I have h-phobia, which is a fear of long words. Its' a real fear, I swear. I fainted the first time I saw it, and every time I see it now my heart beats fast, I can't breathe , I start having cold sweats. In other words, long words scare me senseless.

My problem is mostly with seeing the words. The sheer amount of space they take up on the page stops me cold. I tremble, I want to hide, but I can't. The mere thought of sounding out the word makes me sweat.

See, my mom wanted a genius kid, and when I wasn't learning quite as fast as she wanted me to in school, she gave me "extra tutoring" at home. She would have me read aloud, and every time I stumbled over a word, she's slap me, lightly at first, and then harder as I made more mistakes. The point was to make me associate getting things wrong with pain, but really it made me associate pain with those long words. Eventually it grew from slaps to burns, or cuts from her kitchen knives.

"This is all to help you," She'd say. "To make you smarter, better than the other kids."

And I believed her. I was a kid, with complete faith in my parents. Well, parent. My dad was always off on "business trips" with his secretary. Whenever he was home, mom would make sure I wore long sleeved shirts so that once I grew old enough, good enough, we'd be able to unveil my literary, quick-learning genius.

That was the plan anyways. It was all ruined when dad came home early. He caught us in the middle of another lesson. We were reading "Redwall," which was totally appropriate for a young, kindergarten-age genius like me. I don't remember if it actually was.

Anyways, once dad saw mom's kitchen knife and lighters, he had the shit scared out of him. Not really of course, but you know what I mean. He was a smart man though. He pretended that he totally believed her and agreed with her, but that that was enough reading for one day, since he was home. After I pulled my shirtsleeves back down and mom started cooking dinner, he left the room.

Ten minutes later, the cops came in and took mom away. Dad divorced mom, and she was sent away somewhere. I dont' know where. I don't care where.

Either way, it was too late. I was already scarred both on the inside and the outside. And even if mom's not around to make things worse, some days are still worse than others. The other day I lost "understanding" and "tolerance", but learned to get it and deal with it instead. But most of all, on those bad days not only do the big words scare me, but I'm also scared of what comes next. What if my fear gets stronger, and I can only read little words? What if some day I can only take the one s-word words, like "it", or "that", or "who?" or "what?"

What if someday I even lose those?

The End

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