Phobia by Karen L. Egee

He dreaded Halloween all year, asking even in the winters of deep snow, while other children were reveling in no school days, making snow forts, rigging up turkey platters as sleds, asking even in summers, at the beach, while other children dared themselves in and out of the freezing water, tugged on each other’s shovels and tossed sand at each other until they were told in no uncertain terms to stop, through all these natural childhood occupations, proclivities, pleasures, he was asking if Halloween might be coming up soon, if it was more than a few days away, if it might be tomorrow, even though he could read the calendar, his fear overrode his logic. Halloween was the day he circled in the Knock’s Hardware store calendar that came in the mail, right away each December, circled it then scribbled it out, the whole rectangle hatched over, then the 3 and the 1, in fat solid black crayon. It’s not that he was scared of ghosts or goblins or skeletons, he knew they were silly and pretend and he even had his own plastic skeleton with a melted on suit coat partly covering it. What he was scared of, terrified of, dreamed of, waking in a sweat, screaming like a baby they told him, for his mother, what he couldn’t even bear to think of, were the masks, the flimsy buy-them-at-Walgreen’s plastic ones as much as the elaborate very real looking ones—any face covering that made the person not who they actually were. His father and sister used to tease him making make-shift masks with their scarves or with his father’s necktie, figuring out just how much and what parts of their face to cover to make it work, until one day he actually fainted with fear and his mother put her foot down and said no more, it was serious and they stopped.

Karen L. Egee has had one poem published in the journal The Oncologist although there was likely no competition. She has co-authored three books in her field of child psychology, but is pretty newly on this life affirming, can’t-live-without-it, can’t-learn-fast-enough creative writing journey.