Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Creative NaBloPoMo #5: We are all rocks

This one is just a slice of life, fictionalised, but based on several real conversations.

We are all rocks

The big conference room is emptying now, as people drift away, relief at the end of the interminable meeting visible on most faces. "The bar?" one murmurs to his confreres as they exit. "GOD, yes -"

Packing up my things, I'm struck by the body language of the small, delicate-boned woman beside me. We know each other slightly, professionally, but I'm aware - and becoming more aware by the minute - that something is not sitting well with her today. Her rigidity of posture is a tell as powerful as any I've ever seen. I can feel the ghosts of unspoken things wrapping around my shoulders.

"I was just going to ask you -" she begins, then pauses. "Well, about -"

The mundane matter she raises isn't what she wants to talk about, and I know this, but I play the game, batting the conversational ball neatly to slips as I wait for it.

Wait for it -

"You haven't been well, I hear. Someone said you'd gone to part-time?"

Here it is.

"Yes," I say. "I have been extremely fatigued, and while I haven't got a fully useful diagnosis yet, I'm also dealing with some pretty severe anxiety and panic attacks. Fulltime is just beyond me at the moment."

Her eyes are so tired. Her breathing relaxes.

"Do you have them at night? The panics?" she says softly. "When you're falling asleep...?"

"Oh so much," I say emphatically, the ready tears that are never far away from me forming. "Especially when I am almost asleep. It's so disgusting, it's like -"

" - being punched in the stomach with an adrenaline gun!" she finishes. "Yes! Yes, it's horrible -"

"Are you stressed, too?" I ask gently. She looks so tired. So immensely worn down.

And then she opens the gates, and the river flows down, and I stand steady in the flow, being a rock, being comfort.

Later, I will call one of my own dear friends and wail my frustration, my anxiety, my desperate need to feel better, and she will stand firm, feet planted, in the downpour of my terror and hold me up.

Sometimes granite, sometimes sand. The best we can do is pay it forward, when we can.

- Kathy, 5/11/14

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