When I was eight, one of my four cousins was already a teenager. She had the advantage and part of me I hated that. I think she could feel it. I think she thought I hated all of her. But I didn't. It wasn't hate it was fear.
Then "Bloody Mary" night happened.
We were having a pajama party at my aunt Belinda's house. She was my favorite aunt. She had silk nightgowns and fur slippers, just like in the movies. She'd entertain us with stories as we laid on her suburban living room floor. She couldn't have children, so she lavished us with attention when we there.
For some reason, the living room felt darker that night and I swear the hallway to the bathroom stretched further with her every word.
She said that Bloody Mary was a ghost lady who lived in mirrors and that she would haunt you in your dreams until you were brave enough to face her.
Deep into the suspense, my aunt leaned in, making quick shifts with her eyes to the left, to the right, and then to the hallway.
She leaned in further then dared us.
"Who wants to go see if Bloody Mary will appear tonight?"
Our wide eyes grew wider and none of us said a word.
Not even just-turned-thirteen Lani!
Not a word.
She squoze her sleeping bag just as tight as we did.
And I noticed.
My aunt switched to a softer story and eventually, all the girls fell asleep.
But, I couldn't. I couldn't get rid of the mirror.
See the mirror was my chance and the hallway was a path to significance. Just because Lani didn't lead the way, that didn't mean I couldn't.
Most people have their own "Lani" at home or at work and if Lani doesn't move..they don't move.
But something inside said, "you can do it."
Doing "it" would require quick action.
I'd have to tip-toe and zig-zag super quiet to get around each of the sleeping bodies. But, not even my racing elementary school heart could stop me.
In other words, you can be afraid, dear adults, and take action at the same time.
Alright alright Elle, just tell us what happened.
Well, I lept up and over safely, and then eased down the hall. I swear it felt like the darkness would never end.
(But even when it's dark you can keep going:)
Finally, I made it to the bathroom door and fortunately the shag carpet kept it from squeaking. I closed it super super slow behind me.
Eyes squinted, voice low, I began.
"Blo-ody Ma-ry, Blo-ody Ma-ry, Blood, Blood, Blo-ody Mary" I swear I said it five hundred times.
Alright, alright, Elle. And then what happened???
Well, you're reading my story so the obvious answer is...Bloody Mary was totally bluffing.
But, unlike my four cousins (especially Lani), I learned that our greatest fears are often rooted in superstition.
The TRUTH IS...
You don't have to wait for someone else to go first.
You don't have to wait for everyone around you to "wake up" and go with you.
And you don't have to have to see the whole path before you make a move.
So now, dear grown-ups...what are you waiting for