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Heads Will Roll MAG
I found myself staring at it in the beginning of the period. As one of the earliest people to arrive to my second hour class, I saw it as soon as I walked through the door.
There seemed to be a skull on the board. It was a skull, actually, and I told myself it didn’t bother me. At first, it didn’t. But I couldn’t stop staring at the dessicated, decapitated head that looked increasingly fleshy and rotten in my eyes. It was disgusting. I couldn’t stop looking at it. All the while, my memory was working to memorize the image that was producing so much trauma.
Later in the period, the SmartBoard above it was playing a film clip that our class needed to watch. I ended up having to use my hand to cover up the burning image below it. And whenever my tired arm began to sink, I would flinch as the edges of the head came into view.
I kept my head down until I was sure that the PowerPoint had changed to something else; by the end of the period I was tired and humiliated.
Not all instances are like this. There was a time I was scrolling through Pinterest late at night, and the look alike of the “boy king” Pharaoh Tutankhamen came up.
I stared at the young man, shot next to a head bust of his ancient doppelganger. King Tut’s sculpture was so poorly restored that half of his face was shifted upwards compared to the other half. The signature Egyptian guyliner framed the simple eyes, and before I had realized it, I had been staring at the picture too long, and could now see it wherever I looked, even if I closed my eyes.
I looked up from my phone, smugly warm in my hand, and could only see the shadows in my room. The indistinct shapes drifting around my room only helped to constrict the tight area around my chest. Then I put the dumb phone down and ran to my mom’s room.
After breathlessly describing to what had happened, I had reassured my mom a couple of times that I was fine. I went back to my room.
Some music would calm me down. My nerves were so frazzled that I might have even seemed excited to an outside eye. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen, and I wasn’t even thinking with words. Fear had replaced the nutrients in my blood. I chose the first song on my playlist and put in earbuds.
A picture of Marina and the Diamonds came up to accommodate the audio. And for a moment, she looked just like the infamous Egyptian prince, rich black kohl lining her eyes, her portrait so bright that her white skin was featureless.
I began to breathe harder, and chose the next song, and quickly turned off my phone to cancel out any visual input. I couldn’t breathe, and the lilting guitar and vocals from my right earbud seemed familiar.
At the same time, something was off. The music seemed to be moving faster, soon entirely too fast, without any rhythm, and horrifyingly out of control. Kina Grannis and Daniela Andrade had never sounded like that before. I loved their little acoustic duet.
I ripped the piece of plastic out of my ear and began to turn round and round, because something had occurred to me. There was something behind me. I kept turning, and I saw nothing behind me, and had to turn again to make sure the same was for the other side that I had been facing a couple of minutes before. I was convinced something was going to fall on me from behind. A dead body, and it was going to hit me from behind.
And as I spun around in my room, probably looking as demented as I was, I began to break down. I was furious. I was furious, and terrified, crying tears that were angry and sad, but mostly furious that I wasn’t even 18 years old and a writer and a musician and somebody, somebody quiet but sometimes bold, somebody who mattered to her friends and family, and to herself, and yet I seemed to be losing it. Pinned down by an outbreak of phobia, I had become so sensitive that my favorite artists were making me panic.
I looked up, and the familiar violin case I had been hauling to my bus stop for the last three years looked like it contained a body. The covers on my bed looked like they were hiding something, probably a body as well. And the shadows in my room continued to dance.
I fled to my mom’s room again. I remember actually worrying I wouldn’t last as long as it took me to run through the hallway.
And when I got to my mom’s room, blubbering and incoherent, I suddenly felt enormously humiliated that I had returned to her room in no time, and in tears. Instead of confessing outright what had happened, I asked her to tell me something I could think about. Anything but what I was thinking about right now, something that was scaring the living daylights out of me.
Later, I would look over these episodes with a startling lack of empathy. What I remembered--and what my imagination seemed to have conjured up--seemed too pathetically horrible to be true.
I didn’t know a soul on earth who acted like this. I still don’t.
Every day, I am increasingly aware that I live with pharaohphobia, or the fear of mummies; dead human things in general. And I thought I was going to feel a bit better about myself after I wrote “THH: I v. Mummified Egyptian Royalty” a year ago in 2014, a melodramatic biopic about realizing I had a phobia. The article certainly succeeded in sending my self-pity levels sky high, although I was impressed I had managed to write that much in the first place.
And while I would like to think writing that article has changed me, it seems I remain at the whims of the web for peace of mind. I see a disgusting image and reduce myself to pieces. And if the image itself isn’t enough, then the imagination to which I owe my writing talents does the rest. It can stay with me for days.
I don’t know what to do, other than to stop thinking about it. That hasn’t worked. After all, my daytime ego seems to be suffering considerably less. Whenever I’m outside the killzone, which is most of the time, lamemting my lack of a social life seems to keep me plenty busy.
The fear does not control me, but sometimes I feel like I can’t control it, either. And that really scares me.