Making Friends With Mr Fear

by Guy Ware

They sat side-by-side on the low padded seats of the gallery café, legs crossed towards each other, his left and her right elbows on the backs of their seats, heads propped against their hands.

He said, “I said to her, you must ignore Mr Fear.”

He said, “A couple of weeks later, I thought, Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Fear is the nasty, smelly kid at school who wants to be your friend and follows you around when you tell him to go away and throw rocks at him. So you take to him, you make friends with him, but maybe you tell him he’s got to wash his face first.”

He said, “You two are very similar. Beautiful women who had a terrible time with men, as beautiful women always do.”

He said, “I’ve loved you for ever but our love never needed stating. I state it now, because now it’s right. You know I had you, your photograph with Raphael, by my bed all the time I was in hospital. It was important to me, to know the boy was with you. It was like a Madonna and Child, that photo.”

She said nothing, then.

Then he said, “You must befriend your fear – actively befriend him. Seriously. The more you listen to Mr Fear, the more you respect him, he becomes your friend. You know, he’s the guy who stops you putting your fingers in the fire, who stops you sticking a knife in a stranger’s heart.”

She said something like, “You’re right”, or maybe, “That’s so true.”

He said, “I think it’s very significant you are seeing me at this point. I mean, we’ve seen each other for – what? – maybe two weeks in six years. But we’ve been spiritually very connected from the very first time and we have amazing communication. We can say anything. We got through so much in those three days in Scotland. It was amazing. We can say anything.”

She said nothing, and he said, “I say nothing. You will notice I say nothing about the fact you’re smoking again. You know why? Because it won’t make any difference. And did you notice I said nothing about your accent? You know why? Because there’s nothing to say.”

She said something, then.

He called her a shit; and he said: “If I’m calling you a shit it’s because I’m a shit. Because I know the shit in me, so I project it on to you. There are very few people who can talk to other people and really care about them more than they care about themselves.”

She began to tell him about a dream she’d had, and he said, “This is really interesting, I’m glad you’re telling me this now. I had that dream myself three weeks ago. It started like yours, but went much further. You were in it, but I broke through.”

He talked some more, and then he said, “It’s fantastic that we can talk like this. About anything. It’s so unusual, so special to be able to really communicate. We’re not afraid.”

Then, after a while, they left, and he was unafraid.

Guy Ware is a recovering civil servant. His debut collection, Witness Protection, will be published by Comma Press in 2010.

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