Even In the Friendliest of Faces

Today’s Bloganuary prompt is:

What fear have you conquered?

I drive around the parking lot several times. There’s a spot available not too far out, but it’s in the shadows, so I continue circling until someone under a street lamp leaves. I pull into the spot, gather my things, place my car keys between my fingers, with the pokey ends sticking out like daggers. I look around one last time, then open my door, shut it quickly, and click the lock button. 

One more look around and behind me. All clear. 

Walk briskly into the restaurant. Immediately take notice of my surroundings. 

  • What’s the layout? 
  • Where are the other exits?
  • What large items could I throw in front of someone to impede their progress in a chase?

The waitress escorts me to my table. I sit in whichever chair has the most expansive view, with as little behind me as possible. 

Again, scan the area. 

  • Closest exit? 
  • Good hiding places? 
  • Nearby objects that could be used as weapons? 

I also look for shady-looking characters but only because it comes with the territory. I know that evil lurks in the friendliest of faces, so everyone is suspect, really.

The process reverses itself when I leave, though it is quicker. 

  • I already know where the exits are and what the layout is. 
  • I’ve already determined objects that make useful weapons. 
  • And of course, keys between fingers? Check. 

So it’s the people I focus on while exiting. 

  • Is anyone watching me? 
  • Is anyone lingering a little too long in some place odd? 

I scan the parking lot. 

Make note of where each person is. As I pass by the line of cars, I pay special attention to the spaces between them, where someone could be crouched low, waiting to spring.

I reach the car but don’t rush in. 

The window tint makes it difficult to see inside, but I try anyway. Just in case. 

Then I push the button to unlock. I open the driver’s door and poke my head in far enough to see if anyone is hiding in the back seat. 

If not, I take one last look around, jump into the seat. 

  • Hurriedly close the door. 
  • Lock it. 
  • Start the car. No dilly-dallying around. Get that puppy running and ready to roll. 
  • Put it in reverse. 
  • Back out. 
  • Put it in drive. 


Arrive home. 

  • Repeat the parking and car-exiting process. 
  • Unlock the front door. 
  • Enter, closing the door behind me swiftly. 
  • Turn the deadbolt. 
  • Scan the area I can see from the front door. 

Walk across the living room to check the back door. Deadbolt still locked? 

Check every room. All clear?


This is not a scene from the novel I’m writing. This was my daily life for many years. I bet most of my family and friends never even realized it. I kept it quiet, both to avoid alerting any predators and to avoid looking like a scared, paranoid freak.

These actions were a direct result of the traumatic assault I survived when I was 19 years old. I also took some self-defense classes at the local sheriff’s office along the way. 

Side note: Those self-defense classes are pretty fun. You should take one sometime. Ever felt like kicking a guy in his -um- beans? Well, here’s your chance. Approved and sanctioned by the guy being kicked, even. (No worries, he protects his jelly beans first).

This is no longer the way I live. That entire routine has mostly disappeared. Don’t get me wrong. I still carry the essentials of that list within me. I stay aware. But the meticulous step-by-step procedure is much more fluid these days. 

The possibility of danger hasn’t gone away. Perhaps it’s even grown over the years. But my reaction to that possibility – my fear – that’s changed. 

What caused me to conquer that fear?

Two things.

  1. I got tired of letting fear run my life.
  2. I met Gail. 

The first reason is self-explanatory.

The second is one I can briefly add to. Ten years ago, Gail barrelled into my life. She was like a force of nature, but the good kind. Imagine mother nature dumping a semi-truck load of flowers on your head. That was Gail.

And something else landed on my head back then.

A sense of safety. 

Calm. Peace. Protection.

That’s how Gail makes me feel, even today. 

And so, my fear was conquered. Not all in one day, mind you. It was a gradual process, but it happened. 

And now I’m just your average, everyday, normal freak. Not the scared, paranoid one everyone used to know.

1 response to “Even In the Friendliest of Faces”

  1. Briana Avatar

    I can’t imagine what you went through, but it’s so amazing that you’ve been able to be less afraid. I don’t think people would blame you for being overly cautious.

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