Frozen in Fear - by Susan Giles - Paul stands outside the door, frozen in fear. His nightly dreams have held excitement, drama, fulfillment, but never this fear. There has never even been a Halloween which brought such fear. When his friends scoffed at him - “You’ll never last an hour!” “You’ll never even make it through the door!” - Paul persisted.

The wind outside whips angrily around the building, moaning in solidarity with Paul’s feelings. The sun hides behind clouds, as a frightened child reluctantly disappears behind the back of a glowering parent.

Dark and gloom hold sway over all, the heaviness reflecting the heaviness of Paul’s heart.

His senses begin to overwhelm him. The sounds from behind the door - screeching, high-pitched, unearthly sounds, permeate his brain until his very being is chilled. The odors - not exactly offensive, yet reminiscent of long-buried childhood memories - assail him. Paul can taste fear on his tongue as his eyesight tries unsuccessfully to assure normalcy.

Nothing here is normal.

He knows in his heart that completing this task will not only raise his standing in his friends’ eyes but will bring him one step closer to conquering all other fears. If he can just do this . . .

Taking a deep breath, Paul places his sweaty, trembling hand on the doorknob, opens the door and tentatively enters the room.

“Good morning, students. Welcome to your first day of Middle School.”

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Susan, I love how your words build up a real sense of fear and anxiety through the five senses. I was actually holding my breath expecting a horrible monster on the other side of the door. You really surprised me in your final sentence- great twist.

Hello Susan! Your “Frozen in Fear” is one of my favorites from the old It’s even better with your voice. Was this by any chance based on all your years of teaching youngsters?

Since I teach one-on-one, I normally don’t have that scary experience. However, one year I was composer-in-residence at a middle school, where I worked with the 7th and 8th grade orchestras to write their own piece. I can identify with the descriptions in your story - especially the unearthly sounds coming from the other side of the closed door!!

Hello, Susan. It was a fascinating story with a great twist in the end. And I do love it more with your voice.

Julie, I’m glad you enjoyed my story, “Frozen in Fear”. Although not specifically based on my own experiences, it does typify what most teachers have felt on the first day of school. Now to try to imagine the student’s version of the same day!

Thank you, Margarida, for your comments. This was originally written trying to incorporate all the senses. When I taught elementary school writing, I stressed the importance of totally enveloping the reader in the story and that this was best done by utilizing all the senses. I’m glad you enjoyed it.