“Hi, my name’s Krista” I offered into the silence.
I looked at the room of faces looking back at me, a peculiar mix of disinterest and eagerness in their eyes, as if they were happy to be hearing my tale, but equally happy that in an hour they would be out of this room and may never have to see my face again.
“I..” The words choked up my throat, clinging to the aching tips of my lungs like children scared to leave their mother. I knew the fear. Once the words were spoken there was no taking them back. No undoing, no ctrl+z like in the safety of my writers den.
God, I just wanted the room to swallow me whole. Deep into the darkness of the four corners that eluded my eyes, to be swept aside and left to hide in my angst and for the world to forget me. Or, more fittingly as I had not spoken the words yet, for the world to have never met me.
The silence of my fragmented start was thicker than the blood pulsing through my arteries. The swilling went right up to my head, and as I always do – as I always and always will do – I began to over think.
Should I have come?
Was it too late to back out?
Of course it was too late, stupid girl.
Just get on with it.
I tried to push the words out again, “I… I’m..” But my weaknesses on this occasion held me down like it had all those times before, and in my embarrassment and shame all I could do was lean forward and exhale. Exhale I did, and with it came the tears. Before I could help myself I was sobbing into my arms.
The room felt like it was shaking with my heaving stomach, as I tried to compose myself, swallowing down the emotions that were spilling out of me. I felt a hand on my shoulder, a girl I think, I had sat next to her because she had kind eyes. Her hand was on my shoulder, then my back, as I finally regained control over my breathing.
Even more silence.
I looked up, and took in the room. Many were looking at me with pity, one – a girl with tattoos all over her arms and calves – was staring at the clock as if she was waiting for it to run out of numbers. But mostly there was pity.
“It’s okay.” The kind girl spoke. It was nice to hear a voice in the room that wasn’t mine. She took my hand in hers briefly – her skin soft, mine soaked from sweat and tears – and gave it a squeeze.
“We’ll get through this”