Excerpt from "Three Reasons to Be Afraid of the Dark"
The Wizard Marissa, famed and feared by the age of twenty-five, was cripplingly afraid of the dark when she was twelve. Not many people know this. But if they'd think a moment, they would not be surprised. Power is so often acquired in the overcoming of fear, and sometimes in failing to overcome it. Twelve was also the age at which Marissa made three terrifying discoveries. The first, and the least terrifying (though no terrors seem "least" anything at the time), was that she was going to be a wizard when she grew up. It happened at bedtime, on a night like any other. Marissa was taking her usual five minutes to convince herself to turn out the light. This shamed her deeply. All her friends seemed to have outgrown their night terrors years ago. It seemed unfair that the dark should still hold nasty secrets and shadowy monsters for her. Every night she closed her eyes tight and told herself that, if she were asleep by the time the monsters pounced--and they WOULD pounce, sooner or later--maybe it would hurt less. Every night she hummed little songs in her head and told herself stories, just to distract herself enough to get to sleep. Every night she had to trick herself into turning off the light. But this night, when the light went out, she found that she was glowing in the dark. A soft luminescence radiated from her skin. It was the color of mist, and barely brighter than those neon sticks the neighborhood kids got on Halloween. Dim though it was, it was enough. It sent the monsters away. That was discovery number one. At first, Marissa loved it. She wasn't scared anymore. She needn't cower under the covers or inside the space behind her eyelids. She stayed up late now with her eyes wide open, roaming her transformed house. Nighttime, the undiscovered country, was at last hers to explore. But it was her explorations that turned the miracle into a curse.... __ Full text (PDF, 1070 words) available in Patron-only archives at http://www.patreon.com/creation?hid=1494684