Understanding Fear by Richard Norway

by Richard Norway


A small harmless house spider walked along the sidewalk with all of its legs scrambling to get to the other side, to the safety of the lawn. It seemed frantic to get out of our way as Terry and I approached.


Terry’s boot came down and crushed the spider.

I looked up at Terry, bit my lower lip.

“Gotcha.” was all he said.

'What is it about our lives that makes us so callous to the other lives around us?  Are we afraid?  Is the fear of those around us that ingrained?  And why do we feel the need to constantly defend ourselves?  But isn’t that fear really also fear of ourselves?'  I thought.

“What’s wrong Chris? It was just a spider.”

“But it was alive, Terry.”

“Not anymore.”

As Terry’s eyes focused on the sidewalk in front of us, we made our way to our high school to start another Monday of classes. I watched him closely, seeing that look of defiance, of self-satisfaction that he had just controlled his world again. I knew Terry was afraid of being outed at school, but the spider was something that he could control. The insecurity of others was something that he could not control. He could control how he himself acted, how he could deny who he and I are.

I turned to him, sadly thinking of Terry, my boyfriend, my boyfriend who couldn’t admit to himself who he is. And because he couldn’t admit who he is, he couldn’t admit who I am either.

I knew that Terry was afraid. Terry was even afraid of me for what I represent to him.

Terry stopped moving, he no longer walked next to me. I turned around and saw him standing on the sidewalk, staring at me. Then I noticed his eyes.


“What is it? What’s wrong?”

Terry walked up to me, stared at me for a moment, and slowly wrapped his arms around me.

“Chris. Something just happened to me.”

“What?” I didn’t know if I should be concerned.

Terry waited, still holding me tight, and then tighter.

“I think I might have just killed myself.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Chris, that spider was... was me.”


Terry and I came out to the high school that morning.