An Uncapped Pen

April 1, 2009

Who Am I?

Filed under: Writing Exercises — cindylv @ 10:00 pm


Can you guess who I am?  Do you remember the first time we met?

You were a child, maybe three or a little older. Those boys had you backed into the wall. You didn’t understand. You wanted to play, but you didn’t know this game. I saw one of them reach toward you. I didn’t wait. I exploded, like a fire bolt flung from the sky, spinning, kicking, scratching, and biting. “You leave her alone!” I screamed. My back against yours, we circled. “It’s okay,” I gasped. “They’re gone. We’re safe.”

You turned around and asked, “Who are you?”

“Shhhh….” I replied. “You’re safe now. Do you want me to stay with you?”

You smiled. I took hold of your hand and we walked home. You invited me in. At first, I just watched quietly from the corner. Waiting and learning. As you grew, so did I. When you came home, upset and crying, I’d wipe your tears, soothing, “There, there . . I’ve got you.” I held you until you slept. Then I’d watch you dream. In the morning, you’d forget all about your tears, but I held them for you, remembering.

And I grew. Stronger, quicker, sharper. I watched you play with the other children. And I whispered in your ear. “Be careful. Don’t run — you’ll fall.” On the swing when you pumped your legs with all your might, reaching for the sky, I was there to slow you down. You learned to ride your bike. I told you it would hurt when you crashed. And it did.

You took me to school and I sat close, holding your hand as you struggled in class. Again I whispered, “Don’t raise your hand. Don’t ask questions. Everyone will laugh at you. Shh….” And you listened to me.

I was there when you fell in love the first time. I saw him murmuring in your ear, telling you lies. I begged you not to listen to him. But your head was in the clouds and you forgot all about me and my power. I waited. And when he left you for another, I made my move. “Do you see? Didn’t I tell you? Look what happens when you don’t listen to me?” I closed in, wrapping myself around you, comforting, protecting. I felt you relent, opening yourself to me completely. I slithered inside and spread my tentacles, filling your body and mind, wrapping around your heart.

And here I have lived for years, choking you. I feed on your insecurity, growing, scraping away your layers from the inside. I lurk, just behind your eyes, a suffocating shadow, seeing what you see, sensing your thoughts. I plant my seeds of doubt and worry. And I wait.

I pounce at the slightest hint of weakness. With icy fingers, I paint your mistakes, and your pathetic excuses on your face. I unbutton your clothes and peel you open, exposing your faults for all to see.

You hate me. You forget how much you need me. You drink and you medicate to silence my voice. You poke and pry, trying to dislodge my grip. But I am too strong. I dig my claws deeper, and bare my fangs. ‘You’re nothing without me,” I hiss. “You need me. I keep you safe.” I wrap myself more tightly around your heart, pulling you inside with me.

I am your fear.

And now, you are mine.



My assignment today was to write about an emotion without naming it until the end of the piece, inspired by the book “Writing The Natural Way” by Gabriele Lusser Rico.



  1. Oh my. That was tremendously powerful. And felt all too familiar. Well done, Cindy. I was feeling fear pretty shortly into the piece, so apparently you succeeded in describing the emotion.

    Yikes. Please don’t ever write about hatred; I’m not sure I could stand it.

    Comment by Piglet — April 1, 2009 @ 10:40 pm | Reply

    • Thank you, Piglet. This exercise had me blocked for several days. I’ve been frustrated and angry at myself for not completing it. And avoiding it made it more painful, because I knew it was a bare nerve. Once I got started with the preliminary drill (clustering ideas), I started crying and wasn’t able to stop until after I published the completed post.

      Overly dramatic? Sure. But I think emotions are pure, unbridled energy. My goal was to present the emotion, not to present a believable story. Once I tapped into it emotion, I just tried to keep up with the flow.

      If I do write about hatred, I’ll warn you first! :^D

      Comment by cindylv — April 1, 2009 @ 11:10 pm | Reply

  2. I am close to tears. This is very powerful. Bravo.

    Comment by Lisa Kenney — April 1, 2009 @ 10:52 pm | Reply

    • Lisa: **squeezing your hand**

      This exercise is part of my attempt to unblock and write more freely. I certainly hit one of my own nerves. The exercise begins by assigning you a topic to “cluster” or brainstorm. Suddenly (and magically) the urge to write takes over and … voila….you write a vignette. So this was my first attempt, and I was skeptical. But the words came and now I’m exhausted. I can’t wait to see what’s in the next chapter!

      Comment by cindylv — April 1, 2009 @ 11:17 pm | Reply

  3. Haunting.

    Comment by Sue Mueller — April 21, 2009 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

  4. Based on the power of this vignette, I checked Rico’s book out of the library and have started working with it. This is powerful stuff, this “clustering.” I’m uncovering some veeerrrryyyy interesting things, and am only on Chapter 3! I’m stuck at “draw a picture of yourself, including 3 things about yourself that you like, then cluster, then write.” I’m avoiding it like the plague. “Think positive!” “OK, I’m positively avoiding it like the plague.” But, I’ve told myself I will go in order, so I can’t do any more of the fun play stuff that might be ahead until I get past this one. *sigh*

    Cindy: Thanks again for having the guts not only to write this, but to share it with us. You’re a peach.

    Comment by Piglet, MPH — April 21, 2009 @ 8:58 pm | Reply

    I feel like bowing down.
    It is uniquely powerful and intensly meditative.
    Love it…


    Comment by maglomaniac — May 13, 2009 @ 10:08 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: