Tuesday, 6 March 2012


Once upon a time there was a Woman who lived with Fear. She hadn't planned to live with him, you understand. It just happened that Fear had moved into her house when she was a very little girl, and had lived there ever since. She got used to having him around, even though he was fearsome to behold. He was very big and very strong, and had long fangs with a poison in them that made her heart stop and her muscles grow weak every time he bit her. But, as long as she didn't do anything Fear didn't want her to do, he didn't bite her very often.

One day, the woman decided that she wanted to do something new, all by herself... even though she didn't know if she could do it. Fear was adamantly against the idea, and warned her that if she tried, he would bite her harder than he had ever bitten her before. But the woman's mind was made up, and she said she was going to try anyway. So, Fear bit her, just as he'd said he would. She felt her heart stop, and her muscles grow weak, but she kept struggling to try the new thing. So Fear grabbed her and threw her to the ground and sat on her chest. She struggled against his weight, but he was too strong and big for her. She struggled all day, and when night came she gave up and fell into an exhausted sleep.

The next day, she started once again to try a new thing, and like the day before, Fear grabbed her... but before he could throw her down, she tripped him and *he* fell on the ground. Enraged, he leapt up and they started to fight in earnest. They fought and fought, Fear trying to bite her, and she trying to pin him down so he couldn't bite. But, Fear was a wily fighter, and of course, eventually, he managed to bite her. So, once again, her heart stopped and her muscles grew weak and she stopped fighting, and fell into an exhausted sleep.

The battle started all over the next day, and the next, and the next. It went on for many, many days. Each day she lost the fight, but each day her muscles grew stronger and she learned more and more about Fear's wiles and tricks and weak points. Her body, too, learned the ways of Fear's poison, and began to make medicines to fight it - to make her heart beat even stronger and faster, her muscles even more powerful. Eventually, even when Fear bit her again and again, she did not fall down, and could keep fighting him.

One fine day, when the sky was very blue and the air was very crisp, and they had fought nearly all day, the Woman finally pinned Fear to the ground and put her foot on his back. She leaned over and said very softly, but very firmly, "I have beaten you. Now go away." And Fear vanished! She was so startled that she lost her balance and fell over. But she got right up again, and spent the rest of the day doing new things and humming a song and just generally enjoying an evening without Fear in her house. As she went to sleep she thought of all the things she would do tomorrow, without having to spend any of her time to fight Fear. She was so excited, she could hardly sleep!

When she woke her first thought was that she had beaten Fear yesterday, and she smiled and got out of bed. But, there, sitting in the corner of her house, was Fear, as big and strong and ugly as ever.

"What are you doing here?" she shouted. "I beat you!"

"Ah, but that was yesterday," Fear replied with a grin. "If you want me to go away today, you have to beat me today."

And with that, he stood up and reached for her, and they began to fight again. But as she fought, it seemed to the Woman that Fear was a little smaller today than he had been yesterday. Yes, she was sure of it. Yesterday he had towered over her; today he was only as tall as she was. After only half a day of fighting, the Woman again pinned Fear to the ground, and said, "I have beaten you. Now go away." And again, Fear vanished. But the Woman was prepared for it this time, and didn't even stumble as Fear disappeared. And she spent the rest of the day doing new things, and fell into a contented sleep that night.

The next day Fear, sitting in his corner chair, simply grinned at her when she walked by. When he stood up to fight her, she noticed that Fear only came to her chin, and she grinned back. She beat him before the sun was halfway up the sky, and enjoyed the rest of the day.

The next day, Fear only came up to her waist. She picked up a basket and said, "I'm going to pick berries on the hill, whether you like it or not." When he came for her, she simply pushed him down, and went out to the hill to pick berries. But a very large, very hungry bear had planned on having lunch at that very berry patch on that very day and became very angry when he saw the woman there, stealing his lunch. He growled and began to chase her. The woman ran, but she knew she couldn't outrun the bear, and she was sure she would die.

But, luckily, the Woman hadn't really beaten Fear that day and she hadn't told him to go away, which is the most important part of the fight, when you fight Fear. So Fear came up behind her and bit her. Her body released its Fear-poison fighting medicine, her heart beat faster and her muscles grew stronger. Then Fear grabbed her hand, and pulled her along faster than she had ever run before - and she even managed to hold on to the basket of berries. The bear chased her a while, then decided that it was too much trouble, and he was still so very hungry, and there were plenty of berries left. So he went back to the hill to have lunch.

When the Woman and Fear got back to her house, she turned to Fear to thank him for his help. But Fear was very angry with her, and would not listen to her thanks. (In truth, he really did not want to see the Woman hurt, even though he fought her every day.) "What were you thinking! If you had listened to me, you wouldn't have been up on the hill with that bear."

"But I wouldn't have these nice ripe berries either." She retorted. Angry at her response, Fear began to fight with her again. The woman, tired from all the running, let him win quickly and went to sleep that night with her belly full of berry pie, and a contented smile on her face.

The next day, Fear came all the way up to her chin again. When the woman asked him why, he shrugged and said, "When you let me win, I gained strength." So, once again they fought, and the sun was high in the sky before she defeated Fear and told him to go away. The woman decided that she would fight Fear every day until he shrank to nothing and was gone forever.

But, then she remembered how he had helped her with the bear. So, she found a tough, old hide and made a small pouch the size of her hand. She threaded it with a leather thong, and tied it around her waist. When Fear was small enough to fit in the pouch, she would stop fighting him, she decided. Or, to be precise, she would only fight him just enough to keep him small. Then she would carry Fear in the pouch by her side, so that he would always be with her when she needed him. For, as I told you at the very beginning of this tale, the Woman had become accustomed to living with Fear.

No comments: