People loved the sea and they loved coming to see it but most of them didn’t stay so only a few knew what it was like to live on the coastline during winter. And it wasn’t all just ‘look at how the sea is raging and how flooded the harbour is!’
It was a dangerous time of year and I having spent my whole life in a Cornwall fishing town knew it well. We had been flooded, power failures, cliffs had fallen to the sea, people had drowned in riptides or huge waves, boats had been dashed like rotten wood on rocks and the harbour warning bells were always ringing.
From my attic bedroom as I lay in my bed trying to sleep, I didn’t need to look out of the wind to see that a storm was beginning. I could hear the wind like the blades of a helicopter whipping everything it could pull up into a tornado. What sounded like a tree branch bumped along the roof then was gone.
The rain hammered on the slates like men breaking stones in the quarry a few miles away. The windows rattled, dripping and water stained. There was a knocking as hailstones joined in, the ice chips bouncing away as they hit.
The sea was making the most noise as if in competition with everything else. All that separated my house from the sea was a road and a wall. I could clearly hear the waves bashing the flood defences and trying to climb the wall.
Wondering if we would be flooded, I rolled over and tried to sleep again. It wasn’t the storm keeping me awake, I was use to the weather. It wasn’t the night light casting multi-coloured stars on to the ceiling and wall, that was meant to help. No, it was my phobia of the dark.
Nyctophobia, it was called. I was on a never ending cycle of things to try and help me or cure me. It came and went, some months were easier, sometimes of the week were better then other but winter was the hardest to get through. It was dark for most of the day and my mind was never at rest from the fear of what might be waiting in that darkness.
Giving up sleeping, I turned the light and read my book. It was strange but I loved horror stories and true horror things. I liked reading about the supernatural, ghosts were one of my favourite subjects – fact or fiction. Tonight, though I was reading about true witches starting from the earliest historical records to now-ish.
Of course, I realise how ironic this is because loving horror and being afraid of the dark don’t go together! Some people said that reading and watching horror themed things was the cause of my problems but there was more to it then that. It wasn’t that I believed the things in the horror books and films could be waiting in the darkness to grab me, it was more that in the dark you didn’t know what was truly there.
The dark made you think something was something else, objects had hidden depths, people looked different and sounds were also changed. I knew there were no real monsters out there, just humans who became like them. Perhaps, there were ghosts but I believed they weren’t like the fiction stories said.
I read and read, sometimes dozing off then reading back a paragraph until it grew light outside.
Free at last, I wrapped up warm and went outside, despite the storm. Everything lashed around me; the wind, the rain, the sea, it was like a surge of nature at war with just me.
I went to the wall and looked down. The sea was high, over the rock breakers and every wave was splashing over the wall top. It wouldn’t be long till sea water was pooling across the road.
Salt stung my eyes and water coated me. The wind buffeted me and I couldn’t stay long. I walked along stopping when a wave came over, not that getting wet by it would make me any drier!
My head cleared, my fears left and I felt easier. Not much was open in town partly due to it being Sunday, not tourist season and the storm. I passed a few cafes, an arcade and bingo hall, shops who’s shutters rattled like teeth. I went to the harbour and watched the boats riding the sea like a roller coaster.