Other Writing Index

A Short History of My Dread

I should admit that I have many mostly morbid, unfounded fears—for example, fear of avalanches and Legionnaire's Disease—as well as perfectly normal fears that are remarkable only in that I dwell upon them for inordinate amounts of time and with unhealthy zeal until they have stopped being normal and become morbid and unfounded. I have tried to trace the history of my dread, starting with fear of adults and culminating with fear of being shot in the head by a sniper. In between, I have documented fear of being knocked over at recess by a big girl named Heather, fear of getting into a fatal argument over the TV remote, fear of Drano.

Now, imagine, if you will, that it is late at night; maybe you've just come home from some jolly event, some dinner dance or cocktail party, and you're feeling happy and relaxed. You're getting ready for bed, grateful to be taking off your bra, when you hear a slight rustling behind you, so slight you might have made a mistake. It could have been the wind in the curtains. If you had curtains. Suddenly, as if unleashed from a cage, IT spirals frantically towards you. You scream "Oh, God!" and run from the room, hoping against hope IT does not follow you. Your husband springs into action. He knows what to do; he has been through this before. He must go into the bedroom, shut the door and kill the moth.

I am pathologically afraid of moths. I can't stand their insane flapping, their arbitrary, freaked-out flight patterns. Their fuzzy, dingy bodies and papery wings disgust me. They are like wads of used tissue on acid. How they get into our apartment on the thirty-third floor is a mystery that haunts me. But they do. And sometimes they prove so elusive that I will walk and sleep in terror for days after their initial sightings, further tortured by the knowledge that one day, maybe years from now, I will find them petrified on surfaces where it would seem that moths, given their utter incapacity for self-control, could not conceivably land. Book bindings, the edges of drawers, the sides of poster frames. In the folds of shower curtains, on the cuffs of sweaters. I will jump at their dead selves, still horrified by their powdery, innocuous existences, and I will wait for said husband to arrive home and remove them.