I always thought as a child, that somehow, growing bigger would make me less afraid of things grabbing me in dark stairwells. I realize how wrong I was, running up to my apartment in a one-sided game of tag with the devil. I get to the door, through it. Locked.

I take a panicked sigh of relief. I catch my breath.

“We live on the second floor.”

I turn. N is standing there, watching me, tea in hand.

“So?” I say, defensive.

“You need to quit smoking.”

I glare at him, “well you’re drinking tea at one in the morning.”


“So,” I look around, evening my breath, “so, no one is perfect!”

He smiles, “Mhm.”

I start taking off my boots, coughing. “Look, I just–” I look back at the devil behind the door. “Right,” I decide, “fine, soon.”

N drinks his tea in response. I get my boots off.

“So?” he asks, motioning to the other room.

“Yeah, coming.”

I follow him into my room.

“You rearranged,” he notes, “again?”

“It’s a habit. I used to do it when I was a kid and couldn’t sleep. Drove my brother nuts.”

N walks to where his cigarettes sit on the windowsill. He slips one out.

“Given up on quitting?” I ask.

He frowns. “No, these are yours.”

I look at them. “Uh-huh. So I smoke lights now?”

“Apparently,” he says, lighting the cigarette.

I pull my own from my pocket, reds. We sit by the window. There is a bistro across the street, a mart beside it; bar beside them. A man stumbles past, he looks behind him periodically as he goes.

“Are you still afraid of anything from when you were a kid?” I ask.

N watches the stumbling man fade from view.

“You mean like tall people?”

I shrug. “Maybe. I mean like, being afraid of the dark.”

N doesn’t laugh. He looks up, it isn’t that dark. The sun will be back out in an hour.

“People,” he says.



“Like crowds?”

He shakes his head. “Just, people.”

“Like, people in the dark?” I ask, hopeful.

N watches another man pass. A more determined man. He sighs.

“No. Just people.”

A Writer and an artist living in Russia

14 Comment on “Diet Anthropophobia

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