Welcome to Friday Fiction. Can I just remind you that NEXT WEEK (5th June) is link up week. That means that if you have any fiction pieces or book review posts that you want to share with others, pop along and feel free to link up. It would be great to see you there.
When I saw that this week’s prompt from Sara at mumturnedmom was FEAR, I had an idea for a new character. She doesn’t have a name or a story at the moment, but she came to life because of the way I imagined her life to be. She’s loosely based on someone I know, who does have a real-life crippling fear of almost everything. It’s not easy to live your life being scared of normal, everyday things, so I put this character in a situation that I thought would be difficult to her, but not to everyone else. Here’s how she got on:
Here I stand, half in, half out, trying to convince my brain to make my feet move. It’s getting harder to breathe; something is pressing on my chest. I swallow, trying to take in more air. ‘Please don’t let me die, please don’t let me die,’ I chant, before stepping inside.
There are other people coming in, all laughing, with big smiles on their faces: all except me. Moving out of their way, I step to one side towards a corner. Further and further, I press back into my corner, until the edges of the wall begin to dig in to my skin through my thin silky dress. Why did I put this thing on anyway? It’s not me: none of this is me.
Sweat trickles down between my breasts as my chest heaves up and down, my breathing refusing to steady. I shake my head in frustration, sinking slowly to the floor, as the room turns black.
Am I blind? I can’t be. All I can see are white spots though. There’s a strong possibility I might vomit in a minute. Keep breathing, I tell myself, trying to calm down. I still can’t see, so I close my eyes and count to ten as slow as I can manage.
It works, a little, well it turns out I am not blind after all. I knew that though. Panic makes the brain do strange things. Here I am slumped on the floor in a corner, all dolled up but looking like I’ve had one too many glasses of wine already. It’s only 8 o’clock, which makes me look even worse, that is, if anyone could see me. With all the activity going on here, I don’t think anyone has noticed. That’s one thing to be thankful for, I guess.
Who am I trying to kid? I’m a mess. Tears of frustration start to pour involuntarily down my cheeks. I can’t control them, never have been able to. I fail at the smallest of test of my resolve – every single time. Now I’m not only crumpled and creased, I have wet spots all over my dress – not a good look on silk – and my make-up has probably run too. If I stay here any longer, someone might notice me and throw money at my feet.
The crying always helps though. It’s a release somehow. A release of the pent-up frustration of the way I behave. There must be something wrong with me. This isn’t normal, surely. Face your fears: that’s what you are supposed to do aren’t you? For me, that means life in general, everyday situations that normal people can cope with. If they can do it, why can’t I?
Scrabbling around in my purse, I find a compact and some old mascara. My make-up isn’t as bad as I thought it would be and although my cheeks are red and blotchy, by the time I’ve finished reapplying some powder, they don’t look too bad. Taking care not to catch my dress in my heel, or show too much leg (or worse), I stand up. A quick smooth of the dress and a check of the telltale tear drops and yes, all good. Perhaps that’s an advantage of silk – quick drying. The dress is a bit creased, but that’s as much from sitting down in the taxi on the way here as it is from sitting in a corner on the floor. Can’t believe I’ve just done that – really hope no one saw.
I take a few deep breaths. They are supposed to calm you and I guess they do. I feel a bit calmer anyway: as much as is possible. I’m not steady on heels as it is, so I take a few cautious steps forward on the plush red carpet towards the other people gathered in the foyer.
‘May I take your coat madam?’
‘Who, me?’ I say, turning to face a young man who is holding out his hands and smiling. ‘’Oh, yes, of course.’ That’s what you do at these things isn’t it? Give your coat to an attendant instead of throwing it over the back of your chair.
‘Drinks are being served over by the bar on your right. There’s a seating plan so you can check which table you’re sitting at, but if you have any problems, please let one of us know.’ It’s the coat attendant again and it feels like he’s ushering me through the door now. Does he know I’ve already been here for twenty minutes and have only managed to get this far?
It’s just a dinner and drinks: a gala dinner that a friend of mine invited me to. We’ll be on a table with some other friends that he knows, but I don’t know any of them. It’s not that big a deal. I’m sure they’ll be nice people. I’m sure I can manage some small talk. I can use a knife and fork. I have basic table manner skills. I can do this.
I look over my shoulder to take one last look at my corner before stepping forward and in to the room.
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