Tuesday, 7 August 2012

United Friends Challenge #259 - The Monsters I have met

Jillermar's Challenge
Write a story about being scared as a child.
As an adult you can look back on it and chuckle at your childish foolishness.
I was under the bed with my face down, and eyes closed. Now I was safe from the uncle with the moustache. Well he was not really my uncle, but everyone was an uncle or aunt according to my mum when I was four years old.

“I’m sorry Frank” I could hear my mum’s words to my uncle that was not an uncle “she just has a thing about men with beards and moustache. I don’t know where she got it from.”

“That’s ok” I heard a very brave Uncle Frank say, “I understand”. I wonder if he did understand, seeing a four year old who suddenly disappeared under the bed screaming when he arrived. Aunt Dolly, his wife, was probably wondering what she had for a terrible husband.

I found beds were quite useful when I was a kid, but sometimes the bed was too far away to reach in time. A plane would fly over, living in London at the time, we had quite a few and the bed was out of reach, so I tried a chair and that worked as well. I had a lid over my head and was safe from the hum of the propellers as it flew over the house. I seemed to have had quite a sensitive hearing when I was a kid. Thunderstorms were also not so popular but then there was a mum with a comfortable lap that I could sit on and bury my head in.

One day I grew up and the thing with the bed was drifting into the past, although Dr. Hyman, the local practitioner also had a moustache. If I had to see the doctor I always hoped that his partner was there. He was a nice doctor, did not have a moustache, but my mum said you never knew what he was talking about, because he was a foreigner. I suppose with a name like Dr. Le Tang, he would be.

You would think that one day these phantoms would disappear. They did, my other half has a beard and moustache, and I just cannot imagine him without it. I don’t remember going into hiding when I first met him.

As the years passed, spiders replaced the childish fear of men with hair on their faces.

Our house in London was old, very old, bearing in mind that the gas fittings in my bedroom were still on the wall from the times when there was no electricity. It was a clear case of a building built in the later part of the nineteenth century. We had all the modern conveniences necessary, if somewhat primitive. We even had a toilet and that was the problem.

The toilet could have been placed under the state programme for preservation of sites of historic interest if there was such a programme. It was a small building attached to the house wall outside in the garden. Did I say garden, not really. A small square with an even smaller lawn in the middle, a coal bunker on one side (we heated with coal) and around the edges earth for our flower beds. I believe during the war, there were no flower beds, just shelters for hiding during the night when the bombs came. Perhaps the feeling of safety under the bed or chair came from something my mother gave me while I was comfortably swimming in her womb.

To return to the toilet; as you can imagine it was not exactly an inviting place to visit in Winter or in the evening. In Winter it was cold, and in the evening dark. This did not seem to bother the spider population that lived there. I think they were extremely happy to have such a sheltered habitat. They could spin their webs and just hang around waiting for a flying object to arrive. Actually they were the less dangerous spiders. They stayed in the corners and did not take a walk anywhere. There was another species living in this toilet. They had eight very long legs and a large round body in the middle, commonly known as daddy long legs. I do not know what their diet was, but sitting on that toilet and studying their actions was not exactly enjoyable.

Was I frightened of them, of course – what a stupid question.

In the evening when I had to visit the toilet. it was not fun, remember I was young, something like eight years old, perhaps younger.

“Mum I have to go to the toilet.”

“Then go, I know where you are.”

“Yes, mum, but can’t you come with me.”

“Come with you again, those spiders are not going to eat you.”

“But I don’t like them, mum. They are big and walk around and might touch me.”

So mum would accompany me to the outside toilet and wait outside until I was finished.

I think even in my teenage years I had visions of being pounced on by hundreds of spiders and being devoured by them when having a quiet five minutes in that toilet. I survived, but I am sure that I was ten years old when mum refused to go with me.

Today, I have my own garden. My spiders are very happy in the garden. They are photographed, they are examined and their species is carefully registered. I even have books about insects with full descriptions. I just cannot understand people, mainly women, who scream and run and ask for help if they see a spider. I just do not understand why spiders have to be squashed or knocked out, leading to a very nasty and painful death, if they happen to take a walk inside the house. The window is not far away and a piece of paper supplies a very good platform to move them to the safety of a crook or cranny somewhere in the garden.

Funny how life changes over the years: moustaches, beards and spiders are a thing of the past, and I don’t mind the occasional flight in a plane either.

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