Monday, May 12, 2008

Fear, Size, Imagination

What a delight to see green grass, green leaves, green spring in Colorado! It won't last. This is by nature a dry place, though I am fortunate to have a duck pond in my front yard, a little wild spot draws plenty of birds, squirrels, and rabbits. And one night it drew some creature that I could not detect, but that scared my little dog silly. He would not go out without me, and then he hovered by my feet. Back in the house he hid in the bathroom, under the dining room table, in his bed way before time to retire. I put him in my lap and counted his breaths--way too fast. He seemed not to be in pain, so I think he was having a severe anxiety attack. The vet agreed when I described the incident on our next visit.

This small terrier thinks he's the size of a Newfie! Usually nothing scares him, but whatever was there on the verge of our suburban yard that night shrunk his courage to the size of a pea. I can only imagine what critter lurked out there. My guess is a coyote, looking for a small pet to snack on. Reality hit Duncan Dog like a freight train: "I'm a little dog in a big world, and something out there wants to eat me." I've felt like that a time or two, but usually I am happily insensitive to danger. I know it's there, but I don't feel it. Certain stories, though, can make me aware of reality, even when they deal with imagined evil. That's one function of literature, to educate our senses to the dangers of life. All hail the Steven Kings, the Harlan Ellisons, and the Melanie Tems of this world. Take a good look at Melanie's book, co-written with her husband Steve, The Man on the Ceiling. I love this book, even when it scares me. (Disclosure: Melanie leads my fiction-writing group, but I would love this book even if I had never met her.) Happy reading!

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