Good fiction should cause an emotive response. A master storyteller can make the reader feel any emotion through their words; Severus Snape can make you cry, Anne Shirley can make you laugh and Ignatius J Reilly can make you throw up a little in your mouth.
There are those authors and stories, that produce not only an emotional reaction, however, but true emotional scarring. Every reader has at least one story, one scene that has haunted them long after the book was finished (and stored safely in the freezer). War of the Worlds, The Shining, Sophie’s Choice, stories that are so superbly written that their readers are positively traumatized.
For me, it was the shortest of stories that left the largest of neuroses. Many of Daphne Du Maurier’s stories have held me spellbound, rapt in nervous anticipation, but it was her most famous short story that did me in. It was a dark and blustery night in the townhouse where I lived by myself before Ryan and I were married. The crepe myrtle trees scratched at the window as I read The Birds. Like a moron. I did not sleep that night and I don’t believe I slept the next night either. The idea of birds turning sentient intending to take back the control of nature from man was haunting. Never was a bird’s beak so sharp or eyes so evil than after I read The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier. Close proximity to a bird still causes a physical reaction of panic: my body goes rigid, my heart palpitates and I hold my breath until I can be reasonably sure my time has not yet come to be pecked to death by a pigeon.
That being known, I don’t think enough credit has been given to me on how well I’ve done with the free ranging chickens in my backyard. I haven’t once freaked out, not even when one waddled really close by me. When the avian apocalypse does occur, I hope the chickens will remember how friendly we’ve been.
But then yesterday I saw one of them fly and I lost my shit.
I didn’t know if she was mounting an uprising or if the others would follow suit, but I ran like a bat out of hell just the same. I went into the house hoping the windows would hold out if this really was the beginning of an insurrection. I haven’t been outside since.
All of this to say, thank you Daphne Du Maurier for making homesteading such an emotional journey for me. It would be easier to “go green” if I didn’t have to face my [completely rational] fears head on every time I go to check the mail. But that’s what good writing does, I suppose.
Have you read anything that has made a lasting impression? Is your daily life affected by a story you’ve read?