Hushing the beast

After sharing with you two of my old short stories, The Price of a Desire and The Envelope, I want to share with you piece I originally wrote for my first blog. It’s the about the power of printed paper and how much it can help through difficult times.


Foto di Stefan Keller da Pixabay

Hushing the Beast

She doesn’t even need to open her eyes to realize.

She senses it. It’s there again.

Creeping panic, irrational fear, anxiety plunging its claws in her flesh. A savage and furious beast, a ravenous, ruthless and noisy beast, who brushes her consciousness edges, waiting for her to awake completely before launching its full force attack. She perceives it, climbing from her stomach to her chest, from her chest to her throat, from her throat to her eyes, that refuse to open.

Why? Why again?

Every part of her body is as heavy as lead. The simplest action requires strenuous effort, an inhuman exertion.

Where all of this comes from? Yesterday she was fine. She didn’t expect this crisis, not now she was better again. Out of the blue she is at the starting point, crying with no apparent reason, struggling just to get out of bed.

An invisible claw grips her chest, making breathing difficult. An all-consuming emptiness digs a hole in her stomach. It’s the beast that launches its attack.

Every motion seems heavy, tiring, unbearable. Life itself appear impossible to deal with.

One moment her fear clouded mind tries to shake the numbness off in search of the source of those damn tears. The next all of her being clams up, refusing to think.

With an incredible effort, a hand ventures out of the bed-clothes searching for a tissue. With no help from her eyes, still closed, her fingers brush the sheets to the edge of the bed, find the bedside table and run along beyond the lamp. There must be some handkerchiefs here.

Her fingertips brush against some paper, but it’s not the tissue-kind. A smooth surface. A spine. Pages. On their own accord, her fingers close around the book, dragging it to the bed, on the pillow, near her face. 

Even before feeling the pages on her cheek, she smells the book. Printed pages’ fragrance is unmistakable and always different. This one smells like a new car and chips.

Thinking about food makes her already torn stomach clench. She focuses on the new car smell instead. It’s relaxing, pure, clean, pristine and full of possibilities.

The grip on her chest, unbearable a moment ago, recedes a little now. Her tearful eyes open and some drops slip down, run along her cheeks and leave a wet trace on the page. 

Her open eyes now can see: words.

At first, the printed symbols make little sense. Then the letters arrange in words, words arranges in sentences and the sentences build an alternative reality. The beast is less famished, less aggressive. The tears dry off.

Other words, other sentences gain a meaning and picture landscapes, outline characters, tell stories. Without even realizing it, she sits on the bed, the bed-clothes piled at her feet, her eyes dry and the book in her hands.

With every new sentence, the emptiness in her stomach fills up, the grip on her chest loosens, life becomes bearable, and the prospect of getting up and beginning a new day is not so intolerable anymore. The words she needed were right there on her bedside table, closed between the pages of a book, waiting for her to realize she just needed a weapon to hush the beast.

Do you have a special book in your heart? One that saved you or helped you through a difficult time? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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