Chapter 50 (E)

21.5K 956 338

As a child, my greatest fear in life had been much more realistic than any other average first grader's. I was not afraid of my mother taking away my video games because I knew that I would eventually get them back. I was not afraid of thunder because I had been raised to believe that tumultuous booming was caused by the strikes made by the angels in Heaven during a friendly game of bowling. I was not afraid of drowning because I could swim. I was not afraid of sitting alone at the peanut-allergy lunch table because I always had lots of friends on the playground. I was not afraid of playing by myself at the park because I was comfortable with being alone.

My greatest fear had nothing to do with such trivial matters. My fear, the big, looming shadow that haunted the outer corners of my mind and always woke me up crying during the middle of the night, was of being burned alive.

I couldn't quite explain why I had been afraid of something children shouldn't be worried about. Seven year olds shouldn't be scared of dying; seven year olds didn't believe in death. Seven year olds believed that they were indestructible, that if they leapt off the violently swinging park swing they would not only soar across the entire park, but would also zoom up into the sky, orbit around the sun and finish their journey by flying safely back around the world to their best friend's house. Seven year olds did not believe in death; seven year olds did not know of "the end," unless "the end" was the ending of their favorite fairytale.

So with that in mind, you could imagine how troubling it was to my mother when I'd come home from school one day and confided to her about how terrified I was of the apple cinnamon candle she kept lit on the kitchen counter.

She'd tried to explain to me that I didn't have to worry about something like that because she and my father would always keep me and Dylan safe, that the candle wasn't going to hurt anyone and that I was going to live until I was one hundred and eight years old, maybe longer. 

Still, none of that had stopped me from constantly blowing out all the scented candles dispersed throughout our house whenever she wasn't watching.

One time I had even blown out the candles in the cake for Dylan's eleventh birthday, to which he'd promptly responded by striking me in the face with a handful of sugary icing. That day had ended with me getting a bloody nose all over his birthday cake, him not talking to me for a month and a half, and my mother taking me to a child psychologist who was supposed to rid me of my fear of immolation.

I remember being written off as having some sort of bullshit anxiety disorder as well as having pyrophobia (as if I couldn't have figured that one out myself) and being fed different benzodiazepines for the next eight years of my life. They'd ended up working, but I'd never really gotten used to the sour taste of Klonopin and Serax on my tongue. Despite the therapy and pills, my qualms about dying via the fiery flames of a campfire, birthday candle, or a stray match had never really left me. They'd stuck with me all throughout childhood, and even as a teenager I didn't dare mess around with small fluid lighters or the burning embers lit within the cherry of a cigarette.

It was ten days before my seventeenth birthday when my greatest childhood fear had come true. An electrical fire had started in the laundry room during the middle of the night, and I'd woken up to the smell of smoke and my mother screaming for me to wake up. Our house had ended up completely burning down, and ever since then I frequently dreamt about the flames I'd grown up irrationally fearing the majority of my life, lapping fraughtly at the night sky, desperate for a taste of its favorite lover, the moon.

My fear of burning alive, of my skin searing off and my eyes melting within my own skull, had worsened tremendously after that fateful night. I'd have to distract myself from my obsessive compulsive fears of burning to death via anything that had to do with a spark by scratching my arms until they bled since my old pills had stopped working. My psychologist felt no choice other than to start prescribing me Xanax. I was a month into my new prescription when my family found a new house in Clydesdale Heights and decided to pack up whatever belongings we'd collected in our "temporary" tiny, shithole apartment and move.

Healing Gabriel (BoyxBoy)Where stories live. Discover now