Atlas Shrugged

[First Draft]

As always, homeroom begins with a moment of silence. I sit still and close my eyes, I breath deeply, trying to relax, focusing on the birds singing outside. My mind states to drift. Fragments of last night’s dream start to surface. I remember walking in the woods . . .

I will not be silenced

My heart jumps and my eyes snap open, at the sound of the unfamiliar voice. The room is still and silent with the exception of an occasional student shifting in a seat. I lift my hand to my ear, but I know I did not hear an audible whisper. It was a voice in my head. Not my voice. Not my thoughts. It was the voice of someone else.

Am I about to have a mental breakdown right here in class?

Now, that was my thought. That was my inner voice doing what my inner voice does best: running through a check list of consequences for every action.

I can feel the tears gathering at the base of my lower lashes. I stare up at the ceiling, hoping the air will dry my eyes out before I embarrass myself. My muscles tense beneath my skin. My brain feels like it is swimming through plasma. The PA system crackles to life with morning announcements, a droning background noise to my desperation. I shut my eyes and try to breath, talking myself down from this invisible precipice. Paranoia? Schizophrenia? I tell myself it’s just a chemical imbalance, nothing pharmaceuticals can’t fix.

I watch the clock count down the final minutes of homeroom and bolt out the door with the bell. I crave the solitude of the lady’s room, the big handicap stall that will buffer me from the rest of humanity. I ignore the flow of people passing by as I push myself forward.

Once I am behind the locked door, I face myself in the mirror, looking for some sign of insanity. Is it something you can see? I splash cold water on my face. I know I’m being ridiculous, melodramatic. I simply have a biological condition, like diabetes. “Two weeks,” I say to my reflection in the mirror. I take two deep breaths, dry my face with a paper towel, and step out of the stall.


One Comment on “Atlas Shrugged”

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