Flash Of Panic
By Hannah Robinson
“Water. Water. Water. Okay.”
Entering her kitchen, Hannah shook her hands like she was trying to flick liquid off her skin. Trying to remember every strategy ten years of therapy taught her. She carefully placed her hands around a glass. Filling it halfway, she drank in sips.
“Ahh, it’s not working,” tears filled her eyes as she began pacing up and down her unit. Alternating between shaking her hands and rubbing her forehead, she repeated, “One. Two. Three. Four. Five.”
“Pass me that, please.”
I looked across to Jay on the couch. The friendship he and I created is far from perfect, but he makes me feel seen. Our special secret. Besides, all the boys my age only care about gaming. Ensuring my eyes were glistening at him. I rose. Smiling, I bit my lower lip.
“See if you can figure it out. Good luck.” I tossed the wooden puzzle into his lap.
I sat beside him, resting my shoulder into his arm. We both sat, together, staring at the wooden puzzle. Different shades of pine and oak intertwined and laced together, crafted to fool anyone. Well, me anyway.
“What are you even meant to do with it? Like, what’s the idea?” I took a deep breath. Inhaling his smell, fresh and light. I rested my head on his shoulder.
“Just wait. Let me see,” Jay stared plainly at the wooden-interlocking mess.
I hooked my hand around his arm and squeezed tighter against his relaxed body. Jay pushed one of the ash pieces to the left and the whole puzzle clicked into a cube. Competitive anger rushed through my body. I let go of his arm and pushed myself away from his side.
“WHAT?” I looked at the puzzle then back at Jay, “It was meant to be a cube! That higgle-de-piggle-de mess is a CUBE!”
Jay erupted with laughter. If he were a witch, I would argue it was a cackle.
“Here, let me show you how to do it,” he chuckled with a sense of pride.
I frowned and moved back to his side, “Alright.”
Our hands brushed together as he handed the cube back to me, now a jumble of wood. My stomach fluttered. Will we always be this close? I let the puzzle go and threw my arms around his chest.
“Hey, what’s up, Darlin’?” Jay asked, hugging me back tightly.
“I just wanted a hug.”
“One. Two. Three. Four. Five.” Hannah paced, shaking her hands once more before collapsing herself onto the floor. On all fours, tears falling from tear duct to carpet.
“It’s not working. It’s getting worse.” She folded back onto her legs, wiping the tears streaming from her face. Her head throbbed. Her breathing was hard and rapid. Her body shivered. She wrapped her hands around her waist and lent her forehead on the carpet.
“Let me hug you properly,” Jay smiled down at me, still embracing each other.
I looked up at him as he guided my body onto his lap. My arms held tightly around his neck as our body weight lent into the couch. He held me, his arms around my waist. Moments of silence passed. I kept my eyes closed and listened to the two of us breathing. I could feel our hearts throbbing against each other.
I mumbled, “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” he replied. He took a deep breath. As he exhaled, his hands moved lower onto my bum, “Is this okay?” He asked.
I lightly nodded and replied, “Ah-ha.”
Jay moved his right hand into my lap, I predicted his next movements correctly as he gently rubbed his fingers over my vagina.
“No. No. No.” Hannah repeated to herself. She stood up from the carpet. Her tears in a constant stream down her cheeks.
“I am not there. He is not in my life anymore. He can’t touch me. He can’t hurt me.”
She reached for a tissue and blew her nose before drying her eyes.
She breathed deeply as she counted, “One. Two. Three. Four. Five.”
Hannah found her glass and filled it to the top before sitting at the table. She lent her head into her palms. Holding her head, she kept breathing deeply.
“He’s not here. He doesn’t control me anymore.”
She stayed there, her body began to stop shaking as her heart rate slowed down. Hannah lifted her head from the palms of her hands.
“I am safe now.”