The Girl Who Lived With Fear

by Janine Gobeil

There once was a girl who was always afraid. Her parents were alcoholics, and they fought a lot. She was frightened of danger and violence and of being hurt. And she felt like she was dying inside.

So one day she decided to leave home and find some place safe to live, a place where there were solid lines of defence, a place where she would be protected.

She walked and walked, asking for directions and help, and for a long time no one was willing or able to help her. Then finally one day she met someone who said he was willing to help her build a place of safety. He called himself “Captain Fear.”

He explained to her that what she needed was a foxhole, a place where they could hide together. From such a hole, she would be able to keep a watch on anything that was coming at her and at the first sign of danger or chaos, she could go down into it and hide.

So they looked for and found a spot and dug a hole. Then he told her that they needed various lines of defence. When he explained what they were, the girl was totally sold on the idea, and she was ready to put her heart and soul into the job.

Captain Fear told her he would explain what was needed and how to go about it, but she would do the actual work. He was there, he told her, mostly to support and encourage her.

Her first line of defence was landmines. She knew that kind of sudden violence well. Now if anyone tried to come near her to hurt her, a landmine would go off and that person would get hurt instead.

The next thing she put together were rolls of razor wire. She thought to herself, “Just wait until someone says something mean to me or picks on me. I’ll tear that person to shreds with my words.”

The girl didn’t care if someone bled to death as long as they left her alone. She figured she’d be using the razor wire often.

The next thing she built was a formidable brick wall. She put that together brick by brick. The bricks were made from rejection, oppression and sadness. For mortar she used her tears. Tears came easily to her as she built her defences.

Captain Fear was always there encouraging her and motivating her to protect herself at all costs, so she worked really hard.

He told her that many people build walls of one kind or another using their own building materials, and that she should make her defences really strong.

The last line of defence was a moat. She had all kinds of things to throw in it—shame, guilt, humiliation, sad memories. All these went into the water.

This would make people wary of coming too close because these things could catch hold of them and drag them down.

When her defences were finished, she didn’t venture out, and people couldn’t come close either.

There she was, ensconced in the foxhole with Captain Fear. And as they shared ration bars, he would encourage her, saying in a whisper, “You don’t want to go out there. It isn’t safe and there is nothing and no one out there for you. So be a good girl and stay behind the barricades with me.”

They lived that way for a time, but after a while, the girl discovered that the ration bars they were eating were not very nourishing. She felt she was starving. But she trusted Captain Fear, and he kept convincing her that she was safe where she was, and he never left her side.

More time went on. Now, besides feeling like she was starving, she grew more and more weary of living in the foxhole.

Then one day when Captain Fear’s head was turned, she poked her head up to see what she could see.

She looked past all her defences to see what lay beyond. She saw something lush and green and colorful. It looked inviting but it was too far away for her to see it well.

Still, it attracted her, and whenever Captain Fear was sleeping, she would poke her head out to see what she was missing.

One day, while she was doing this, the girl saw someone off in the distance. He was waving at her. She ducked back down and looked at Captain Fear, but he was asleep and so he hadn’t noticed anything.

She kept peeking out and the person kept waving. Soon she realized that the person wanted her to come out.

He can’t mean it, she thought. I can’t do it. There are too many barricades to go through and Fear would never let me go. Besides she was used to each other by then. So she stayed in the foxhole.

But finally the day came when the girl was just sick and tired of the foxhole, and she wanted out. She poked her head up to see if the person was still there. And he was!

This time he wasn’t waving; he was beckoning her to come out.

She shook her head no. She couldn’t come out, she thought. There was too much she would have to go through to get to where he was.

He asked her, “Do you want to come out?”

She nodded her head, yes; she wanted out.

“Then I’ll come and get you.”

The next thing she knew, the man was walking across the field of land mines, and to her astonishment, none of them went off.

Why not, she wondered. She had thought they were very dangerous.

Then when he got to the razor wire, it just seemed to unroll itself. He just passed through it.

When he approached the brick wall, he went around it. The girl was a little put out at that. After all, a lot of work had gone into building that wall.

The last barrier was the moat. This would be more of a challenge, she thought. There is no bridge and he has no boat.

He came up to the moat, took something from his side, and poured its contents into the dark murky water. The water became clear and clean, and he just walked on top of it.

Needless to say, the girl was quite impressed by all this.

Then, entering the foxhole, the man took Captain Fear by the scruff of the neck and cast him out.

Then he turned to the girl. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s get out of here.” Grabbing his hand, the girl scrambled out.

Together they walked on the water across the moat.

When they got to the brick wall, the girl started to skirt around it, but the man stopped her and said, “Why don’t we just take it down? You don’t need it anymore.” They spent a long time taking down the wall, longer than she wanted to. She just wanted to get out of there. But he was in charge.

The razor wire posed no problem. It was still unrolled and was easy to step over.

Lastly, the girl began gingerly to pick her way around the landmines, but the man said to her that she didn’t need to be so careful. They had lost their power years ago.

When they had passed all the boundaries, the girl was astounded and very happy. Then she wondered where she could go to live.

She looked at her new friend. He smiled at her and said, “You’re coming to live with me now. You will have a new home.”

“Who are you?” the girl asked. “What is your name?”

He looked at her, smiled, and said, “Love. My name is Love.”