You know when I said nothing interesting happens around here? I forgot to mention the attempted murder.
Yep, attempted murder. A student woke up Saturday morning to find a man standing over her with a butcher knife.* Her roommates, the observant people that they are, assumed that the screams heard coming from the girl's room were a result of a horror movie. The man, an employee with the university food service, was arrested and later confessed to the murder of man in West Chester a few days earlier.
This, coupled with the strange stories of random people ending up in random rooms on campus, does little to make me feel safe. In fact, it brings back some disturbing memories.
My father was a police officer for a good portion of my life. Early on, I was aware that his job put him at great physical risk. I also knew that, because of his job, our family was listed under my mother's maiden name in the phone booth. With the implacable logic of childhood, I figured the reason for this subterfuge was that I, personally, was in danger.
I don't know when it first started, but at some point, I began taking precautions against the ax murderers that had it in for me. I always slept on my side, figuring that such a position presented a smaller target. My stuffed animals were carefully arranged on my bed in hopes that their lumpiness would distract an inept psychopath in the dark. Finally, I never, ever slept with my back to the door. If I was going to be chopped into little bits, by G-d, I was going to see it coming.
Sometimes, however, all the precautions in the world couldn't allay my fears. At that point, I would gather up my blankets and shuffle into my parents' room. Did I feel safer in the presence of my mother and father? Sure, but the instinct to prevent my own death by hacking was still quite strong. I would set up camp on my father's side of the bed, secure in the knowledge that I was close to the family protector and as far from the door as possible. If a serial killer were to tramp up the stairs, I would be the last person in his path. He would have to contend with the rest of my family first. And while the carnage was taking place, I could simply roll under my parents' bed (Yes, I fit-- one of the first things I checked).
Based on my memories, I can conclude that most of my fears didn't focus on malevolent, but imaginary, monsters (although there was that vampire skeleton on the other side of my bed, but that's another story entirely). My monsters were quite real. I'm happy to say that I have grown out of this fear, but the vestiges still remain. I only recently began sleeping on my stomach and facing away from the door. Also, the first thing I'm going to do upon moving into my own place is get a very large dog, preferably a drop-out from the K-9 program. Better safe than sorry.
I recently wondered aloud to my brother about whether other people had such strong and realistic fears in their childhoods. To my surprise, he shrugged.
"I used to think that the SWAT team was hiding in my closet."
"SWAT team? In your closet?"
"Why do you think I put all my weights in front of my closet door?"
Ewww, even writing this little entry is giving me the willies. Looks like before I sleep, I'll be locking the door several times and peering out of my window to the two-story drop below to make sure no one is out there. Just in case.
Better safe than sorry.
*She received only minor stab wounds, in case you were wondering.