Dear Internet,

To anybody who may be reading this, I would like to share a secret. This is a truth about me that I’ve been reluctant to share with anybody for as long as it has plagued me. This is a truth that I have fought countless times to no avail. I have even tried to simply deny it, though like a parasite it would never leave me. For as long as I can remember, I have been haphephobic.

Now you might be wondering, “What the hell is that?” And to you I would respond with my deepest envy, as I am jealous of your blissful ignorance. I would also explain that haphephobia is the fear of being touched, and of physical contact. Prolonged physical contact makes me nauseous, and hands are my biggest fear. I imagine you would find that amusing, and if you do, I fully understand. I myself am aware that it is completely irrational, but that obviously isn’t enough to chase away a phobia. I doubt writing a blog will be either, but I just felt like I should share this with somebody, even if it is with people who may or may not care. I don’t know specifically when this started, but from sometime in my childhood, I have been terrified of people even coming near me. It started off innocent enough. Whether it was with the kids at the park, or at parties held between my mother and her friends, I would always keep my distance from the kids around me, especially the boys. I don’t mean to be rude or prejudiced, but boys would always make me uncomfortable in particular. My parents simply thought it was a sign of maidenship, but I didn’t feel like it was. It wasn’t that I felt like playing rough was improper, but rather that I was afraid of what might happen if I were to make contact with somebody. Adults mostly found it cute, so they didn’t think reinforcing the fact that touch is indeed not lethal was very necessary. From where I stand today, I would say it was clearly very necessary, but obviously you cannot change the past. Judging by my predicament today, however, sometimes it feels like even the present is unchangeable.

From around the age of seven, I believe, is when this phobia of mine really started to take hold of my life. I was past my days of being a baby, or a mere toddler, and I was starting to feel like I really could become whatever I could dream to become. This was just one of the many things I could thank my mother for. It was her that had helped me most along my journey of life, and the only one I could thank for my strong optimism. Despite this, she was still unaware of my fear, and I’m afraid it was such a thing that nobody, not even family, could have helped me with, though people did help in making it worse. It was June 27th, 1999, and some of the girls in my class were organizing a sleepover to celebrate the coming of summer, though mostly summer break. Around this time, my fear had weakened its grip on my life, and I was beginning to make a lot of friends. I guess I was a social butterfly all along; you know, without the fear weighing me down, but it was not apparent until that Grade 1 year. I was good friends with one of the girls who had organized the event (or rather their parents had), so I was invited. Naive old me, however, wasn’t actually aware what a sleepover was, but I had trusted my friend and decided to go anyway. Dressed in our pajamas, Lucca and I had been dropped off at Cindy’s house for a sleepover on the 29th, and boy were we excited. What I had imagined was a night of lying in our beds, staring at the ceiling and sharing stories with each other as we slowly fell asleep, and I had a feeling Lucca was more knowledgeable. We were welcomed into the house being the first to arrive, and we started off just chatting in the living room.

As more and more kids started to show up, however, we eventually relocated upstairs, where Cindy had planned a night of games and fun until the morning came. Marching up to her room and taking a step in, everybody was mesmerized by her amazing room, which in retrospect, was the most girly room in the world. Her bed was especially queen-like, being big enough for all five us to fit comfortably on. Whatever Cindy had planned to do would have to wait, as her massive bed had inspired my friend Lucca to sprint onto it, raise her fist and yell, “Pillow fight!” All the girls immediately followed behind her to claim their weapon of murder, though I had stayed back. Instead I stood there with my hands shaking, as I struggled to fight back an old friend. It seemed that only my fear for the possibility of being touched had lessened, but I was still anxious if it was certain to come. I didn’t want to look odd in front of my friends, so I inched up to the bed and sort of sat on the very edge. After a couple minutes, the four had finished tossing all their pillows out, and were exhausted from the work. I didn’t want to seem like a bad sport, so I told them I would go downstairs and get some drinks to help them rest, though as I said it, Lucca seemed to get a mischievous glint in her eyes. The girls must have discussed something when I went downstairs, because as I re-entered the room I heard them snickering. I set the Kool-Aid Jammers down on the bedside table, and sat beside it. As expected, the girls crawled towards the table, but as they did, they seemed to be eyeing me down. Due to my fear, I immediately went into defense-mode upon detecting danger, but I was already too late. I could only remember what proceeded as one of the most terrifying moments of my life.

