The B-word

Junior shares distaste for blood


Photo by Savannah York

Story by Grace Hickey, staff writer

I am 4 years old, and I am running. The chilling screams that seem to grow more piercing with every bound I take away from them are clawing their way out of my best friend’s mouth.

She has just fallen off her training wheelless Barbie bike onto the concrete, and she needs help.

But so do I.

It is not the pained expression on her freckled face that sends me in a mad dash for my parents. It is the dark red goo seeping out of her knee that somehow managed to stir up the grilled cheese in my stomach and steal all the air from my lungs.

Suddenly, a large pair of hairy arms envelopes me as my dad tries to decipher the story through my sobs and carries me back toward the scene of the crime.

But I do not want to go back.

I remember the rust-and-salt stench of the crimson river gushing out of her leg, and then everything is black.

I am what one would call hemophobic, which means that I have a fear of blood–a word that took me 13 years to utter without having the sudden urge to pass out. With that being said, my version of “the b-word” has always differentiated from the average teenager’s.

Other kids growing up were scared of the dark or vegetables–external threats. But I carried my terrorizer with me everywhere I went. There was no escaping something you were made up of.

As a child, I tried not to let “the b-word” get in the way of my ability to be a normal kid, doing things that a normal kid would do. But the constant fear of a turning Harry Potter page slicing my wrists open (yes, this was a legitimate concern, not just a melodramatic tangent) limited me.

My friends would find out about my phobia, and, because they had never heard of someone being hemophobic, they would often make fun of it, labelling me a “faker” and calling out “the b-word” repeatedly in front of me just to see my reaction. They did not know how much their playful harrassments affected me–I was just deemed “overly dramatic.”

Eventually, I got tired of the restrictions I felt living in a crimson shadow and decided to overcome my fear by plunging deep into it and auditioning for the fall play, Dracula. I was petrified when I was informed that we would indeed be using an unholy amount of “the b-word” (fake, of course) and felt the need to fully desensitize myself in the only way I knew possible– having the thing I feared most siphoned from my body via plastic tube.

This, however, lead to the temporary loss of my consciousness and made me even more wary of “the b-word.”

Needless to say, I was still determined to defeat my fear-induced mental paralysis and sought to overcome my fear by donating a second time. This time went slightly better and, paired with the completion of my role in Dracula, I started to see some real progress in my journey.
Although I still get queasy when I get a paper cut, and the occasional taunts of my friends still startle me, I’m improving when it comes to facing “the b-word” and hopefully will one day be able to actually say “blood” in normal conversation.