They’re ignoring you again, her brain said.
She stood in a circle with her friends, her closest on her right, standing perhaps too close for the comfort of her friend. She didn’t mind it. The closeness comforted her, let her know that she did indeed exist, with every little brush against her friend’s arm or every little shift of the air as her friend shifted from foot to foot.
They don’t even see you anymore, her brain said.
She looked around at her friends, their smiling faces and their laughter inundating her senses, filling her heart. The friend on her right brushed against her as they laughed. It filled her with the warmth of love and affection.
Yet still her brain protested. They haven’t spoken to you or acknowledged you in years! it said, despite the greeting she had received just minutes earlier when she joined them in their circle.
True, she noted, that since then, her friends hadn’t spoken a word to her. Their conversation bounced from topic to topic: Star wars to philosophy to marriage to the future. No one minded much. Most had things to say on every subject, but she stayed quiet. She might say the wrong thing. She might sound ignorant. She might deserve ridiculing laughter. Too much was at stake, her dignity above all, to raise up her voice and speak.
They don’t care about you, her brain said.
She could feel it in her bones. The prickling underneath her skin. The heaviness weighing on her shoulders. The blank blackness covering her mind. The chasm that seemed to form between them. They started to drift away! Their voices sounded further. She could no longer shift from right to left and feel the brush of her friend’s shirt against her skin. They started to fade!
They’re leaving you, her brain said.
And indeed, they had begun to walk away, mouths moving but as silent as the old films. Her closest friend brushed past, but the contact felt like nothing. No warmth passed between them. The affection had died.
Panicing, she reached out and grabbed her friend’s hand, her fingers enclosing it in a firm grasp. “Don’t leave me alone,” she whispered, the words out of her moth before she even knew the desire to speak them. Her grasp tightened, drawing her friend in closer. Fighting back tears, a losing battle, she whispered the words again. “Don’t leave me alone.”
Arms embraced her, pulling her in with a squeeze. Her senses opened up again, warmth flooding through her veins as her skin made contact with her friend. “Never,” her friend responded, voice lower than a whisper, affectionate and intimate. “Never.”
Prompt: Inspired by a conversation I had about defense mechanisms.