You’re lying in bed and it’s two o’clock in the morning. You have the house to yourself because your parents are away celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. You’re not used to being alone, but your dogs will warn you if someone tries to break in. That’s why when you hear your dog bark, you jerk up in bed, heart pounding. Then you remember that your dogs bark when the wind blows, and you lie down and tell your heart to stop beating so damn fast. But you’re awake now, and your mind decides to remind you of all the things you were supposed to have accomplished. And you know your crush doesn’t give two shits about you. And the only people who ever text you are your mother and the couple you baby-sit for.
That’s when the first stomach cramp jolts your muscles. And you think, What if I get sick while I’m alone? What if I have the stomach flu? You’ve experienced this enough to know what’s happening, So you recite the dialogue from a movie you watch when you need a distraction. Doesn’t work. You walk around the house, turn on the TV. You feel as if you’re standing outside in July wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Then you’re standing in snow in February. And the stomach cramps make you curl up on the bathroom floor, and you’re shaking, and you’re thinking it’s not going to stop. I’m going to die. But that’s stupid, and you know it’s stupid. And you want to call someone for help but it’s two in the morning and your mom’s turned her phone off. Last week you listened to your dad mock his brother’s anxiety while you stabbed your dinner with a fork. If you call your parents, your dad will say you’re overreacting. He’ll say you’re getting worked up over nothing, calm down. And your mom will say, ‘sweetie, have you tried praying?’ Like you haven’t tried that. You’re praying now, God, make it stop, please make it stop.
When the stomach cramps and shaking stops, you lean against the wall and wonder if you can sympathize with a runner who completed a marathon. You drag your body back to your room. Collapse on your bed, and pray it won’t happen again.