People I don't know; People I know too well; Too many people in one place;
Religion, to a certain degree; Getting caught up in a cult;
Too much sun; Cancer of any kind; Toxic shock syndrome and, therefore, tampons;
The feeling of being afraid; Being at a social event where I don't know anybody; Public speaking, though I do it anyway;
Letting down my cats; Rodents, especially those that are small enough to run up a pant leg;
Being poked in that divet area on the front of my neck; Getting a thyroid condition that makes it so that a doctor will have to poke their finger in that divet area on the front of my neck to feel for the thyroid;
Too much alcohol and the effects thereof; All of the illicit drugs except maybe marijuana; Unregulated marijuana, mostly only when one is in their late teens, early twenties, when it is more likely to trigger a psychotic break, even though I'm past my twenties; Secondhand smoke;
Untethered knives; Paper cuts; Velvet, the stiff kind;
Not being well-read enough; People thinking I'm not smart; People thinking I want to seem smart;
Getting stuck in a conversation I don't want to be in; Talking on the phone; Being spied on through my phone; Being spied on through my computer; Being spied on in real life;
Falling into a Porta Potty; That things perched precariously on tables will fall to the floor;
Being ordinary; Dying without achieving anything of note;
Having too little empathy for others; Having too much empathy for others and not enough for myself;
Being powerless; Gaining a lot of power and then being changed by that power so that I no longer care about others or recognize myself;
Children, primarily adolescents; Having a kid and being responsible for keeping that kid alive; Having a kid who turns out to be a sociopath and then having to decide how to manage that situation; Having a kid and being persuaded to join the PTA; Having a kid and regretting it; Not having a kid and regretting it;
Not getting enough done from the to-do list; That once everything on the to-do list is done, I'll die;
That tv show Criminal Minds; Ax murderers and rapists (somehow, not terrorists or ghosts); Wearing stiletto-heeled boots, because you can't kick them off if you're being chased;
Nuclear war; Climate change; Annihilation of the human species;
That when you're talking to me, you're thinking that something smells; Saying something offensive or stupid in front of a bunch of people, or one person;
Dating; Having to reject someone; Being rejected; New sex; STDs; Finding out the person you're dating is actually a psychopath, but not finding out until you're trapped in a remote cabin in the woods with them (that essentially happened once, so really I'm just afraid of it happening again);
Never finding true love of the kind they describe in books and movies; Finding true love after having already made a commitment to someone else; Finding true love and becoming boring; Not finding true love and becoming boring; That I might already be boring; That true love doesn't exist;
Having to do the same thing for the rest of my life; An overload of novelty;
That I don't fully appreciate those I love in the way I should; That I will die before those who love me are ready; That someone I love will die before I'm ready; That one can never be ready;
That my fears might keep me alive, yet keep me from living.
About the author...
Charlotte Hamilton is a writer, performer, and social worker. She has performed in storytelling and stand-up comedy events around Chicago. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Daily Palette, and Chicago Arts Journal. She is currently working on a play for Rhinofest (January-February 2018) at the Prop Theater.
Want to see more of Charlotte's work?
Check out her piece, What Words to Use, and With Whom, from Issue I: First Impressions!