de(tales): scary books
Alice and I met in the wide world of Twitter. Immediately, it seems, we became friends. There are few people I've been as honest with so quickly, and I'm so thankful for the ways our experiences line up. Alice always helps me to feel less alone. Plus, she teaches me wonderful British words like "naff." I'm so happy to be sharing her de(tale) with you today.
I had this friend when I was six. She told me that there were vampires watching me in the playground at school, that witches were in the trees and that ghosts would come through the cracks in the ground and catch me.
Yeah, she wasn’t a great friend.
I spent so much of my childhood feeling afraid. Afraid of ghosts and vampires and witches, afraid of bullies and the class bitches. I would stay home ‘sick' rather than face the fears of school and the complications of friendship and work that I hadn’t understood.
But I used to try to arm myself against the fear.
It was around the time of this no-good friend's torment that I had money to spend in the local bookshop. It was a magical place with a statue of the Fat Puffin outside. I can mark my years in that town from where I stood against that Puffin - this time he was taller than me. If I had hugged him my arms wouldn’t have reached all the way round.
I was allowed to choose any book I wanted. Oh, the deliciousness! I spent a long time looking and made my careful choice.
“Are you sure?” my Mum said; a little puzzled, I think.
I nodded and put the books on the counter. I handed over my money and took them home. I wrote my name in the front of them and began to study.
They scared me. They bloody terrified me. But I read them like medicine. They were good for me, they would protect me, they would make me better. My books would make me brave. They were my six-year-old version of a self-help book.
I still feel like that little girl - more than I’d like to admit. Fear is so often my companion on this journey.
Those books didn’t make the fear go away. They didn’t turn me into the girl I wished I was - able to laugh at the idea of being afraid and stepping through life with ease and confidence. But they helped. They helped me feel as though I could fight the fear in my own way.
Books have been faithful friends to me. When I’m afraid I still look to words to soothe me. Sometimes it's the first few chapters of the latest self-help tome, sometimes it’s whispers from God in his word, often it's the beautiful escapism of a great novel.
Now I’m a writer, I wonder whether I’ve finally found my weapon against the fear. I have my words and I’m not afraid to use them.
Alice Buckley is a writer, reader and tea-drinker living in Lancashire, England. She has recently released her first book, Play through the Bible, and is currently working on her first Young Adult novel. She tweets about all sorts of uncool stuff at @alicecrumbs.