One of the girls, Rebecca, had grabbed from behind, and had me in a lock with my arms useless above my head, while the other three pinned me down to my bed. I realized that they were planning to attack me while I was downstairs getting the drinks, probably because I had sat out the whole game of pillow fight. All three at once dug into my torso, tickling me against my will. Fingers brushed against my ribs and stomach, and I struggled to keep breathing as a wave of panic washed over me. I could hear their giggling as I struggled against the reins holding me down, but I was too weak. My lungs were empty and I felt like screaming, but couldn’t, though with every breath, I could feel the air escaping me like a deflated tire. Finally, I could no longer take it and started to sob, which the girls had thankfully noticed. Lying curled up in a ball, I had felt violated and vulnerable, and if I had the energy I would have run.

Cindy’s parents came rushing upstairs from hearing my crying, and tried their best to comfort me while they tried to piece together what had happened. I didn’t want my friends to get in trouble since they weren’t trying to hurt me, but at the moment I was seething with fear, hate, anger and too many other emotions to speak. As I found out later, Cindy was grounded after the sleepover, and even during the party, I imagine the mood had been ruined by my pathetic number.

Cindy’s parents gave me a ride home, and were really nice about the whole incident, but the entire ride home, I couldn’t help feel like the whole situation was basically all my fault. I realized my friends were simply playing a friendly trick on me, unaware I was going to lash out like that. They would have known about my fear if I had just told them about it. As we drove in silence, I could feel myself tearing up. Me, I thought, that’s what’s wrong. If it wasn’t for my stupid fear, this entire thing would never have happened. I felt guilty and ashamed of myself, being afraid of something as simple as being touched. It’s not like they’re going to kill you, they’re your friends! I blamed myself for the incident the following days, and did not speak at all to Cindy or Lucca. They would give me an apologetic look whenever we would accidentally make eye contact, but I tried not to make them uncomfortable by returning their gaze. Even though Lucca had faced me the day after and apologized, my guilt still remained, along with my fear.

That night, however, I had rushed off to bed right after Cindy’s parents drove me home, partly because I was tired, and mostly because I did not want to discuss with my parents what happened. Cindy’s parents were understanding, so they only told my parents that I came back because I was not feeling well. I had brushed my teeth in a hurry, and took off for bed, all the while acting like I was coming down with a fever or something so I could get to bed fast. I lay down on the soft pillow, and hoped to put the night behind me as my eyes slowly wavered and closed shut.

Also that night, I remember I had a dream, or I guess it was more so a nightmare. It wasn’t bad enough that I had had a panic attack at my friend’s sleepover; I also had to have a nightmare to close off the night. From what I can remember, my dream had begun with me lying on a raft of wood, drifting listlessly across a sea with water as far the eye could see. I sat up and blinked my eyes, looking at the only thing that stood out in the scene: me. I seemed to be older; much bigger than a seven year old girl. Around me, the air was cold, and the wind felt like it was piercing through my shirt. I sat on the raft for what felt like hours, wondering if there was anything that I should be doing. The dream seemed to be messing with my common sense, as I was not at all shocked by the fact that I was floating alone in a sea on a small raft.

Suddenly, though the raft was stable and the sea calm, my wooden platform began to inexplicably sink. I at least knew the basics of swimming in real life, but in the dream I seemed to be helpless in the water. I stretched out my arms and legs to float, but I was somehow still sinking. I began to thrash desperately to try and stay afloat, but despite my efforts I was slowly falling below the waves. Suddenly though, right before my head went under, I was met with a touch at the center of my back. Reflexively, I jumped and gasped, almost taking in the seawater. Slowly, though, the hand fixed its palm on my back, as if trying to keep me from sinking to the bottom of the sea. That’s not what I thought at the moment, though, as my heart raced and I tried even harder to try and escape what awaited me below the surface. With the arrival of the first hand, more and more hands started to emerge from the depths, each finding a spot on my body to latch onto. Two hands grabbed my shoulder, one held my head up, two supported my waist, a couple situated at my elbows, and four more kept my legs up. Though my head was above the water, I was sputtering to breath. The hands were helping to keep me from drowning, but I writhed and squirmed against their touch, anxious to escape the torture. It was hard to tell in the water, but I had a feeling I was breaking into a cold sweat. My skin tingled where the hands had touched me, but I tried to reassure myself that they were helping me.

