dark room

Writing Exercise: Darkness

“You, a grown adult, are afraid of the dark. Explain why this is a legitimate concern, so friends won’t laugh at you.”

All right, so this is the reason I’m scared of the dark. Now obviously I don’t tell anybody about this, because I’m a grown-ass man. I should know better, right? But you all have your childish fears too. Some of you are afraid of showers or tunnels. If you think about it, there’s no reason to be scared of spiders. There are three thousand species of spiders in North America and only two are poisonous. Two! Only four people die from spider bites per year. When you take that into account, getting out from behind a mack truck makes sense.

But darkness. We’ve been fighting against it since the caveman days. And even while we’ve mostly conquered it with fire and electricity and wind-up flashlights, it’s still there. It’s always there, in a corner, in a closet, under the bed, through a window. And the thing is you never know what’s in there. You don’t, you just don’t. It could be a millipede or a duck or a railroad spike or some coat hangers. But my point is no one ever knows what’s hiding in the darkness.

Well, I do.

See, the darkness is angry. Angry that we’ve taken away it’s power, that we can remove it any time you want. It’s not just staying there, it’s creeping back in. It wants to consume you.

Case in point. Okay, you know how when you go to bed, you shut off the lights. And it seems like it’s pitch black. That’s because your eyes haven’t adjusted — they haven’t dilated to let in more light. But after a few minutes, they do and the light from the window or the smoke detector or your alarm clock. Now you can see all the dimensions of the room where once it was all black.

But here’s what I’ve noticed. It doesn’t do that anymore. It’s taking longer and longer for the light to come back. I’ve timed it. Yeah, it could be my eyes. I’m going to get them checked. But that’s not it. And I know because there are corners of my room where it’s all black. And it stays all black through the night. And those spaces are getting larger each time. There used to be an outlet near one of the corners where my dresser is. One night, the darkness was so big it covered it up. Next day, there was no outlet. It looked like there never had been one. Not even when I busted open the wall.

It’s going to come for you if you’re not watching it. That’s what it wants. To be noticed. Which is funny because you can’t see in the darkness. That’s why I make sure I sleep with the lights on. I never go anywhere where I think it might get pitch black. That’s not many places. But if it happens, it could be me next.

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness? Light a whole fucking barrel of them.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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