Confronting Darkness: Watching Fire Walk with Me for the First Time by Melissa Brooks

New Line Cinema (c) 2017

It was late at night in a lamp-less room. Un-curtained windows looked out on a lamp-less street. Any sinister person or spirit or spirit-possessed person could peer in and see me; there was nowhere to hide. The only light came from the TV flashing horrifying images: a stringy-haired Bob materializing at the foot of Laura Palmer’s bed, wearing a maniacal grin; that same maniacal grin appearing on Leland Palmer’s face as he relentlessly stabbed his daughter in an abandoned train car; and, most haunting of all, Laura’s lipstick-smeared face, the maniacal one now, screaming in rage each time the blade ripped her flesh.

When it was over, I didn’t fully understand what had transpired, only that I was terrified. A residual dark energy snaked its way from the TV down the cable cord, escaping through the outlets and into the pitch-black house, charging the air. I stumbled through the dark, feeling for a light switch to see what malevolent presence lurked behind the couch, around the corner, beyond the door. The creaking floorboards were not the house settling, but Bob’s heavy footsteps. What would I do when he arrived?

Fire Walk with Me continued to haunt me in the days that followed. Desperate for solace, I turned to Twin Peaks for the first time, and there I found Laura, post-mortem, yes, but her presence as palpable as ever. Her voice came through videotapes, audiotapes, diaries, and through these records, I began to find closure. “Tonight’s the night I die,” she wrote. “It’s the only way to keep Bob away from me. To tear him out from the inside.” She refused to submit to the darkness, to be controlled by anything or anyone. So she walked knowingly to her death. She wasn’t even afraid. She gave me hope that if I ever did encounter Bob, I could be courageous too.

Melissa Brooks is finishing up her MFA in Fiction at the University of San Francisco. She’s the fiction editor of the literary journal Switchback and assistant editor of the sexual culture journal The Thought Erotic. Some of her stories have appeared in The Molotov Cocktail, Gravel, and Ginosko.