For a while, the hands had kept me in place, making sure I would not fall to the depths of the cruel sea, and I fought to keep myself calm and thinking straight. However, all of a sudden, the hands had switched from supporting me to taking hold of my body. I gasped in surprise, making sure to take a deep breath in anticipation of what was to come. With one swift motion, the hands had pulled me underwater, and were now pulling me down to the bottom of the ocean. My deep breath of oxygen was useless as my heart was racing past the speed limit, and my mind rushed in a million directions. Panic took over me as I wrestled against the hands that secured me well, but my strength was outnumbered. Soon more and more hands began to surround me, grabbing every bit of exposed skin. I could no longer feel my clothes, and the fingers felt my bare skin as I was stretched out and dragged into the depths of the sea*. As my lungs neared their end, I shut my eyes, opened my mouth and let out a scream of pure fear and agony.

Suddenly the water and the hands were gone, and once again I was lying on my bed safely under the covers. I didn’t have time to wonder if I actually screamed in real life, because I immediately felt around my bed. No hands. Thank God. I was also relieved to have my clothes back. I curled into a ball, buried my face in my hands and began sobbing like a little kid. I had no idea what the hell was going on, and I really wasn’t curious to find out. All I knew was that I just wanted it to leave me alone.

Years had passed since then, and I was twelve, starting middle school in the fall. Lucca and I had remained great friends throughout the years, but despite the incident when we were seven, I had still not shared with her my source of dread. She had faced me the day after that night to apologize and ask why I freaked out that night, though I simply told her that it was nothing; that I was just tired and caught off guard. She was a good friend, but I would not dare even tell her the truth. I was nervous starting middle school since our school’s population was small going in. The year had begun tough since a lot of my friends had moved away, and we had a lot more work. This was partly due to my recent involvement in soccer, as I was having trouble managing practice with schoolwork. Middle school had been great with Lucca’s help, though I didn’t really have many friends besides her. My soccer career in the junior and senior teams was great and I felt like a strong part of both teams. However, things went horribly wrong during the state championships game, but it wasn’t because of failure. I cannot blame my team for anything that happened.

We had expected the game to be tough, but we weren’t expecting it to be a downright stall. Through much effort (and luck), both teams had eventually made it to a comfortable 2-2, but were struggling to make it any further than that. In the final three minutes however, the opposing team came in for a final and absolute offense to make it through our lines, but our goalie had remained vigilant, and shot the ball back behind their lines before they could react. I had received the ball, and ran it all the way to their net before any of them could catch up.

With my goal having been a success, the crowd and our team burst into roaring applause knowing we had won, and I fell to the ground exhausted. I hit my head, which left me pretty dazed on the ground during the celebration. I had drained all my stamina rushing the net, and I was breathing hard. Before I got a chance to attempt getting up, however, I was suddenly met with my team crowding around me, but I thought they were simply going to congratulate me. To say that I was caught off guard would have been an understatement, as instead of helping me up they began lifting me off the ground. I was taken by surprise, and didn’t have the breath to tell them to put me back down: beg them to put me back down. I gasped and tried to pry the hands the hands off of me, but there were simply too many. My teammates reared back and launched me into the air, and for a terrifying second, I hung in the air wishing I could escape, but the hands were my only support. I could not afford to escape their grasp. As quickly as it came, my moment of peace was over, and despite my wild flailing, I would inevitably sink back into their grasp. I did not want it to be like this. I really didn’t. My peers, my friends, my teammates were there to support me, but I knew then, and I know now, that I will never be able to accept their aid. I would never get myself to take their hand.

