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The Shield

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For what was already a growing, deepening need; it turned to a guilt. You just tweaked with the spot light, stuck yourself under it, and looked what happened. I'm destroyed. Destroy yourself; destroy me. For what didn't need to be pain; you made sure it was. I found so much in you, too much. More than I deserve. You used to lift me high, higher than I knew I was capable of. And then you brought me crashing, lower than I thought was possible.

You brought me down through your own pain; through my guilt of it. I couldn't stand to see you suffer; but honey, I need this. "There's a certain part of her brain," the doctor had explained, "That forces her to see reality. That part of her brain is amazingly strong. Stronger than I've ever seen on someone. If she didn't have this part, or if it were weaker, she would be ceased of all sanity." His face was almost confused, as if he were looking for something, while he stared at me. "But as the years have gone by, this part has started to show some flaws; it's getting weaker. She hasn't shown any signs up until now. At what age did you start getting these insecurities?"

"I was ten." It felt quite nice to speak for myself. My mother was there, but the question was directed to me. I took a strange pride in that.

"Yes. That proves my point. This part of your brain held up ten years of you avoiding your non-existent insecurities, showing you the realistic side of the problem, or maybe even giving it contradictive evidence. But the brain does this without you noticing, my dear." The doctor spread out his fingers as if the were webbed, and placed one hand on each side of my head. "What you hold in here is amazing, Miss. You have a shield inside your skull." The doctors expression turned grave. "But soon you will start to slip up. As this part gets weaker, the insecurities will surface. Little ones at first, but soon they'll get worse. The second you discover your new insecurity, may it be 10 minutes after you leave my office today, you come and see me immediately. The part in you brain that should over power the rest of your body, if it was not for this magical shield, is the part that will make you different from everybody else. You were set out to be mentally ill, Miss. Something in your younger years has triggered it, but you have your shield." The doctor removed his hands from my head, placed them neatly in his lap, and gave my mother an apologetic look.

"What kind of insecurities are we talking about?" She asked, her voice urgent and drowned in anxiety.

"The minor ones have already occurred. Then we have medi-minor, which shouldn't be too far off. Then, in hopefully a long time away, the bigger ones will arrive. That's the majors. The majors will consist of fear of small spaces, people you don't know or haven't met, and unfamiliar places. In the midst of all this, the extremely powerful one will arrive. This one isn't put into Minor or Major, because different people will react differently. Even though your daughter has her wondrous shield, it isn't the shield that stops this one; it's common sense. This one is an insecurity of her physical image." The doctor turned to me. "As I'm sure you know, it's very common for young girls to be insecure about their body. For your daughter, it may be the same as every other young teenaged girl. Or it could be a lot worse. She will, like everyone else, find this insecurity within herself; what I'm worried about is how powerful it may be." He turned back to me and used the same voice and tone as he did with my mother. Again, I took pride in being independant. Do you have any insecurities about your body at the present time, Miss?"

"Yes, sir. But I honestly thought it was just hormones, or becoming a teenage girl." I hoped it was.

"It may be. And I pray that that is the case. But of course it may well be the biggest insecurity you battle with; it may be the smallest, most insignificant." He almost smiled at the thought. "Tell me of your current insecurities."

"Umm, well. When the back door is open, I close my eyes and grind my teeth together, not saying a word until I insure that the door is securely locked and shut. I hate the blinds being open in the living room. I hate that the planks in our garden fence have gaps big enough to see through. I hate hearing people outside on the street, especially children. I-" I stopped as the doctor's expression turned from calm and concentrated to alarmed.

"Oh dear goodness. It seems that you are father ahead than I had first thought. You have already entered medi-minor, and you are nearing pre-major. Your shield is getting weaker a lot quicker than I had anticipated. Now tell me, are you afraid of foreigners?"

"Well, I mean I'm not a rascist, but-"

"Are you?" The doctor urged.

"Well, yes. But only ones that don't speak my language. Americans, Australians, Scots, Welsh, English, New Zealanders, they're all fine. But yes, I am afraid of foreigners."

"Oh dear, dear, dear. You're progressing quickly." The doctor shook his head, his eyes directed towards his knees as he thought deeply. "How afraid are you?"

"Well, I wouldn't say that I'm afraid...."

"So it's not a fear?" the doctors expression changed vividly from slightly hopeful to completely stumped.

"No, it's not a fear." My voice turned to a whisper. "So it must be an insecurity."

"What are you insecure about them?"

"I always think they're going to rob me, and-"

"Any particular reason?"

"Well, we were nearly robbed when we were on holiday in Spain-"

"Okay," the doctor seemed to calm down a bit. "So that one is caused by a previous experience. We may not have to worry about that one too much."

"Which one will affect her most?" My mother piped up.

"By the looks of things, her body image should be a big insecurity. It's already progressing as we speak." He turned to me. "The second you think that you're fat or ugly, you call in and just ask the receptionist for an emergency appointment. I'll give her your name and tell her to look out for you." The doctor stood, picked up his clip board and extended a hand towards me. "But on the bright side, Miss, I have truly never met someone who has a more interesting brain than yourself. It truly does astound me." He stopped, and his eyes diverted from mine. He almost looked ashamed. "Is there any chance-." He stopped again. "Would you mind if I scheduled you for brain scan? It's just, I would love to see the activity of this certain part of your brain. It truly is fascinating."

I simply nodded. And we left.

But my shield got weaker, and so did I. I was afraid of everything, afraid to to let anyone hear my voice. The doctor said that was the worst major I would experience. Fear to speak. He said that one would cause me problems. And it did.

As time went by, my shield started to deteriorate along with my confidence and self esteem. I got to the point where I was afraid of everyone, afraid they would hurt me or talk to me or come near me. As time went by I got scared of myself. I was shelled inside a body that I was frightened; that was far worse than fear to speak. The thought of never being able to escape what you fear the most haunted me, day and night, and there was then no other conclusion. I couldn't be myself anymore, so therefore I must be someone else.

And that's how I started to change. I needed to look different, I started to loose wait, cut my hair with kitchen scissors and wear heavy make up. I finally didn't look like myself. But I still thought like myself. I needed someone new, someone who just wasn't me. And that's when I met Daphne. Daphne had a very American, girly voice. A voice that you'd expect to belong to someone wearing flip flops and blowing pink bubbles.

She had a very positive look towards life, and talked about hot guys and make up and cheerleading. I love Daphne. I was Daphne. I was so proud. I had changed myself. I was no longer afraid of myself, I was someone new. But like everyone else, I started to get frightened of Daphne. She joined the crowd of every other person I was afraid of. She was on there side. She wanted to hurt me just like everybody else. She wasn't me anymore.

I now lived in fear of everything with a heart. Even myself. And that was when the cliff edge got nearer and nearer.

One day, I fell out of a tree. I cut my elbow badly, and the next door neighbour came to see if I needed a band aid. She reached for my hand, and I flipped out. I ran to my room and screamed, locking the door and begging the non existent person not to enter. I ripped my clothes off, trying to rid me of myself, but nothing worked. I was me, inside and out.

I ended what could only be a disaster.

At my funeral, the doctor came. He spoke of me, and how amazing I was. How strong I was.

"Never, in my 37 years of medicine, have a seen a shield as strong as this little girls'. She fascinated me in every way. It is a wonder how she lived through all of it, and I'm so proud that she had the courage to face everything, to try to change everything. Most people have fears; I have a fear of planes, and my wife has a fear of wasps. But imagine, ladies and gentlemen, living in fear of yourself."




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