Fear turns you inside out. Like an invisible, open hand, it reaches out towards you from the unknown. We all have fears, and most of us hide them as far away as possible. Our fears are so defining and embedded in our character and our past, that it isn’t until we know someone well that we even dare to approach the question. No one ever asks about fears as an icebreaker, or during small talk (but why the hell not?).
I closed my eyes and absorbed the darkness, letting everything around me come alive. I had roamed the streets for hours, taking it all in: the smell of melted mozzarella on the world’s finest pizzas; the ghostly decadence of the city’s oldest buildings; a loud melody, Chopin perhaps, can be heard through an open window; the dazzling chaos of roses, daffodils and poppies sitting on sills, stealing each other’s colours; and the repetitive navy-and-white striped men, proudly parading visitors down Venice’s shimmering canals. As I reached San Marco, Venice’s personal hotbed of human stench and anarchic clatter, the sweltering summer air was hard to take in. The waves of flickering cameras and the howling chatter of the crowd engulfed the piazza. Revolted, I wriggled away from the daunting humanness. I moved away from the crowds seeking silence. The chatter faded away, as did the Sun and the unbearable trail of heat it left behind.
The Sun beamed and I could feel the hard heat on the back of my neck. The grass shuffled, and we all stood there, quite still, quite petrified, before a beast we knew could tear our heads off in a matter of seconds. It isn’t easy to explain how, as I stood there knowing how deadly her fangs piercing on my skin would be, I felt no impulse to run as fast as I could. All I wanted was to stand there, looking at her for as long as I could, and take in the beauty of her mere existence. As I knelt before her, I felt alone. In my head, the others disappeared, and I felt her gaze upon me.