Once Fear went on holiday. Just packed up and headed out one fine morning for parts unknown. Those who’d been the familiars of Fear were stunned at this uncharacteristic move. After all the time they’d spent in its company, how could Fear just leave them like this, without warning or farewell? How were they to get on with their lives in its absence? What would a day without Fear be? Missing-Fear reports soon appeared in print and electronic media across the nation as well as on power poles in many a neighborhood, but to no avail. The longer its whereabouts went unaccounted for, the deeper the public uneasiness became. People had grown so accustomed to its presence in their lives. Fear of danger and failure and rejection, of course, but equally of success and responsibility. Fear of strangers, but of one’s neighbor as well. Fear of the rich and powerful and fear of the homeless. Fear of the immigrant and fear of the nativist. Fear of science’s challenges to religion and of religious zealotry. Fear of the known as much as the unknown. Fear, in sum, as the one constant in life as people had come to know it. Fear had never let the nation down, at least not until now. People’s entire existence might suddenly have to be rethought and all the old certainties be abandoned. But new alarms and suspicions could take time to develop, to say nothing of how long it might be before they became second nature to one and all. The absence of Fear wasn’t just inconvenient, therefore; it was a personal and public calamity. So when Fear returned unannounced one fine day, the rejoicing was boundless. Multitudes danced in the streets. No explanation for Fear’s absence was offered and none was asked. Who would be so foolish as to risk driving Fear away again with awkward questions? Grand parades were organized everywhere, complete with marching bands and banners that read “Welcome Home Fear!” And keys to city after city were handed over to Fear again with all the usual fanfare. Everyone breathed a deep sigh of relief now that life was returning to normal.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans