Panicky and peculiar

She sits playing with her bracelet, twisting it and tying it up in knots. Her eyes never lingering in one place for too long – don’t want anyone to think she is staring, or not listening, or listening too hard. Under the table her hands whirr. She can sense them watching, studying her although never can she catch their gaze directly upon her.

‘Deep breath. Run through what you need to remember.’ Someone is looking. What had they said, what should she be saying now? Her cheeks flush. Her irregular pulse, skips and dances in her ribs. The feeling is unbearable, she scratches her chest, trying to overload the sensation.

The clock keeps on ticking. But the feeling of dread only increases. How long would this last? What would they make her do? What if she couldn’t do it? A thought occurred to her. A sharp intake of breath. Someone else speaks. Her heart pounds with each missed gap. The another speaks. A laugh. The conversation veers away. She says a word. No-one listens, one person looks then looks away. She tries again and then gives up. Slumping in the chair from the exertion she silently hates herself and her surroundings.

Still she needs to ask the question. She’s certain she’s supposed to know the answer already. Perhaps she can find it another way? Maybe there’s a document? Maybe she should see a psychic. What if they are angry she asks? She should probably just forget about it.

Suddenly, the voices change. The rhythm is altered. People are smiling. It’s over. Within seconds they all stand and exit the room, laughing and joking. The boss has gone. Still no answer. Only a longer list of things to do and a sense of dread of having to do them. The staff meeting is over and again she has not said a thing. They probably think she is moody and unhelpful – she knows it’s not true. She would bend over backwards, at her own expense. She’s just panicky and peculiar she shrugs to herself. The anxiety subsides, leaving her exhausted and full of self-loathing. A tear slides down her cheek as she screws up the receipt.


Written in response to a Putting My Feet in the Dirt prompt.


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