May 13, 2017

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Diagnosis Guilt (Part 2)

Each slight movement of her friends, her ears picked up. Darcy’s fingers tapping on her thigh. Aimee’s fingers combing through her hair. Lila’s steady breathing. Roarke’s thumping leg. Paul’s shifting against the couch. Comforting yet the most nerve wracking sounds in the world. 

Emma’s eyes locked with Darcy’s, blue into brown, ice and water into earthy soils. She lost herself in those eyes, finding the confidence she had lost long ago. They seemed to send her messages, of hope, of courage, of strength. She dared not break her concentration on them for fear she would back down. She couldn’t afford another back down. Not after last time. Not with the time they have left before the great graduation diaspora. 
“Listen,” she began, her voice foggier than she had hoped, “we’ve known each for a long time now…”

”Four years and counting,” Aimee chimed in. Always the one to deal the show. Regret welled up inside Emma’s chest. Why did she invite Aimee again? 

Darcy’s snapping her fingers refocussed her attention. “I think it’s important that you all know this about me. We only have a couple months left together before…” She choked over the words, you leave me. A sensitive subject. Thinking about it caused Emma’s pulse to pick up. She could feel each beat coursing through her veins. Her fingers clenched, a ball arming inside her too-long sweater sleeve. 

Emma breathed in, the air rushing in in measured gulps. Each one, she paced to a beat, in an attempt to calm herself. It didn’t always delivered the desired results. “I have this–this thing. People call it a disorder. And before you ask, yes, I’ve been diagnosed.” 

She felt the unease ripple through the room. Eyes closed, she ignored it. An ungainly silence fell over the group as the silence within surrendered to the newfound but not unfamiliar chaos. Everything became personal. Her subconscious teased her body– back, shoulders, neck, even her wrists and fingers felt the weight. Cracking her knuckles, she heard her wrists begin to pop. Each new turn of the wrist brought an unpleasant symphony of the sounds. She winced. 

Again refocussing on Darcy, Emma steadied her breath. Her next words, she addressed to Darcy, in every way but uttering her name. “I know some of you claim you do, too, or that you know what it’s like, but I also know you’re self-diagnosed. Any idiot can type those letters into a Google search box and get the same results. You wouldn’t self-diagnose a brain tumor or a deadly disease. Why should this be any different?

“I feel guilty for bringing this up,” Emma said, turning away from Darcy’s gaze. “I know it isn’t easy. I know it might feel like you do have something, and you might, I don’t know. I’m as qualified to diagnose you as you are to diagnose yourself. I’m not trying to disregard you or your struggles. I know this is delicate. Trust me, I do. 

“And as much as I wish I could say I believe you one hundred percent, I can’t. It’s hard enough to do that with an actual diagnosis. I’ve been diagnosed several times and I still find myself in denial. I’ve been on medication for it several times. I’ve had therapists mention it. I have a real diagnosis and I often choose to deny it. Out of fear. Out of a wish to be normal. 

“So please understand when I say this: hearing you offhandedly mention it upsets me. You don’t really know. It could be a coping mechanism for you to believe it, an excuse. But please understand that it isn’t for me. For me, this is very real. The overwhelming fear I experience on a daily basis…” 

Emma raised her eyes and for the first time in her whole speech, she glanced at everyone. Her eyes made contact with every other pair of eyes. Each held emotions she only imagined she would see: pity, empathy, sorrow, caring, love. A wave washed over her, a wave of affection flooding her systems, causing her to collapse. 

Each friend stood to join her. Darcy. Roarke. Lila. Paul. Aimee. Each embraced her like the world had died. No one said a word. Their affection said it all for them. 

And in that moment, for the first time in her memory, Emma feared nothing. 

* * * 

Prompt: Finishing yesterday’s story. I would have finished it yesterday, but I was half asleep at my keyboard. 

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May 12, 2017

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​Diagnosis Guilt
The incessant pounding of her heart deafened her, all other sounds coming as little more than background noise. In an attempt to calm her boisterous nerves, she breathed in, counting each breath. With each breath, she noted what she sensed: the faint scent of baking chocolate chip cookies; the restless rustling of clothing against clothing; the slightest dent in the door, giving it character; the carpet prickling the soles of her feet.

Her hand clasped the doorknob, its cold metal awakening her nerves to the present and calling her forth out of the disaster-run fantasy hidden behind her gentle, shy eyes and between her ears. With a single motion, she pushed the door open to face her friends, the people she trusted most in the world. Darcy, the girl she told all her troubles. Aimee, the girl she worked with. Lila, the girl she felt in charge with (a strange occurrence, indeed). Roarke, the guy who she could always count on for a hug. Paul, the guy who noticed her at her worst.

