I tried so hard to keep fear away from her. In the garden, I’d say, “See, honey, a worm,” and watch her pick it up, never showing the squeamishness that kept me from touching a worm myself.

We read stories of strong, brave women, who surmounted obstacles, forging ahead, not allowing fear to vanquish them. Overprotected Understood Betsy learned to stand on her own, and when she and little Molly were accidentally abandoned at the county fair, Betsy hid her fear. She promised Molly she would find a way home—and she did. In So Far form the Bamboo Grove, Yoko and her sister survived horrifying war privations and subsistence conditions before being reunited with their family.

When my daughter went to college in 2002, with the ashes of the Twin Towers still nearly visible, we walked up the Harlem hill, through the wrought iron gate into the university that had welcomed immigrants. Then we walked down the hill to the Hudson River.

“Which way is home?” I asked. She pointed north,.

“Right,” I told her. “The river goes home, If anything happens, try to get a ride north, as far as you can if you can’t get all the way.  Route 9, Broadway here, goes all the way to Saratoga. You can follow Route 9 home. If you can’t go by road, follow the river. It will take a long time, weeks, maybe longer, but the Hudson will bring you home.”

She listened, nodding silently but confidently, secure in her strength, in her wood skills, in her ability to find my love waiting for her whatever happened, where ever she went, secure in the shining innocence of youth.

I left her and drove home listening to the rattling chains of fear traveling with me.


by Jane Arnold


Jane Arnold has been writing and publishing nonfiction essays and memoir for over 25 years. During the past five years, she has been writing and publishing fiction, including flash fiction and short stories. She teaches writing and literature at a community college.


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