Agoraphobia

In her closet, her hands shook on her shoe laces as she slowly laces them up. “Don’t think about it…” She let out the deep breath she had been holding in.

Tapping her dog on the top of his head, she smiled at him. He looked at her with large comforting eyes, his tail wagging slightly. She attached his leash to his collar and pushed herself up to her feet.

Her steps were slow down the hallway. In her mind, it went on forever. She would walk for hours and hours and only end up back in her closet, remove her shoes and take off her jeans. She would don a pain of comfortable pants, tight the waistband and go back to the couch; where it was safe.

She was not in her mind, and the closet ended more quickly than she would have liked. Standing  of the apartment door, she looked at it.

It towered over her, large and daunting.

Her heart quickened in her chest, pounding against her ribs. She took quick and shallow breaths as she gripped the leash more tightly in her hand. She had to curl her hands into fists to keep them from shaking.

Opening her free hand, she reached out and let it wrap itself around the doorknob. The knob was cool in her hand, it should have been refreshing in her clammy hand, yet, it seemed to freeze through her skin, numbing all her muscles in her hands and chilling the bone.

Looking down at her dog, she looked at the way he looked at her. Anxious and comforting. He shifted his weight from foot to foot, his ears up and his tail wagging slightly. Letting out the breath she was holding in, she turned the knob and stepped out into the hall.

Once the door closed, she could feel the echo of it clicking back into black vibrating through the halls. She breathed quickly, her head aching in her chest as though it were going to give out at any moment, it was too exhausted from beating this quickly all the time.

She walked slowly, despite the urge to run, to get this all over with.

Her dog and companion kept pace with her, he didn’t pull her forward, or stagger behind. He simply walked at her hip, every so often the side of his face would brush against her thigh in a comforting way she couldn’t fully understand. The warmth from his face soothing her to her core, if only for a moment.

He gave her the strength needed to push forward for just a little while longer.

Each step she took seemed to shake its way through her. She took the stairs as slowly as she took her steps, down the stairs out towards the lobby of her building. She wrapped her hand tighter around the leash as she stood looking out the glass door to her front building.

The door was so thin, less than an inch of glass stood between her and outside.

Her body swayed slightly, unable to stay balance as the fear twirled around inside her. Her mind was quiet as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She should keep them closed, she told herself. If she kept them closed she could shut everything out; including the voices.

Her dog whimpered low in his throat.

Opening her eyes, she looked down at the dog. His nose was practically pressed against the glass and her heart broke from him. It broke for him because it was too tired of breaking for herself.

The door rattled for a moment as someone walked past her and went outside. Her heart lurched up into his throat. She whimpered low in her throat.

With a crease in her brow, the pretty blonde girl looked over her shoulder at her for a moment, before shaking her head and walking outside.

Her dog pressed his face against her thigh.

He needed to go out.

Opening the door for a moment, she shot out. Her dog went to the grass; happy to be outside doing his business.

The world spun around her, the saliva thinning in her mouth as her heart beat hard against her chest. She swallowed hard, her feet fumbling one over the other as she struggled to stay on her feet, struggled to keep a hold of herself. All the air was being pushed out of her lungs, her mouth and nose refusing to keep any new air in. Light-headed, she choked on a sob stuck in her throat.

She couldn’t.

Her fist loosened, opened. She could barely feel her hands release the leash as she let it go. Whirling quickly, she ripped the glass door open and went inside.

Hunched over, she held onto her knees and forced air into her lungs. She took deep breaths but they did nothing to calm her head and the voices that were yelling at her inside her mind.

Moments passed as she struggled to grab hold of herself again. She closed her eyes, breathing until those quick and shaky breaths became somewhat deep and steady.

When she was finally feeling a little more steady, she stood up straight and opened her eyes. Turning, she pressed her hand against the glass, looking out. Her dog sat in the grass a few feet away, looking at her, as though trying to invite her out.

It was an invitation she couldn’t accept. She had tried and failed, again. If she closed her eyes, she could get rid of the glass in her mind and she could see herself sitting out there with him, in the grass.

Sighing, she opened the door and her dog ran in. Reaching down, she touched a hand to his head and made her way back to the apartment.

She would try again tomorrow.

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