Sitting at a desk wasn’t something I enjoyed, I preferred to be outdoors. It was one of those painful things I needed to accept with my condition. The less time I spent outside, the better. There was no safety and with eyes playing tricks on me it was a death wish as well. Thus, I sit at a desk, feeling the keys of a keyboard and opening my heart to the world.
There would still be times that I worried about my safety. For example, opening the door to the bathroom. I would pause there for the longest time and wait for the hallucination to end before I braved stepping onto the cold tile. As you can imagine, spending two hours or so a day doing nothing but making sure everything was real was only a waste of time.
Even after all my family did for me and the fact I was getting some sanity back, I still felt hopeless. The apartment was cold and empty, the words I expressed were only getting darker and inching towards miserable. I could feel collapse, I could hear cracks in the building and I was all too ready to accept doom and destruction. I was close to giving up.
That is when I met her. A strange individual trying to open her apartment door across from mine. I was taking out the trash, as carefully as I could. I had given myself a good forty minutes to complete this with the threat of walking into the road or off an edge towards a fall. When I opened the door, I saw she was trying her apartment key, but it wasn’t happening. With a final burst of frustration the key snapped and she yelled.
I jumped in surprise and she heard. When she turned around I saw a whirlwind of chaos. A mess of tangled hair, glasses that kept falling off her small nose, hands filled with notepads and a satchel. On top of that, even the scarf she wore seemed to be against her. It was longer than any scarf I had ever seen and it seemed to wrap around her like a boa constrictor.
“Uh,” was all I could say, blinking too much for her to think I was sane, but she didn’t seem to notice.
“Oh, can I use your phone, please?” she asked panicked. “I need to call the super to get this door open.”
I didn’t think to question her, but I saw an opportunity to shorten my forty minute venture to ten at the most.
“Sure, go ahead,” I replied, pushing the door open and pointing at the phone which clung to the wall.
It was only when she passed me that I realized she could have been trying to break into the apartment across from me and now I just gave her an apartment to rob. However, on looking at her again as she dialed the number, she didn’t seem the type.
A minute later she walked out.
“Thanks, he will be here in a few minutes,” she told me. “I’m Eliza, by the way.”
Instead of a handshake I got a small wave and a smile.
“Chester,” I replied with a nervous nod. “Cou-could you walk with me, Eliza? I need to take this…”
I didn’t need to finish, she just nodded.
“Sure, lead the way,” Eliza murmured.
She began to take her phone out, which worried me if she was going to watch me from making a mistake. However, Eliza simply took it out to turn it off. With a sense of relief, I began walking down the stairs and discovered a trait about Eliza. She was a talker.
“What a day, huh?” Eliza began simply enough, before a torrent of peeves flew from her mouth. “The moment I stepped out work a car decided to speed through a water puddle right at my feet.”
Looking at her closer I did notice some water still clinging to her hair.
“And this scarf, ugh, my mother knitted it, but to fit her! She is like seven foot compared to me! I’m trying to help this one lady find a book and I just keep tripping over this giraffe attire.”
I made a small laugh, although nervously as we were now outside. Walking behind the building to the dumpster I paused as the alley disappeared. I was in complete darkness now and my step didn’t seem to find solid ground. I stopped moving at this point, knowing that if I couldn’t feel the ground that I should pause completely. It would be so easy for me to fall over.
“And what do you do, Chester?” Eliza asked me.
“Uh...can you hang on a second?” I asked her, but I must have been failing in keeping still.
Eliza grabbed my arm.
“Are you alright?” Eliza asked, more concerned than I expected from a stranger.
Eliza guided me to the dumpster as I explained what was wrong with me. She even guided me back up the stairs and the moment I felt my apartment door handle I pushed it open I heard the super call.
“What can I help you with miss?” I heard his gruff, old voice asked.
“I will be okay, thank you, Eliza,” I told her as she lingered back and I closed the door.
With the door closed I walked on all fours, but it felt like I was floating through space. I laid there for around twenty minutes before I blinked and the world returned. I sighed deeply before standing up and returning to my desk to write some more.
However, as I was sitting down there was a knock at my door. To my surprise and relief, it was Eliza.
“All sorted?” I asked, playing it off as if nothing happened.
“Uh, yeah, I’m back in,”Eliza replied, but I saw the same concern and fear in her eyes as everyone else. “Are you...alright?”
“Yeah, don’t worry. Thanks for keeping me from face planting into the sidewalk.”
“Hey, no problem,” she replied a little more chipper.
I nodded awkwardly and was about to close the door.
“Uh, Chester, do want to hang out and, like, talk some more?” Eliza asked. “Believe me, talking does help. You heard it from me first hand.”
“I don’t-” I began, but was almost instantly interrupted.
“I’m not taking ‘no’ for an answer,” Eliza replied simply. “Come on, I made coffee.”
I believe with those words I was sold.
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