I was a scary kid. No, I wasn’t a biter, a hitter, or a thief. I never got detention. I was all straight As and gold star good behavior stickers on the classroom wall, running to hand my mother an armful of cardstock certificates at the end of every awards ceremony. Perfect attendance. Top reader. Best project. I was scary in an intense, maniacal sort of way. I gave up Disney Channel laugh tracks for horror films way too young for my own good. Barely 8 years old, rated R—but that’s not a reflection of their parenting. I could handle it— fascinated by Hannibal Lecter’s deliberate way of speaking, the properties of fake, oozing blood and the antiquated charm of the Overlook Hotel before Jack Torrance tried to REDRUM his wife and son through the bathroom door with an axe. I was a real sucker for anything that could make my heart race. Good Catholic girls didn’t watch The Exorcist but I did anyway because at the time I was a real fan of anything that could psychologically disturb me for a night. I memorized the tropes with the passion of a madman: found footage, serial killer boyfriend, vengeful spirit lurking around a remote lake house ransacked by a band of reckless adolescents for a weekend of innocent (enough) fun. Spoiler alert: they always die. But there’s usually someone who lives to tell the tale, bloodsoaked and trembling in the headlights. Some sort of human deer in shock.

In the movie of my life, I am that character.

Something happens when you’re born strong and capable with a little bit too much genius to cram inside your skin. I was already twists and turns ahead of myself from the beginning and that was exactly the reason why I began to haunt my own body. I fell into my own plothole. There was no more need for cinema. I didn’t have to rely on the thrill of a poltergeist or a dug-up grave or a backseat murderer hiding behind the driver. I had both hands firm on the wheel yet wanted nothing other than to crash.

Good Catholic girls don’t choose to crash. They park and get out and pray. Most deer run away, too. It somehow kicks in at the very last moment and they bolt as if they were never there to begin with. We save ourselves by admitting that we were never the possessed porcelain dolls, the evil clowns, or the risen dead. We’re just scary kids. Scared kids. Scared and scary kids who are brilliant enough to direct their own final scene before the screen fades to black, who can choose their own endings. I chose mine.

Get out of the driver’s seat and handle it.

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