Pushing back the boundaries of fear

It’s the empty beds that hurt the most.

You pass by them and you hope that one night again they will be filled, that there will be a shape under the duvet, a shock of darkness on the pillow.

Each time you see the empty beds, you are reminded that here they lay, safe; here they incubate in the decade or so before they are exposed to the greater world, to the dangers that lie outside, to the many, many, wonders that lie outside.

Here, in the bedroom, under the posters of their idols on the walls, under the watchful eyes of Ariana and Justin and Harry and Little Mix, they form the opinions that make them appreciate music, song, stardom, attraction, love and heartbreak.

Here they shape their own view of the world.

Here, they are safe.

And here, long after they are gone, is where they will most be missed.

Bedrooms remain shrines to people who leave long before they should. It is as if they are frozen in time, their likes and dislikes of the former occupants shaping the layout of the room, more than any other.

In many bedrooms across the north of England this time last week, young kids were shifting excitedly at the thought of Monday night and seeing Ariana Grande.

Christmas present tickets will have been monitored and felt and caressed every day for five months, every hour counted down, the outfit chosen, the merchandise ordered, the only cringing thought being that parents may have to accompany them.

And for the parents and adults who gifted these tickets, there is the all too-fleeting excitement of seeing your young child learn the maxim that anticipation is half the pleasure in the build up to an event like this.

But now those rooms are empty, permanent shrines to what might have beens. Memorials to those who never got the chance to live beyond this week.

We all accept the chance of death. Every time we drive, we accept that something may plough into us. Or us into something else. Every time we fly, we accept there is a chance we won’t make a destination. Small chances, but still they are a chance we take.

In an adult world, there are many ways to lose your life, as we tend to populate those areas where death is more frequent, the roadways, the waterways, the skyways, the hospital wards.

But then there are many places where we feel secure, in our homes, our beds.

In a child’s world, the dangers to mortality exist on roadways and in waterways and in freakish accidents.

Not at music concerts.

At 10.30 on Monday night, when those excited children and teenagers set out to meet excited parents and grandparents as they made to start their journey from the stardom of seeing Ariana to the everyday reality of lives, they would have passed through that foyer.

For one fleeting second these little angels came face to face with their attacker. He would have known what devastation he was going to cause. He would have seen them rush to buy merchandise that he knew they would never get to wear or hear.

He knew all this, and yet, he pushed that detonator.

Sometimes pure evil is just too deluded to try to understand.

There are lots of glossy quotes about overcoming terror this week. But let’s be real, it will not be overcome.

As long as people know how to instil fear, they will.

It has devastated families who will never recover.

And when the door closes, all will go dark in those quiet, silent bedrooms, shrines to angels who never got to leave them properly.


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