Fear is Soft and Smooth
Marina was extremely afraid of the dark. When the lights went out, everything and every shadow appeared to her as the most terrible of monsters. Her parents explained to her, everyday and with great patience, that these things were not monsters. Marina understood her parents, but she could not stop feeling an awful fear whenever it was dark.
One day her Aunt Valerie came to visit. Valerie was an incredible woman. She was famous for her courage, and for having gone on many journeys of adventure, some of which had been made into books and movies. Marina wanted to conquer her fear of the dark, so she asked her Aunt how she became so brave, and whether she had ever been frightened.
“A great many times, Marina,” answered her Aunt, “I remember when I was small and I was terribly afraid of the dark. I couldn’t stay in the dark for even a moment”.
Marina became very excited. How was it possible that someone so courageous could have been afraid of the dark?
“I’ll tell you a secret, Marina. It was some blind children who taught me how to be brave. They can’t see, so if they had never discovered the secret of how not to be afraid of the dark, they would have been forever frightened”.
“It’s true!” said Marina, intrigued, “Can you tell me that secret?”
“Of course! The secret is to change your eyes. Since blind children can’t see, their hands are their eyes. All you have to do to conquer your fear is what they do. Shut the eyes of your face and open the eyes of your hands. Let’s make a deal: tonight, when you go to bed and put out the light, if anything makes you afraid, close your eyes, carefully get out of bed, and try to see what it is that’s making you scared. But do it using your hands as eyes… and tomorrow tell me how you’re getting on with the fear”.
Marina accepted, but she was rather worried. She knew she would need to be brave to close her eyes and go and touch whatever it was that was frightening her; but she was willing to try because she was already too old for this. When her parents took her to bed, she herself put out the light. After a little while, she felt afraid of one of the shadows in the bedroom. Following the advice of Aunt Valerie, she closed the eyes of her face and opened the eyes of her hands. And, summoning up all her courage, she went over to touch that mysterious shadow…
The next morning Marina came running into the kitchen, a big smile on her face, and a song on her lips. “The monster is so soft and smooth!…” she cried,
“It’s my teddy bear!”
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