The fear of fear

Laudeep Singh

From her very childhood, Anastasia developed sciophobia, a word the meaning of which she initially understood only by symptoms like shortness of breath, sudden anxiety, and perspiration. Anastasia was only 5 years old when, for the first time, she consciously recognized her shadow in the playground. The black shadow which stirred as she moved haunted her conscience. The fear of shadows became her enemy for the rest of her life.

Anastasia sensed something ominous in her own shadow when she first time encountered it. As she grew up, the fear grew stronger that if she confronts her shadow again, something dreadful might happen. Her parents tried to hire preeminent psychiatrists, but they all failed to sway her against her senses. She started staying in the dormitory, making sure that no reflections of any sort are formed in her room. At times when needed, she would walk with her face towards the light so that the shadow falls behind her.

The second torment came when even gazing into the mirror for her became a nightmare. The fear culminated to the extent that she decided to kill herself. But what frightened her most was the fact that even if she kills herself, her shadow will loiter and cause harm to others. Her whole being became a silhouette of her existence.

Soon, she started envisioning everything around her in the form of shadows. At first, she began experimenting with her body. In only a month, causing pain to her body became a child’s play. She even tasted her own blood and felt it to possess a texture of something already dead. To check the facticity of her senses, she mixed her own blood in the milk and fed the cat. The cat refused to drink, which made her sure that the blood in her veins is putrid.

Before taking her own life, Anastasia plans to kill her parents in good faith so that they don’t have to suffer like her in the world of flesh and blood. One day, after having dinner, she tenaciously prepared coffee and contaminated it with an overdose of sleeping pills. After drinking the coffee with the parents, she insisted on sleeping in her parents’ room. None of them woke up the next morning.

The first ray of the sunlight perforated the curtain and dawned on their faces. It was in the afternoon that their bodies were recovered from the house and thereafter buried. Anastasia’s grave was laid in front of the respective graves of her parents.

Whenever by mistake some children stopover the grave, Anastasia, as her name suggests, “resurrects from her grave in the form of a shadow.” The shadow forces the children to gaze at her parents’ graves. Anastasia’s shadow whispers in the ears of little children to visit her next time along with their parents but only in the form of shadows. The shadow emerging from the grave of Anastasia has been shielding the graveyard ever since.

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