Times I’ve been legitimately terrified:
1) A mugging, in the company car, one night in D.C.
2) Domestic fights involving the throwing, the yelling.
3) An otherwise calm starry night, in Guatemala, the scorpion bite.
Four of us were about to head to sleep, after a long day of classes. We all lived in the same rental house, so we walked together, flashlights trained on the path ahead. Then a yelp – She looked at her ankle and said she’d been bitten by something, and when I looked down I saw the scorpion scuttle off into the underbrush. The next part I can only describe as panic. I can’t speak but she’s spun loose: “In a few minutes I won’t be able to breathe.” “Call my kids and tell them I love them.” Her son had been bitten by a scorpion in Mexico and almost died, the key won’t fit into the lock of our house, someone has sting medicine, no one has a phone, someone has a phone, a phone, calling our trip leaders, sending someone back to the workshop houses, ring, ring, ring,….
Helmut picks up my call and tells us that scorpion bites in Guatemala aren’t poisonous.
Relay this news.
Breathe. She wipes tears away, we hug her.
Then we bust out mugs from the kitchen and open three bottles of wine. And breathe.