Understanding Fear by Richard Norway

by Richard Norway


The morning sunlight was still too weak to light up much of Kevin’s bedroom, but it didn’t matter to him. He was awake and had been staring at the blank ceiling for over an hour. He had made up his mind last week but now that the day had arrived, he felt numb. It was that numbness that comes over you when you’ve planned and rehearsed and there’s nothing else to do but do it. Each time he felt this way the fear would also return. The fear that he had lived with for so many years had become so debilitating that his own existence was at stake. He had chosen this day, a Saturday, to end it, because he had no school today, and his mom and dad would both be home.

He thought back. Scenes formed on the white motion picture screen that was the ceiling to remind him of how he had gotten to this day. He closed his eyes.


“BANG!” The locker door crashed with such a fury that Kevin thought his ears would burst. At the same instant, his whole body shook as the fear rose to meet him face to face.

“Didn’t I tell you to keep away from me?”

Dazed by the violence of the sounds around him, Kevin jabbed his feet into the floor to propel himself backwards until his back hit the lockers, crashing out a sound almost as frightening as the one Mark had made in slamming his locker door shut. The fear gripped at his soul. He’d been beaten before, and he knew he could take the blows. It wasn’t the pain, but rather the humiliation burning inside of himself that he feared the most. He felt the eyes of all 875 kids torturing him as Mark turned and walked away leaving Kevin feeling helpless. ‘Why did he continue to allow this to happen?’ he asked himself.

“No way. No more.”

Present time

His eyes focused on the bathroom door on the far wall of his bedroom. It was beckoning him. It was time to move. Slowly one leg moved out from under the sheet followed by the other. He sat for a second and then stood on both feet. He moved in a daze to the bathroom to get himself ready for this day.

He turned on the hot water of the shower and adjusted the cold to keep the mixed water as warm as he could stand it. He’d always loved to stand under the streams of warmth and wash all the fears off him. He closed his eyes.


“Kevin. What’s the matter man?”

He knew who was speaking but didn’t see Kelly at first. He turned completely around to find Kelly, but all he saw was a herd of kids trampling the hall on their way to their next class. Finally Kelly emerged from the herd and stood looking up at him.

“Not now Kelly. Please. I’ve got to get to class,” was all he could say. He saw the hurt in her eyes as Kelly slowly turned and became one with the flow of human traffic.

‘Kevin. You are such an asshole. Of all people, you know that Kelly would be behind you, no matter what. Why can’t you have the courage to talk to her? She’d understand.‘ He wanted to run away and hide his shame. He needed some air. Just as he was about to turn and bolt for the door, he again, giving in to the beast within him, closed his locker door and joined the sea on the way to his next class.

Present time

Kevin felt the water turn colder. How long he’d been standing there, he didn’t know. He told himself that he’d better get himself moving or else his fears would stop him. The shampoo and soap would help keep his mind off of it. If he thought too much, he knew that he’d lie to himself again.

‘Why am I afraid to face it? Really, I’m just like everyone else. I breath. I learn. I feel pain and joy. I want to find a place for myself in this world just like everyone else. Today I'm going to be a man. Today I will be afraid, but if I let the fear get to me, I will be nothing.’

Kevin stepped from the shower and dried himself.


"Hey man."

"Hey dude. What's up?" Kevin answered as he put his books back into his locker getting ready to go home.

"Not much. Steve and I are going to go hang at the mall and maybe catch a movie later. Wanna come?"

Kevin looked at Bryan for a moment wondering how to say no. He liked Bryan, but today he wanted to be alone.

“I don’t think so, man."

“Why not?"

“I just don’t feel like it, okay?”

“Hey. It’ll be good for you to get out and around people.”

“Look Bryan. Leave me alone will you? Just go do your own thing.” Kevin slammed his locker shut and turned to leave.

“Okay, okay, man. Don’t bite my head off.”

As Bryan turned and walked away, Kevin felt the churning in his stomach begin. He knew why he didn’t want to go to the mall with Steve and Bryan, but he couldn’t tell them the truth. Lying was such a part of him that the truth had no life anymore, no existence. His disgust for himself crept over him like molten lava running unstoppable over the landscape.

‘Why do we hurt the ones we love the most?’ he asked himself. Fear is not just a lack of courage. Fear exists unto itself. It lives and it hurts. He hated what he had become.

Present time

Dressing quickly, Kevin went back to the bathroom to comb his hair. There in the mirror, that unrecognizable person that didn’t exist until a week ago, stared back at him. Kevin smiled and the man in the mirror smiled back. He knew then that it would be all right.

Kevin boldly turned and left the solitude and protection of his closed bedroom and headed downstairs. For today… this day… this was the day that would change his life forever. He headed downstairs to tell his mother and father that he was gay.