Dutcher’s Notch


I am afraid of airplanes. I am afraid of boats. I am afraid of automobiles, especially as a passenger and especially at night. I am afraid of heights, and elevators, and cliff faces. I am afraid of any seat in a theater more than one away from an aisle. I am afraid of the dark, and of snapping twigs in a forest. I am afraid of murky water, of depth, currents, sharks. I am afraid of snakes. I am afraid of dogs. I am afraid of teenaged boys who travel in groups. I am afraid of anyone at any time with a gun. I am afraid of my heart and the million and one blood vessels that connect it to every part of my body, I am afraid of my freckles and pimples and glands, swollen or otherwise, and I am afraid of my brain. I monitor every scrape for signs of gangrene, and believe that every wheezing breath, whether induced by exercise or panic, is a sign of my weakness, if not of body then of mind: if I don’t die then I will kill myself, over and over and over again. There are moments when I forget to be afraid, and when I remember those moments later, I am afraid of them most of all. As I write this I sit on a moss- and fern-covered boulder in a place called Dutcher’s Notch, which is nothing more than a crossroads on the side of a mountain on the eastern edge of the Catskills.

more from Dale Peck at Threepenny Review here.