Into the Pit

In the short story “The Pit and the Pendulum,” horror master Edgar Allen Poe spins a yarn about a man imprisoned during the Spanish Inquisition.  I won’t re-write the whole story here.  The part that serves my purpose is when the unlucky fellow finds himself strapped to a board in the middle of his cell.  Suspended above him, hanging from a picture of Father Time, is a giant pendulum that has been sharpened into a deadly scythe.  With each pass, it drops closer and closer to our helpless victim, its goal to cause him to spill his guts, in a very literal sense.  The sound of it torments him with each dreaded pass–will this be the one?


It may not be the best story every written, even by Poe, but it is stark and thrilling.  The senses are aroused.  When he first goes into his cell, he is in total blackness, and long story short, there is ALSO a big pit right in the middle of unknown depth and, as it turns out, unknown contents.  Here’s a spoiler–the guy does not want to fall into the pit.

But back to that pendulum thing.


Imagine being strapped there, helpless to move, knowing that with each passing moment, disaster is coming closer to cut you in half.  You are trapped–lost.

My little girl is having surgery tomorrow.  Not a heart transplant or anything like that, but major surgery just the same.


What I’m learning from this experience is that fear really has no  basis in reality.  Oh, don’t get me wrong–the feelings that come from being afraid of something are as real as it gets.  But the fear itself is a phantom, a black ghost that whispers through the recesses of your mind and imagination at odd times, like when you are laying quietly in the dark, hoping for sleep.  It murmurs unbearable thoughts into your ear when you aren’t expecting it, planting a seed which will, with the right care and tending, grow into a poisonous vine that twists around every thought.  It’s the fear of what if, the unknowable maybe, the surrender of our already delusional control.  Here’s the worst part: these fears aren’t for myself.  That, at least, would be tolerable.  But this isn’t.


When your personality tends to the extreme side, it’s no big deal.  A little too fearful, maybe.  A little too anxious.  A tiny bit obsessive and compulsive.  Nothing therapy-worthy, just material for a blog and a good laugh from time to time.  But when the gears are already slipping a little, real fear shows up, and all hell breaks loose.


I am terrified.  The surgery is tomorrow.  The pendulum is almost here, but here’s the crux–it isn’t swinging over me, but my sweet little girl.  And I’m stuck in one of those dreams where I can see the action happening, but am powerless to do anything to stop it.



This fear has pushed me to the limits of my sanity.  Yesterday, I was driving, and  I had to pull over on the side of the road.  There was an intersection ahead, both in reality and metaphorically speaking.  The fear was there with me, as it always is, a black, pulsating thing that doesn’t kill but only squeezes, tighter and tighter around my heart and my lungs and even my throat.  It squeezes so hard that tears sometimes leak down my face from eyes that look starey and strange to their owner.  I had a wonderful vision.  I took the other road, the road away from home.  My daughter was with me.  My van was full of gas.  We just had a payday.  I stopped and bought the few things we would need to get past the surgery date.  Then, we just drove. We drove southeast, headed for the sea.  My sweet little girl saw all of that water and jumped in her seat because she was so excited.  She loves the beach so much.  We held hands as we drew closer, and when we parked, I got her out and just squeezed and squeezed and squeezed her, and the fear was gone, because I had left it back in the mountains.  There was no pendulum down there, no pit, no darkness.  Just us.  Just me and my little girl, safe and sound.  My little girl whose hair always smells so nice, who puts her hand so trustingly in mine and just knows that I am never going to let anything bad happen to her.

My little girl.

Of course, what I really did was take the road that went home, just as I always do.  Because responsibility comes with a price, a high one.  Pray for us.  Pray for my little girl.



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2 Comments on "Into the Pit"

  1. Piper
    20/08/2013 at 1:56 pm Permalink

    I have never in my life subscribed to a blog. I found your today when I googled a movie quote and your post about having a head full of movie quotes came up. I laughed and kept clicking through posts, cracking up more at each one. I was hoping that I wouldn’t eventually come across something that alerted me to some great divide in our world views or perspectives which would inevitably make it hard to just put my feet up and relax whenever I pop in in the future. (so far so good.).

    And then I went to the home page and read this entry- the most current one. I was stunned by how immediately I felt The need to reach out across the web and just say, mother to mother, God be with you as she recovers from the surgery. I wish I had found you two days ago so I could pray for you beforehand. Take care. And thanks for your blog.

  2. The (not so) Special Mother
    26/08/2013 at 4:29 pm Permalink

    Wow, thanks!

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