I have always hated being scared. Whether it was in the form of a horror movie or a haunted house, it has never been my thing. Even hearing scary stories around a campfire gave my child-self the heebie-jeebies. However, for some reason, I could handle reading ghost stories--sometimes.
As a seven-year-old girl in the very early '90s, I was actually allowed to roam free in the neighborhood. My friend Abigail lived just up the street and after school, we would walk home to her house, slip under the cover of the big pine tree in her front yard, and sit in the relative darkness with a flashlight and a copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Or sometimes even More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. (How brave!) We'd take turns reading aloud, doing voices and scaring the heck out of one another. I can almost smell the pine and feel the breeze as it creepily swept through the branches just thinking about it.
Then my family moved, and I didn't have Abigail to read with anymore. Instead, I began to reach out to good old R.L. Stine for some light terror. To this day, I don't know why exactly I read so many of those books--I didn't actually like being afraid. I would have nightmares. I wouldn't be able to sleep without a light on. I would jump every time someone entered a room. (And still sometimes do. Just ask my colleagues what happens when they surprise me by showing up at my desk!) But for some reason, there were a couple years where I couldn't get enough. And I would read the Fear Street series, no less! The ones that felt more real--the ones that could, technically, actually happen. The Goosebumps books could never get me hooked. I think I read Dead End about ten times one year.
Now, in my late 20s, I am actually more afraid of scary things than I was as a child. I have only ever read one Stephen King book, for example, and that was his YA fantasy novel Eyes of the Dragon, which isn't, in fact, scary at all. I have never seen Psycho, or Scream, or even The Shining. I am terrified of being terrified. I can, however, read suspense novels and murder novels--again, I am somehow drawn to the more realistic creepy things. Edgar Allen Poe I could always handle too; I read The Tell-Tale Heart in seventh grade and adored it.
I wonder what happened, how and when that brand of bravery I had as a child escaped me. Part of me wants try to get that back, to pick up a book that is maybe a teeny bit scary and see what happens, maybe download some of those free Poe eBooks to get back into the swing of it....
But then someone walks up behind me and I fall out of my chair.