By the time I had sunk back into the hands from my fall, I was in tears: I couldn’t control myself. I tried steadying my breath to speak, but I was quickly thrown back into the air before I could collect my shattered frame of my mind. Over the celebratory cheers and shouts of my team my sobbing was unheard. As I came down the second time, however, I heard my team be silenced by a voice I recognized: Lucca. She had finally managed to quiet the crowd and get them to put me down. I had my eyes shut, but I could hear Lucca outside of the crowd. She must have not have participated in the crowd cheer. I don’t know how, but she seemed to have known about my fear even though I had never told her. I assume it was because she didn’t accept my lame excuse, and had a feeling that something was up the night of the previous incident. Because of the sudden quiet, I pressed my hands against my face to try to make my sobbing unheard. I was friends with pretty much everybody in my team, and they were all very nice, but it certainly wasn’t easy having a panic attack in front of them. It wasn’t easy having a panic attack at all, much less in front of others. I knew they would give me some space after what happened, but I still felt like I was in danger. I curled up into a ball to minimize my surface area, and begged my heart to slow down. I hoped my trembling wasn’t too apparent. Lucca sat beside me trying to comfort me, and I was really thankful to her for that, but it still took a while before I finally calmed down.

After that lovely incident, I could not look my team in the eyes. Lucca escorted me to the change room, and then helped me get home. Since our houses were close by, we decided to walk home. It was still sunny, bright and hot, so it added to my urge to get home and stay locked up in my room forever. I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anybody, but I couldn’t just ditch Lucca and walk home alone. Unfortunately, halfway home, she decided it was time to face me about what happened. Whatever Lucca had to ask me, I don’t think I wanted to hear it, but getting this over with was probably the best idea.

“What have you been hiding from me, Megan?” she asked me. “What’s telling you going to solve?” I responded. “What are you talking about Megan?” she exclaimed, “I’m your best friend!” She had a point, but still. It was difficult, but I finally told her about my haphephobia. Surprisingly, she wasn’t very shocked. “I had a feeling,” she said, “that you might freak out if the team decided to celebrate by tossing you into the air, but I couldn’t stop them in time.” “It’s not your fault,” I assured her. “Are you going to be all right?” she asked. Fortunately, we had finally reached my house, so I decided to end the conversation, “Yeah, I’ll just need some time alone.” And with that, we parted ways.

To my luck, my parents weren’t home, which meant less people to bug me after the long day. I grabbed some chocolate milk from the fridge, trudged up the stairs, entered my room and locked the door. In hindsight, keeping the door would have let the wind flow and kept my room cool, but I could hardly care less about that. It was barely evening, but I felt drained. Lying on my bed, I could still feel my back tingle from where my team had lifted me up, as if they had left a mark on me. I chugged my milk and set the bottle down on the bedside table, turning over to try and take a nap. It wasn’t very hard seeing how tired I was. I closed my eyes and drifted to sleep.

Like that night seven years ago, I had another nightmare. It seemed my mind’s way of coping with a bad day was to make it worse. This time around, I found myself on solid ground, at the very least. I was standing barefoot on a cold marble floor, with nothing around me as I walked in a straight line along a vast white floor. The sky was clouded with mist, and I could see only so far around me before my vision plunged into the fog. From what I could see, there wasn’t anything else besides me in my dream, so out of curiosity I kept walking forward listlessly through what felt like miles of blank white floor. It was just a dream, so I couldn’t feel myself getting tired, and the dream had made my mind blank.

After a while of walking, it had become second nature to me, and I instead shifted my focus to what was outside the fog, and if there was something I should be doing. I focused my eyes on the fog ahead of me, but no matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t tell what was behind the cloudy cover. At this point, I was starting to get a little annoyed with how no matter how far I walked, there was nothing for me to see or do. Fortunately, or unfortunately, to meet my boredom the sky around me began to darken. The once white room slowly dimmed more and more until it matched the brightness of a dimly moonlit night. However, before I could question the sudden occurrence, there came a sound of footsteps not far behind me. A step-by-step recreation of my walk cycle was brought to my attention, and whatever was the source of the sound, it sounded close. I only now felt the presence of this…thing because its walking wasn’t synchronized with mine.

Instinctively, I tried to look behind me to check what it was that was behind me, but I realized my head suddenly would not turn. Try as I might, my head was now caught in a figurative neck brace, and I could only move my eyes. I began walking faster and faster trying to outrun my doppelganger, but the footsteps were just as fast. The marble floor was slippery, so I couldn’t afford to run, because the thing might catch me while I was down. Running from it, I knew I would not be at rest unless I saw this thing that was chasing me, though it very well could have made the dream much more frightening. I tugged my neck back and forth, trying to turn it in the direction of this creature. Left and right I struggled, though my efforts felt fruitless. After tugging my neck for a bit, however, it started to move more and more. Slowly I fought against the stiffness and managed to turn my head and shoulders to look behind me.

