The group of teenagers behind me laugh.

I’m sitting by the corner. Trying to look busy, but I haven’t looked at the open page in front of me and seen the words.

I gaze outside, the lady holding a man’s hand smiles, he smiles back.

I blink and look down.

What I’m I doing here?

I’m not ready.

I shouldn’t be happy.

My counsellor thinks sitting in public and just listening to others will help.

I can’t stand being in the house anymore.

Too many memories.

I hear the cries, the yelling, the arguing, drawers banging, doors slamming.

I’ve forgotten how laughter sounded in that house.

My memory is full of bleak days.

I wanted to change our life, smile now and then.

You should try to smile and see how goes, my counsellor keeps telling me.

How does smiling even feel?

I don’t even remember how my genuine laugh sounded.

The voices insides my head and ones around me overlap.

No I can’t afford to have a panic attack.

I’ve come a long way.

My chest raises fast, things start to blur, my fingers feel tingly, the voices around me echo.

I should run out of here.

Try and challenge yourself. If you feel the panic, try and breathe, but don’t leave your seat, my counsellors voice slips into my thoughts.

Maybe I’ll be able to do it today.

The cries become louder in my head.

I’m pleading, he’s yelling at me to stop pretending we are a perfect family.

Maybe we were never a perfect family.

Why did I try to make ours? They might be still here if I hadn’t pretended.

Just breath, just breath, my counsellors voice breaks through again


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