The Fear Inside

Crap. It had to be mathematics. She leaned over to Rosie and said “damnit, I can’t do this.”

Rosie reached over and patted her arm “you can do this, I mean you did fine on the Trig test.”

She looked around, she didn’t want the proctor to think they were cheating, it was one of a series of entrance tests for the Guild School. Guild was a special school for high potential students and she wanted in badly “That was different” she hissed between her teeth, “that involved symbols and words. This is just RAW numbers.”

“Do you want in the school or not? You’d better not fuck this up and make me go alone. Just grit your teeth and get through it.”

Easy for her to say she thought. But thank God for Rosie, no one else even tried to understand. Even she didn’t understand. Since she’d been in pre-school, seeing a list of numbers on a page terrified her. She had no idea why, she didn’t even know what she was scared of. The numbers just evoked this raw, visceral fear. The closest thing she could think of was of being trapped in a closet while a killer looked for her. Her body would get cold and clammy as she broke out into a sweat, and she had a hard time managing her breathing. It was not the ideal situation for a mild asthmatic.

Usually she could control it if there were no other stressors around, but taking tests, especially high stakes tests like this one were triggers. Her mom had taught her a trick that sometimes worked. Picture your Aunt Leonia bragging about her porcelain dog collection. It was a running family joke, they were cheap trinkets she picked up from 5&10 stores but she acted like they were the crown jewels. They loved Leonia though so they just all put up with it, teased her a little until she told them all to go to hell, and then got down to eating.

She looked down at the paper…almost on autopilot she had finished the first two questions. She got Rosie’s attention and gave her the thumbs up.

Rosie smiled and whispered “Love you like a rock girl.”

© Glenn R Keller 2021, All Rights Reserved

Singing or Crying In The Rain Prompt

You’ve not eaten all day and you’re at the point where the hunger hurts, but there is no desperation…yet. After all, you’ve some options to find a meal, though admittedly they are narrowing as the evening comes on. The damned rain is not helping. The best thing you can say for the rain is that the dampness is taking your mind off the hunger. But soon you may be trading hypothermia for starvation.

Would you really starve? The rational part of your brain is saying “no”. You have water at the public drinking fountains and you know if you got desperate there are…well people that you could go to. And they would feed you, happily. But that would be indeed a high price, one that you are not yet willing to contemplate. That’s the rational part of your brain.

There is a wrestling match going on between your rationality and a rising panic. You are not a street person, you’re not resourceful. What if you couldn’t eat for another 24 hours and then it became 48? Would you go to him then…or to her? After what they’d done. You’d come so far, only to go sliding back.

And then you see it…you had not even thought to look but there it was. Friday night community fish dinner…free to all. You hadn’t gone to church for years aside from a wedding. In fact you don’t even believe in God. Until maybe, just now.