Nothing. There was nothing behind me. As I stared at and walked away from this mysterious series of footsteps, I could see that there was nothing there. It was still bright enough for me to be able to see figures, so why could I not see this thing? Out of fear, I was still walking, but I stared through endless darkness unable to find what I was looking for. I knew it was there. In my heart I knew it was there, so why couldn’t I see it? I could not see its figure change, but I could tell from its footsteps that this thing was now getting bigger. Gentle steps had turned to thumps, and I knew I would not survive whatever it was that was behind me. I looked away and walked at a brisk pace. I thought that since this thing had gotten bigger that I would be able to out-walk it. I was wrong. It still hovered right behind me. I closed my eyes and tried my best not to let this thing catch up to me, but my run would not be without obstacles. At my new point in this vast empty realm, I was met with many more footsteps around me, though these were occupied by physical forms at the very least. I could not make out any features besides the fact that they looked human. They were walking slower than me, so I had to pass a few as I walked briskly past them. I tried my best not to touch any of them, and for the moment it was relatively easy. They weren’t hard to avoid until they began strafing as they walked, moving in different directions with no indication or hint as to their movement. I started colliding with some of them, flinching every time I did. The darkness only served to amplify my irrational fear, as it was now getting harder and harder to see the people walking around. I could only tell their location from their footsteps. Like my previous nightmare, every touch from somebody was felt through my clothes, if I was even wearing any. It was hard to tell in the dream. The population of this empty field was increasing at a fast rate, and there were more people appearing faster than I could avoid. It was particularly difficult to avoid them without slowing down, so I hoped for the best, hugged myself, and pushed through the forming crowd.

Pushing through the crowd was more difficult than I expected, and it wasn’t because they wouldn’t budge. Every touch was like an electric shock, and my skin tingled everywhere. It was impossible to escape the bodies surrounding me, as their rustling clothes brushed against my skin. The fact that the crowd was pretty much at a standstill made me have to push through a lot more people to keep going. I could feel my panic building. Combined with the pitch black, the lack of footsteps made it near impossible to sense anybody besides touching them. Since there was nothing to see due to the darkness, I closed my eyes and tried to block out the feeling of pushing through the crowd. My knees were trembling, but I managed to keep walking. I assured myself that their touch would not harm me, and that escaping the grasp of the thing that was chasing me was more important. It was close behind me, and was getting closer by the minute. I hoped that it would be slowed by the crowd like I was, and so far that seemed to have been the case. However, it was still gaining in on me fast. This continued until the creature was about a foot from me. I could feel its presence though it made no sound but the sound of its footsteps trudging through the crowd. Yet all at once, both the creature and the crowd came to a screeching halt, stopping me from proceeding any further.

I tried to push through the compact crowd but the people around me seemed to now be holding their ground, not letting me pass. I tried going left and right but the people surrounding me had made a wall around me. The circle of people blocking me started to huddle around me, coming closer and closer. With one swift motion, all of them made a grab for me, trying to hold me down. The person behind me clamped my mouth shut and held me by the neck. The others grabbed me and held my hands behind my back, pinning me to a wall that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. In the silence, the only things audible were the footsteps of the creature that had been following me this entire time, and the rushing sound of my speeding heart. I couldn’t stand people touching my face, and at the time their grasp terrified me more than anything the creature could have done to me. I listened in horror as the steps came closer and closer, and despite my retaliations, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop it. I closed my eyes and made a silent prayer, wishing that it was a hallucination of some sort. The creature stepped close to me and grabbed me by the sides of the head. I opened my eyes to see that it now had a physical form. In the darkness, I could barely see its face, but I could tell it was pale; sickeningly pale, but it didn’t seem to have any expression. I felt it press down on my skull, and for a second I saw its eyes flash a sickening, pale, iris-less white, staring back at me. Its jaw fell open, and it let loose a loud, ear – shattering roar.

