There was a loud crash in the hallway and Marissa slammed her face into a pillow to stifle a scream. She lay still for a minute, ears listening for any little thing while her mind thought of what she would do—pretend to be asleep? try to attack? try to hide?—when the intruder found the door to her room.
This was Marissa; she was always afraid. Irrationally so. Ever since she could remember she always heard noises and saw things. When she was in one room, she was sure she’d see shadows quickly darting about in another room or down the hallway. Not all the time, not every day, but she saw these shadows and she heard strange noises quite often. Like the crash in the hallway.
There was never anything to come from the sights and sounds other than maybe an elevated blood pressure or a premature gray hair. Noises generally were a result of something getting knocked down from the vibrations of the trucks on the street she lived on, for example; shadows were just a result of her overactive imagination.
Nevertheless, Marissa always envisioned the worst.
When she was younger, Marissa was sure the car door would suddenly fly open and she’d be sucked out of the car as her mom and dad and brothers drove down the highway to visit family. She hated sitting against the door because of this, but she hated the middle seat more. At least if she was by the door, the chances of her little brother Mark puking on her were slimmer than if she was in the middle since her older brother Andrew refused to give up his seat behind their dad. Of course if the door did finally fly open, she’d be a goner for sure, but she figured that since the door never opened she’d stick with the safety of being able to rush out of the car when Mark puked. Because with Mark, it wasn’t a case of If he would puke in the car, it was always When.
Even when she was a child, it annoyed Marissa how paralyzed she became by fear, but as soon as the fear subsided, she wouldn’t give it another thought until the next time she was paralyzed.
Paralyzed by fear.
It was getting so bad she wondered if she’d ever live a normal life. At 23, and still living at home, Marissa let fear control her. It was like an abusive boyfriend, but of course Marissa couldn’t see this. And because she wasn’t ever the one amidst her peers to shine, even a little bit, Marissa felt doomed for a life of solitude as a result.
And then she met Stan.