Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Why Did I Keep Reading That Book?

I had an over-sized illustrated book of the Tales of Washington Irving. It scared me.

If you Google that phrase, the first reference is to Kreepy Kids Corner. It's comforting to know that I am not alone.

I was in elementary school, old enough to read chapter books, old enough to feel terror. And it was terror that I felt, every night, as I lay on my bed, reading The Headless Horseman.

With my head to the foot of my bed, reading by the light from the hallway, I can still conjure the image of the black horse and the voluminous black cape and the head in the hand of the rider, galloping, black tree trunks and a purple and orange sunset feeling all together too real.

I knew G'ma and Daddooooo were there, outside my half open door. I knew it was only a story. I knew I was safe. I was still really really scared.

And, I kept reading that book.

Most people think of the story of Rip Van Winkle's long long nap with a smile. I know it for the horrifying tale it is Take my word for it. I have nothing specific to point to, just an overwhelming sense of dread every time I think about him.

There were other stories, I'm sure; it was a thick book. But this is where my memory ends.

Did I like being scared? I read Stephen King until Christine made me look askance at Annabelle, my first car. That's the last time I consciously picked up a scary book.

I won't watch Twilight Zone, even though I am assured that it's weird, not scary. I fervently disagree. I've seen a few; I remember them all. The Third Eye Guy, the Guy Outside The Plane, but mostly Burgess Meredith's broken glasses as he sits on the steps of the library, the last man on earth, typing it brings me to a very dark place.

I don't know why I kept reading and re-reading that book.

I've never said this "out loud" before, though I've thought about lying on my bed, and the book, and the scariness of the stories and the pictures on and off for my whole life.


  1. I don't do scary books even today. My dreams are way to vivid to let in anything like that. No horror movies either-- and I still get a scary dream once in a while

    1. I don't even do the commercials for scary movies.


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