“Shut up, brain!” he shouted, placing his hands over his ears, the panic rising up in his chest. He could feel it coursing through his veins, thick and looming as he stood in the middle of the crowded, busy mall, people rushing past him on all sides, going all directions. His heart pounded heavily in his ears. His mind raced, a constant battle between negative and positive, with negative on the winning side. His stomach churned, not the kind of churning that comes with nausea and the inevitable vomiting that typically follows, but the kind of churning that draws attention to itself for no other reason to draw attention to itself.
He didn’t know where to go. Or what to do. No one paid him any attention. It felt as if a barrier had sprung up between him and the rest of the world, a barrier which effectively kept him out of everyone’s sight. Had he turned invisible? His mind sure wanted him to believe that he had. Someone bumped into him, causing him to take a little step back and reassuring him that he was, in fact, a very live, very physical human being with substance and matter.
He had not, in fact, turned invisible.
As he stood there, thinking, he realized that he no longer merely stood in one place, but rather his feet had subconsciously started moving, walking down the crowded walkways, joining what felt like the hundreds of thousands of other people. Beside him walked a young woman, who looked about his age, young and innocent but with a girlish maturity about her. She turned towards him, a soft look in her greenish eyes, an empathetic look, a look which enveloped him, warmed him, held him close. Her lips started to move to form words, but to him his world had become those eyes.
Suddenly, her arms wrapped around him, bringing him into a hug. Her lips rested by his ear and as they moved, just enough to tickle his ear slightly, he heard her voice, a musical sound full of love and life and hope. “It’ll be alright.” She pulled away from him and slipped her hand into his, giving it a quick little squeeze. As they walked together, side by side, their legs brushing against each other as they walked, he could feel the panic subsiding in his chest, replaced instead with an airiness.
“It’s okay to be afraid,” she told him when they left the building, her hand still lingering in his. “I’m Natasha, by the way.”
She slipped him her phone number as she walked away.
He may not have succeeded in making progress overcoming his fear, but it had still been a wonderful day after all.
Prompt: “Shut up, brain!” he shouted, placing his hands over his ears.