What Scares You?


     Trees frighten me.

     Let me clarify this: old New England trees scare me. There is something I find to be undeniably sinister about them. I see them as both cheerless and deadly. Tree worship is neither difficult to understand nor is it implausible to me.

     I can see elder gods and ancient spirits in the twisted branches and gnarled trunks of apple trees, in the swaying, whip-like branches of the weeping willows, and in the long, drooping boughs of evergreens.

     These trees are waiting for me to commit some sacrilege, to forget to show obeisance or to commit some other transgression – real or imagined.

     When people speak to me of their fondness for nature, of the desire they have to go hiking or camping, I can only nod politely while I hide my own shrieking horror. I know that the trees are waiting for me to stroll carelessly near them, or to fall asleep close to their roots.

     Yes, I say, the reason I wish to remain out of the woods is to avoid bears and mountain lions.

     But the truth is simpler and rooted in a far more primal seat.

     I know the old gods are in the trees, and they wait, as they wait for everything – patiently, and with the sure, terrifying knowledge that they will outlast me.

     When I write my stories and work on my scenes, I tap into this fear. I use it to propel myself along lines of thought I would much rather not travel, and I hope I use it well enough to frighten my readers.

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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