I woke up in a cold sweat, screaming like the creature in my dreams. My eyes darted around the room, trying to validate that I was indeed back in reality, and thankfully the sun was there to dispel my doubts. It seemed that apparently not much time had passed while I was asleep, even though it definitely felt like hours to me. Instinctively, I checked around the room to see if there was anybody else around but me, but obviously there wasn’t anybody else in my room. I breathed a sigh of relief and fell back into my pillow, holding my face where the hand had touched me. The dream was as bad as, if not worse than my previous nightmare 7 years ago, but this time, I could definitely feel the malice in these spirits. It was no coincidence by which they had pinned me to a wall to be met by the odd creature. The experience was especially frightening because one of the spirits had touched my face. Due to my haphephobia, places such as my face which would normally be off limits are especially so. Whether it’s in my dreams or in real life, I can’t stand anybody touching my face or my neck, and I always feel like I will suffocate if something comes near my face. I guess it is mild claustrophobia, but I didn’t want to admit it was. I didn’t want another phobia on my hands. Fortunately my parents weren’t home yet, so I had time to recover from my strange nightmare. I didn’t want to fall asleep again, so I got up and decided to pace around the house.

That incident was at the end of grade 8, when middle school would end pretty soon, and high school was around the corner. Once again I would lose most of my friends, but this time our school was fortunately one of the bigger feeder schools. Despite this, on my first day of school I felt like a complete stranger. I should have felt right at home, but it felt like the people in my class had changed. Most of the people in my classes were familiar, and yet I still felt like a nobody. Besides Lucca, now I didn’t really feel like I had any close friends. I was never quite bullied either, but I guess there’s a first for everything.

This incident had started off in science class on third period. It was a long day, and it wasn’t even over yet. It was getting to be the end of the year, but nobody seemed too excited. This was the first year we had to take an exam in our lives, so we were pretty bummed out. We were taking attendance, and our teacher, Mr. Anderson noticed that one of the kids in our class, Johnny, was not present. I had seen him in the halls that day, so I raised my hand to tell the teacher that he may just be late. Unbeknownst to me, Johnny wasn’t just late, but was instead planning to show up late for class with the excuse that he just got to school. About more than halfway through class, he walked into class with a late slip, claiming that he had woken up late, and had rushed to school. Unfortunately for him, Mr. Anderson didn’t buy it because of my information, so Johnny was given detention and told to go sit down.

After class was over, it was time for lunch. Lunch was always the most crowded, and the cafeteria was always filled to the brim with hungry teenagers. During the first few minutes, the hallways would be overflowing with traffic, which made it especially difficult to not bump into everybody on your way to your locker. Between classes I would always make sure to be the first one out to avoid the hallway confrontation, and for lunch my locker was, fortunately, very close to my class, and I would rush there and take proceed to take shelter in the bathroom to wait out the traffic.

Today, however, it seemed as though Johnny and his buddies were not too pleased with my little slip-up and I knew I would have to lose them before I get to my locker. As soon as the bell rang, they were right behind me leaving the class, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk straight to my locker. I decided I had to make some detours to lose them. When we left, the hallways were only beginning to be filled, so I had time to put some distance between us. This went well until I got past my locker and turned the corner. By now there was more and more people filing into the halls, and it seemed like my best option would be to try and lose my chasers in the crowd. My plan was simple, and I was short enough in an elaborately-designed school to pull it off, but I couldn’t help but feel a rush of fear. I realized it was my haphephobia acting up, but I wasn’t up for welcoming it. I knew though that I could not afford to get caught, so I took a deep breath and pushed briskly through the crowd.

At first, it was relatively easy not bumping into anybody; especially because I had practice doing so. People would walk in a straight line following the hallway, and there weren’t too many of them. Soon though, there were a lot of people in the halls, a lot more than I was expecting. I would usually have been in the bathroom waiting out the traffic by then. My heartbeat started to pick up. Once again I was at a loss for one possible reason as to how a crowded hallway of students could harm me, but my brain wouldn’t listen. Every touch was like an electric shock, and there was nothing I could have done about it. With these continuing incidents I further doubted my ability to overcome my crippling phobia. I hugged my binder close to my heart, hoping it would provide some relief from being in the crowd: some kind of protection. It felt hopeless and futile in the long run, but I kept walking.

