It takes a lot to admit to this. This one basic fact that can sometimes change the decisions I make, the way I go about my day. I'm scared of the dark. I always have been. As a kid, I had a night light for a while, but it didn't really help. I remember running up from the bathroom in the middle of the night, not feeling safe until I was under my covers. I guess everyone has a fear, however small.
My sister would make fun of me if she knew I still let it govern my life. About a year and a half ago, the youth group I am part of decided to do an electricity-free weekend. Food sponsors to be given to the homeless. But it was coming up for prelims, and I was stressed about other things too. My friend tried to get us all to sleep over at hers when I blurted out that I couldn't do it. "Why? What could you possibly not live without for one weekend?" Oh god, she thought I was being vain and thinking of my phone or internet or music. "Light." I don't know whether I did the right thing there. Is it right to confront your fears? Or should you just embrace them and carry on?
In our house, it's a little easier because at night the kitchen light is left on. This at least means I won't freak out if I need to go to the toilet in the middle of the night. It also brings me to possibly the most embarrassing story I will tell the internet.
One year, before I'd started high school, somewhen between me discovering Green Day and me getting an mp3 player. We were on holiday on a little island off the coast off Scotland. For the second week of the holiday we were staying in a big house, right next the beach (although you can't get that far from a beach there), in the middle of fucking nowhere. No lights were on at night. To go to the toilet in the middle of the night was pretty freaking daunting. One night I did. The room I was in was pitch black, all I could make out were vague traces of windows and doors. It was hard enough to find the door handle, never mind the stairs. And the toilet. After that one terrifying trip, feeling my way through the darkness as my heart beat in my mouth, there was no way I would do the same again.
But another night I woke up needing. Oh, you can see where this story is going. Of course it'll be fine, I don't need that much, I'll go in the morning. What a lie. If only I had had the intelligence then, or the bravery, to just put the landing light on so I could see my way down. My parents were furious. Especially as I didn't tell them. And it was a rented house. I slept the rest of the time in a sleeping bag.
Most recently, I cycled with my mum and little brother from Edinburgh to Falkirk. (It's way too long, and muddy, don't try it.) Just before Falkirk there is a ridiculously long tunnel. Sure, there were light on the ceiling. Sometimes. But it was still dark. If I hadn't been so creeped out by it all, the walls would have been a thing of beauty. Did I mention you were supposed dismount for this tunnel? It went for fucking ever. Me just staring ahead at that spot of light in the distance, hoping it would come closer.