I wasn’t the smartest boy in the household by a longshot.
I knew of wandering the graveyard that it’s best met with an onslaught
of something called shudders.
It’s when your body trembles and your heart skips, sputters,
and you mutter counter-evils, and you grip on to your charms.
I’ve never comprehended the alarm
caused by things described variously as scary,
terrifying, ghastly. Could I follow this? Barely.
Certainly never felt it. Never shuddered, and my pops
sent me packing, called me bad luck kid, head full of rocks.
I talked so loudly of my ignorance as I roamed,
complained I couldn’t get frightened, and might have bemoaned
that I’d been disowned. A friendly hangman beckoned
but I partied with his danglers, didn’t shudder for a second.
Then I heard about a castle in the distance that was haunted.
Nobody lasted there an evening. Could it be just what I wanted? Didn’t know.
there was anything
in the world
to be frightened of
I wasn’t the first one to show up claiming bravery.
The rumored ends of my predecessors were unsavory.
They’d become the catering at a feast of ghouls and spirits!
Neither the king nor his people would set foot near it.
This seemed good; fear, it glistened in their eyes as they spoke.
I figured I could pick the habit up and go
(maybe all the way back home, having understood shuddering).
Did the townspeople deem me a simpleton? Utterly.
What a first night it was, too! The hellbeasts
were like from a nightmare. I think? I don’t get bad dreams.
I tried to nap but the furniture floated and spun.
We did some doughnuts in the stable yard! Fun.
The second night’s vigilance wasn’t any more fruitful:
zombies down the chimney till the whole rec room’s full.
All-bone nine-pin, glad I brought my lathe.
Though I lost some money gambling, my denseness was unscathed.
Third and final evening, my reanimated corpse
cuddle-buddy tried to strangle me. Reliable sources
report that I chucked him back in his coffin and sighed,
despaired of finding shudders locally and set to stride.
Didn’t I want my reward? The hand of the castle’s princess?
A path to power and riches, and this is its ingress?
And this is my dimness, I guess, but I choose to keep questing:
find the next hypothesis of scariness and keep testing.
But here’s that princess requesting that I reconsider.
And as I spy her she reminds me of my babysitter,
a village girl I had a crush on as a lad,
who never even noticed that I couldn’t make eye contact.
This one’s staring me down.
She’s used to getting her way, been wearing a crown.
Is she scaring me now, with her “think about it, please?”
I got this odd involuntary shaking in my knees.