Hushing the beast – Short story #4

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

She can feel it. It’s there again.

That creeping panic, that irrational fear, that anxiety that plunges 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 can feel it climb from her stomach to her chest, from her chest to her throat, from her throat to her eyes, that don’t want to open.

Why? Why again now?

She feels every part of her body heavy like lead. Every little action seems to require strenuous effort, seems an impossible task, an inhuman exertion.

Where all of this comes from? Yesterday she was fine. Well, almost. For sure, she didn’t expect this crisis, just now she was beginning feeling better again. Out of the blue she is at the starting point, crying without any apparent reason, fighting to put trough the simple task of getting out of bed.

An invisible claw is gripped around her chest and make breath 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 that damned tears. The moment after all of her being clams up, refusing to think.

With an incredible effort, a hand ventures out of the bed-clothes to look for a tissue. Without any help from her eyes, still closed, her fingers brush the sheets till the edge of the bed, find the bedside table wood and run along beyond the lamp. There must be some tissues here.

Her fingertips brush against some paper, but it’s not the tissue-kind. A smooth surface. A spine. Pages.

Without the need of a direct order, her fingers close around the book and bring it in the bed, on the pillow, near her face.

Even before she feels the pages on her cheek, she can smell the book. Printed pages’ fragrance is unmistakable and, at the same time, always different. This one smells a little like a new car and a little like chips.

Thinking about food make her stomach, already torn to pieces by the beast, lurch. She focuses on the new car smell instead, that it’s much more relaxing, pure, clean, pristine and full of possibilities.

The grip on her chest, unbearable until a moment ago, seems a little less clutched now. Her eyes, still misty with tears, get open and some drops slip down, run along her cheeks and leave a wet trace on the page, where a stain appears.

Her eyes, by now completely open, see: words.

At first they only appear as printed symbols, placed side by side without a sense. Then little by little, the letters arrange in words, words arranges in sentences and the sentences start building an alternative reality. The beast seems a little less famished, a little less aggressive. The tears dries off.

Other words, other sentences gain a meaning and picture landscapes, outline characters, tell stories. Without even realize it, she finds herself sitting 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 begin a new day is not so intolerable anymore. The word she needed to hear were right there on her bedside table, closed between the pages of a book, waiting for her to realize she needed a weapon to hush the beast.

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