She waved a little wave, a nervous giggle accompanying. The eyes of her friends boring into her soul, she shifted her weight from foot to foot. Her fingers tangled themselves in the stretch of her jacket. Clearing her throat evolved into a fit of coughing as her friends watched her flounder. Tears, half of fear, half a result of her coughing, welled behind her eyes, but she demanded they stay put. These, too, like everyone else, refused to listen to her authority and laughed in her face.

Not a finger, not a foe, moved on the couch. Her friends sat is deadly silence, gazing upon her, their expressions tainted by worry and pity. “You don’t have to tell us, Emma, if it’ll be too painful,” Darey said, breaking the silence. But Emma’s stony gaze reminded Dary of how far Emma had come — and how she had come to aelieve it.

Emma took a moment to take care of a few last minute things, eyes closed She rolled her sleeves to her elbows. She adjusted her hair to lie as it should. Her sleeves rolled down. She adjusted her glasses. Sleeves up. Her fingers lingered on the earrings she always wore, her mother’s. Sleeves down. Determination, appeared. Target, selected. Going down the line, she sought the attention of others.

* * *
Prompt : An internal monologue I had. TBC, hopefully tomorrow.

April 21, 2017 (A Day Late) 

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Defenses Up

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. 

Acting and Writing: More Compatible than Many May Believe 

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Every time I mention that I’m in college to someone I ever just met, they inevitably ask the most common follow-up question: “What’s your major?” 

This question requires me to explain: “I’m a double emphasis, studying acting and screenwriting.” 

It doesn’t normally draw a vocal comment other than the generic ones that everyone receives: “That’s cool.” “Sounds fun.” “Interesting.” Or perhaps yet another follow-up question: “How’s that going?” “Do you like it?” “How busy does it keep you?” 

However, despite the lack of interested responses, most people would not pair acting and writing in one person. On the one hand, the stereotypical actors: outgoing, extroverted, goofy. On the other, the stereotypical writers: withdrawn, introverted, serious. Those two trait sets do not easily mix; they are, after all, exact opposites. Because of these stereotypes, one wouldn’t think, “You know what would be great? An actor-writer!” 

Said statement isn’t wrong, however. 

If there is one thing that both acting and writing have in common, it’s their search for the truth. Ask any (good) acting teacher and they’ll tell you that acting is about the truth of the moment. Stanislavski and his method are really all about that. Ask any (good) writing teacher and they’ll tell you similarly, that writing is about the truth of the characters’ actions, feelings, reactions. Read Stephen King’s “On Writing” and he’ll tell you exactly that. 

As an actor-writer myself, I can attest to the compatibility of these two fields. Both require a deep understanding of human nature in order to convey the truth to an audience. One simply does it visually, the other verbally. Combining the two leads to a greater understanding. Acting allows a writer insight into the inner workings of humanity. Writing allows an actor insight into the complexity of relationships and actions. Together, the actor-writer has a deeper, fuller, more well-rounded understanding of human nature. 

Not all actors are outgoing, extroverted, goofy, just as not all writers are withdrawn, introverted, serious. Not all people fall into one category other than “human.” Not all people in one group fall into one category other than the grouping itself: “soccer team,” “class,” “family.” Each of us is more complex than the most intricate machine, no matter how many gears, gags, and whirligigs make it what it is. 

That’s part of what makes humanity so interesting. We are all complex. We are all interesting. We are all unique. Some people can act. Good on them. Some people can write. Good on them. Some can do math or science or engineering. Good on them. We all have different talents, skills, capabilities. We have to learn to appreciate the ones we have, accept the ones we don’t have, and work together with the ones whose strengths complete our weaknesses. 

April 17, 2017

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Under Pressure 

Her head ached from the pressure building between her two ears. It happened every time stress invaded her life. Every time without fail. Her head felt about to explode. Her eyes itched and drooped, wanting nothing more than to give in and give way. Her stomach flip-flopped, one second feeling fine but changing its mind within milliseconds. Her entire body screamed with the pressure. 

“Just leave me alone!” She screamed. At her computer. At her books. At her phone. At anything that caused her any little stesss. 

And, yes, that included her voluntary tasks. 

***

Prompt: Yet another about my state of mind. Sorry for cutting it short. It’s been a long weekend.