Claustrophobia

December 3, 2008
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I stood outside the corner doughnut shop waiting for Erica to come from the apartment buildings. We arranged to meet in front of the shop so we could leave together. The sidewalk was crowded, men in black ties carrying briefcases, walking briskly, checking their watches every few strides; women in pen straight skirts and white blouses, talking rapidly into cell phones, eying everyone they passed, clutching their purses tightly in fear of them being snatched. There were a few children, an occasional mother pushing a stroller, rummaging through the diaper bag in the back. It was a typical midday in downtown Sapaflat. There was so much noise, the cars on the streets, the people, yet a vast silenced my mind, where is she? I watched the multitudes of people pass me on the street, going about their usual Saturday morning schedules. They stared at me when they passed by like I was an apparition, like they never saw a girl standing alone in front of a doughnut shop.
I heard the whispers n my mind before I saw her coming. I could picture already her curly hair bouncing around her hears as she raced down the sidewalk. She moved toward me gasping, out of breath. Erica grabbed hold of my arm, steadying herself with a deep breath as she prepared to speak. “I’m sorry I’m late,” she said straightening her posture and pushing back her hair. ‘I got a phone call; Michael won’t be able to take us.”
I sighed, “Don’t worry, I don’t mind if we take a cab,” I replied, though I’d rather walk. I hate taking cabs around the city now; I don’t like the fact that I can’t see the driver and I don’t know him.

We hailed a taxi and I slowly let the thoughts filter into my mind, clashing with the outside noise. I heard a woman, great, coffee all over my new shirt, and I have a presentation, what will I do? And fragments. I can’t believe; it’s too hot today; where did I put it; oh no it’s that guy again; just smile and everything will be fine.

Then I heard it, what I was dreading. Ah finally some customers. The taxi cab pulls up, Erica rushes to the door. Two very pretty girlies. “Hurry up Monica! Get in already!” Erica was already in the cab so I slide in next to her.
“Where to, ladies?” the driver asked, and peered trough the rear mirrors. I stared through the window that separated us from the driver. The glass was fogged, I couldn’t see his face but I could hear, where should I take them? They don’t look like they are meeting anyone. Oh no, I thought. Looking about wildly hoping there was someone else near whose thoughts I could possibly be overhearing. Erica started to say the address “399…” but I interrupted her by opening the door and dragging her out. “Hey!” she exclaimed. I pulled her down the side walk, the voices surrounding us-me. I’m alone in this. I can’t explain to Erica why I pulled her from the cab, I could only make up an excuse, “I’m sorry, I’m claustrophobic, it was too close in there.” I tell her. She sighs, “Its okay, we can walk.”





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