Published by Open Love Letters


To fears, old and new,

I got stuck in the dark today. I went to the bathroom and, although it wasn't that late, I'd momentarily forgotten the intensity of the pitch-black in this country when it's dark. You're plunged through it, your existence negligible, as if you've been swallowed in your entirety by a creature of the deep. How could anyone exist as a whole in a pitch-dark this interminable, this taxing? You think of how back home, you are never truly in the dark. Street lights seem to find a way to weave their way through the edges of your blinds in fleeting, geometric patterns.

I fumble for the switch on the lamp's automatic timer, groping the wall in an ungainly and panicked gesture. I can hear as the crickets harmonise their laughter; their mocking soundtrack to my waking nightmare. I know roughly the direction of my room, but I'm still not used to which bits of furniture may accidentally collide with my limbs in the tenebrous flood of the kitchen. If only you could see yourself, I think, a person in their mid-twenties - petrified of the dark! I move as quickly as my searching limbs will allow, shuddering as I feel the cold metal of the skink glance off my forearm. I at least appear to be moving in the right direction.

I think of how the dog would be a welcome presence right at this moment. He'd probably lick my calf unthinkingly, without realising the near-aneurysm he'd cause me. But, I'm alone, and I'm still swallowed, whole. I'm Jonah in the whale's stomach, but without the faith or conviction. I sense a patch of vibrating air in front of me and the panic rises in my throat as unnatural, venomous imaginings swell and flood every synapse in my brain. As my fingers reach out reflexively, I realise it's the fridge. With relief, I remind myself that monsters are not phantasmic apparitions, they're the things I know best, only transformed by darkness and my own spiralling thoughts. As I close the door of the fridge, the green beans cast me a furtive glance, unamused at my stupidity.

I abruptly feel surrounded by unfamiliar things. Things that have the power to haunt me, even though they are objects I know readily, just arranged in different positions. The garden, the fridge, a chair I like to read on - they become the architect of my nightmares in later hours. I have to remind myself of how lucky I am to be here, where I could walk for miles on a beach and see no one. But I can't stir the growing sensation of worry, that I should be home, looking after mine. I want to go home, I just don't know the route in the dark."