My mixed fears of my pursuers and the crowd helped with my escape quite a bit. I walked and walked and walked around the school, taking twists and turns to lose my chasers, but they kept on following me. I couldn’t believe it hadn’t occurred to me that I could have simply waited in the girl’s washroom to get them to forfeit chasing me. Instead I just kept walking through the crowd taking unexpected turns hoping I would lose them. Eventually, though, the crowd had thinned, and I was left very much in plain sight to my followers. The population density was now so low there was next to nobody in the hallway they had me cornered in. It was just them and I, and that was not good.

“Oh, look who we have here,” Johnny spoke, “Little Miss Bigmouth.” I knew nothing I could have said would have made the situation better, so I kept quiet. “It wasn’t very nice what you did today,” he continued his monologue, “It’s not nice to tell on others.” Johnny looked nothing special, but I knew as well as anybody how hard this guy could hit. Whether he would hit a girl or not we were yet to find out, but I wasn’t too excited to.

“Go ahead, say something,” he urged me, yet I still remained quiet. “Come on, try to come up with an excuse. Anything.” Despite his constant pushing, I remained silent, trying to evaluate the situation to see if I could get myself out of it. Unfortunately, we were in the least populated hallway in the school, and I doubted that anybody would show up any time soon. I finally decided to speak, “What do you want?” I was genuinely asking him what he wanted from me, but I guess he took it the wrong way, because he now looked even madder than before. “What do I want?” he asked me rhetorically, “What I want is to be able to take a couple leaves from class without being ratted out.” It probably wasn’t the best idea, but I decided to ask him, “Why were you skipping school then?” Even as I said it, I knew I should have taken it back. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how mad I was myself, and how evident it was in how I said it. Johnny expected to be able to miss classes and dodge all responsibility without any consequences. He had no worries about life, yet he was still too cocky and spoiled to make it through school. However, my boiling anger was quickly nullified when Johnny walked closer, putting my back against the wall. His sly grin had turned into a sneer staring back at me. “Why?” he asked me, grabbing me by the collars on my shirt, “Because I felt like it!” Immediately my heart sped up a couple notches in an instant. I clenched my fists and took a deep breath, knowing I couldn’t let Johnny see how terrified I was. I was probably trembling, but there was no way he could have noticed it from the look in his eyes. “It’s none of your business what I want to do or not do,” he stated, “Understand?” At this point, I realized that he was bluffing, and wouldn’t actually hit me. Under normal circumstances, I would have been able to talk back to him knowing this, but this time was different. This time my haphephobia was involved. Against my will, I nodded. “Good,” he said, looking a little calmed down. As he let me go, I found a seat on the floor trying to stop my knees from giving out.

He looked over at one of his buddies and said, “Hey Jones, you got my math textbook?” Fortunately for him, Jones seemed to indeed possess his textbook. Johnny took it from his hand and dropped it on the floor beside me. “You’ll be doing everything I’ve missed so far,” he said to me, “which is pretty much everything.” Apparently out of things to say to me, he simply turned around and walked away with his buddies, looking more relieved than ever. I picked my sorry behind off the floor, took his textbook and set off towards my locker to get my lunch.

These events happened today, and I am sitting here on my bed in the dead of night typing out this blog post. I don’t how long I’ve been doing this. It could very well have been hours since I began, but now the clock is telling me it is officially the next day. My reasons for not going to bed already is not the cause of procrastination, nor does it have roots in the events that had conspired today. I am rather afraid of what might happen if I were to fall asleep. I’ve taken notice of the fact that in all previous incidents concerning my haphephobia, the next night I would always have a dream that would foreshadow the next incident. The night of the incident when I was seven had me sinking in a sea, only to be kept supported by a wave of hands. A very similar event had occurred 7 years later where I was hefted by my teammates and tossed up in celebration, resembling my dream through hands that kept me from falling, hands that would support yet terrify me. That night I had another dream resembling my encounter today with Johnny, supporting that same feeling of helplessness and inability to escape what is chasing me. After all that has happened today, I cannot get myself to go to sleep. What if I have another nightmare like that? I know the previous nightmares could have very well have been coincidences, but I simply cannot get myself to believe they were. I don’t know what to do, but I guess I’ll have to go to sleep eventually. I might as well face my fate.

Credited to veryclever4u

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