Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Scared Silly

I've been doing a lot of reading in preparation for my July grad school residency.  One of the seminars is using crime fiction to look at... uh... something... (see how invested I am in this?), so I got a bunch of crime novels that are on the reading list and settled down to read last night.  Now, I don't usually read crime or horror fiction because my imagination is just too darn good, and I scare the pants off myself every single time I think it's a good idea to read them. 
The one I chose to start with was Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island. Cleverly, I decided to start reading it after I put my daughter to bed, when the house is silent and dark.  
So I'm sitting on the couch, completely absorbed in this really well-written book (this is definitely not the pulp type).  And it gets darker, and darker.  And I realize I'm hearing strange sounds (what was that crack?  sounded like a popping knuckle), so I get up to look, and see that the front door is open.  Did I leave that open?  I start to get paranoid.  Someone could have come in when I was in the basement dealing with the laundry, and I'd never know.  Then I get ahold of myself for a minute, and (sensibly) decide that I'm getting paranoid, and what I need to do is go to bed.
I timidly check all the closets, lock the doors, close the windows, and scurry to my room through the darkened apartment.  Stupidly, I bring the book with me.  I'm not sleepy because my heart is pounding so hard, so I decide to read a little more until I feel ready to fall asleep.
Three hours later, my eyes bloodshot and my hands tense on the book, I have to shut it, because I suspect the narrator is about to describe the murder of his children, and I don't want to read it.  I want to go get a drink of water but I'd have to walk into the dark kitchen, and I'm terrified, and that bulging bladder will just have to wait until the morning.  And what was that noise?  I check my closet again and close the bedroom door firmly, feeling guilty that I am giving myself this protection that I'm not offering my daughter.  Should I wake her up and bring her into bed with me?  But that would also require a trip into darkened rooms, and I'm all quivery inside.  And was that a creak on the floorboard outside my room? 
Eventually I fell asleep in my favorite childhood pose for protection from nighttime beasties: lights on, blanket wrapped firmly around my head with a passage for fresh air in the the vicinity of my nose (but not exposing any skin, goodness no, they see skin as a vulnerability).  I woke up exhausted, with a crick in my neck from all that tension. 
And I'm wicked anxious to finish the book tonight, so I can finally find out what happens.  Congratulations, Mr. Lehane; mission accomplished.


Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Welcome to the dark side.

There are some great books on that seminar's list. David is my mentor this semester, and he really knows his crime fiction.

Jen said...

Finished it, started on *Little Scarlet*. This seminar is going to ruin my health.


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