid. I am not sure if I was ever truly that afraid again in my life and I think about that and realize that it was a pure form of terror - the pure terror of the imagination, which can conjure far greater monsters than the real monsters of this life.

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