I dangled forty feet in the air. My toes, my body–more than half my weight–leaned beyond a thin platform. I tried to hold the steel bar that dragged me away from the platform. Sweat seeped from my skin and rolled beneath my clothes as I swallowed my longing to scream. Only a woman half my size, her hand gripping my waistband kept me from falling. The trapeze artist’s job, along with the two safety bands, was to keep me from falling. I just needed to trust her.
In that moment, I realized the truth: I have trust issues with a bit of need to control tossed in.
I don’t trust anyone, not even myself when walking along a sidewalk. I try to control everything around me. Why would I trust a stranger? I don’t rely on others. I barely trust me much less strangers, friends, and family because I can’t control their success and failure, but I had to release my control to the trapeze artist.
I wouldn’t die. The trapeze artist preventing my plummet had held dozens of people by the waistband before. The safety harness would hold me. I needed to trust my expert.
That’s probably why I enjoy paranormal stories.
To a person with control and trust issues, witches are fortunate characters. Witches have more control over their lives than other people. Live in a bad neighborhood? They surround their homes and possessions with wards. Frizzy hair? Blemish? A quick spell can smooth those wild locks and hide that mountainous blemish. An untrustworthy significant other? That’s what truth spells are for.
Witches have an enviable power to control and reshape their lives.
Shifters also earn my envy. While witches are about controlling the world around them, shifters trust because they control each other. These man-beasts know what to expect from life. They know they can trust each other. Obey the alpha and the beta. Find your mate. Respect your male and female. It’s all about trusting the pack to be loyal, respecting the alpha and beta—the strongest and hopefully smartest of the pack—to be smart and honorable, and accepting the chain of command. It’s easy to trust and release control when everyone knows and follows those rules. When a pack functions properly—which rarely seems to happen in a shifter-focused story—pack member loyalty and trust are automatic.
Even vampires are the quintessence of trust and control issues as they control the two things people most fear and long to control—aging and dying. Sure, they’re powerful and beautiful–according to most recent storytellers. A regular supply of blood ensures eternal beauty and youth. And a snack is more efficient than any spell or charm that can be lost, broken, or damaged.
Unfortunately, paranormal power is not that simple . . . at least in paranormal fiction.
Sure, the typical paranormal must adhere to some council’s rules or a special paranormal government. Applying too much magical influence or subverting free will is frown-worthy. These regulations don’t worry me since I have no plans to take over the world. I want to control my day-to-day existence—and the objects within them.
In fiction, I can’t trust my pack because some of those shifters bully weaker pack members. Someone always desires what the alpha, and occasionally the beta, has, so that loyalty becomes questionable. So trust and control tend to slip in shifter tales.
Those issues are frustrating in witchy tales as many minor magical issues are resolved easily, but the bigger troubles—car trouble, job loss, and cheating partners—still plague a controlling witch. And heaven forbid, the fictional magical world limits the amount and type of magic a witch can wield.
Only the withdrawn, power-hungry vampires avoid these pitfalls. They maintain their control over youth and beauty and never trust anyone. But those were never my issues.
Paranormal fiction won’t fix me.
So I guess I’ll squeeze my eyes tight, slow my puffing, panting breaths, and scream loud and long as the trapeze artist releases her hold on my waistband.