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He kills me every night

I was on a date with a guy I’d met online. Over tapas and wine, I told him I was a fashion executive who had her MBA, that I was not religious and that I had a teeny-tiny PlayStation addiction. He said he loved horror movies and held up two tickets to the multiplex’s current screamfest as if we’d won the lottery.

I stiffened and silently debated whether or not to tell him my secret.

“You don’t like horror?” he asked, his smile wilting in my silence.

I remembered reading that you should never talk about mental health issues on the first date. “I get really scared,” I said, which was easier than telling him the real story: I watched my mother die when I was a kid, and now I live my life avoiding things that trigger that memory and the severe anxiety that comes with it.

“That’s cute,” he said, but he raised a brow and gave me that look: You’re a 30-something woman. Grow up. 

So I decided to go with him. I told myself it was just a movie. But I spent the entire film looking away from the screen, darting my eyes from ceiling to floor and wincing every time I heard that shrill, piercing scream that reminded me of my mother’s.

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