A Site of Pure Fiction

Claustrophobia

Originally written circa 2003, exact date unknown

This was Edgar Allen Poe’s fault.
If only my senior year English teacher, Mr. Adler, had assigned another story than “The Premature Burial”! If only I had cheated with crib notes instead! Yet the past remains unchanged, and I am where I am because of it.
Looking back, I have to say that my claustrophobia began the moment I finished the story. I remember going to bed with a pit in my stomach…and I remember my mother waking me from some screaming nightmare. Things went downhill fast from there. The bus ride to school was one of the first things to go. It wasn’t long before I insisted on open windows if I was in the room. As for swimming, with the water pressing against my face- Impossible! Even I didn’t anticipate, though, how I would react when Danny hugged me. Poor Danny–the look on his face when I went beserk! I couldn’t take the constriction of his arms around me. I really couldn’t! I didn’t mean to hurt him. I simply panicked.
The judge at my arraignment seemed unsympathetic to my plight, though. At least he gave me a choice. I could start seeing a psychiatrist, or I could go to jail. Jail is a four-letter word to a woman with claustrophobia, so I accepted the treatment. He sealed my fate with sharp tap of his gravel.
The court-appointed shrink, Dr. Haverson, seemed nice enough, not at all like a doctor anxious for the golf course. At first, all we did was chat about mundane stuff. He did everything he could to make me feel at ease. In fact, he even offered me a glass of wine. And relax me it did, because within 5 minutes, I was unconscious on his couch.
When I awoke, I found myself lying in some sort of box. The effects of the drug had not quite worn off, so I could only stare blankly at the demented shrink hovering above me. He grinned when he saw I was awake. “Good morning, Ms. Varner!” he greeted me. “Now, Good Night!” With that, he slammed the lid.
I couldn’t tell you how long I screamed. Long enough that I was left with only hoarse sobs to express my dismay. It was then he started to whisper through a hole near my ear. He asked, if he let me out, if I would do certain things for him. I wholeheartedly agreed. That wasn’t enough, apparently. He began asking for more… dark, twisted things. I agreed to them, so long as he would let me out. Then he asked for one more thing. Just that, and he would set me free. But I couldn’t do THAT. I was willing to do about anything …anything but THAT.
I could feel his rage beat down on me. “Fine!” he snarled, “stay in there!” With that, he closed up the air holes and walked away. Still, I felt much better, much safer, in the box. It seems that Dr. Haverson’s therapy worked, for all the good it’ll do me now. There’s not much air left in here…my time is growing short. That doesn’t bother me anymore, because I now have a mission.
If there truly is an afterlife, I’m hunting down Edgar Allen Poe, and I’m kicking his ass.

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