Alone With my Mind

Payton Cernek

"Tired"

Lindy Heister

You just sat at a table next to me, and I thought you were about to snatch me up, fold me into your briefcase, and that no one would notice because I wouldn't scream. I wouldn't fight. Because I am

small, weak, unnoticeable. Would you think that by just quickly glancing at me? Could you hear the thoughts my brain is projecting to itself? I hope not, because they’re not true.

 

Sometimes I listen to the lies I’m feeding myself even though I know they’re no good for me, and as much as  I want to spit them out, I can’t leave the table until I eat all of them. I listen and process each new idea that is put on my plate.

 

I told myself today would be different because I had to do it. I had to sit down, eat some lunch, and relax. All. By. Myself.

 

I was excited at first, driving wasn’t that bad, I busied myself in concentrating on all the trucks and semis surrounding me. I let them pass me. They had more important places to go and I was in no hurry. I parked a couple of spots away from the lump of vehicles in the surprisingly busy parking lot in front of Barnes and Noble. I didn’t want anyone to see me sitting in my car for five minutes trying to pry my hands from the steering wheel and open the door.

 

In a rush of confidence, I made it out and briskly walked towards the door that seemed like miles away. As I got closer, I noticed this old lady with a cane walking alone. I automatically slowed

down and waited to open the door for her. She smiled at me, and I did the same. I hoped it didn’t look fake, but quickly my brain stopped thinking as I had walked into a bustling community of

shoppers that were immersed in the books around them.

 

I knew that I was just a small person in the background, but it felt like everyone’s eyes were focused on me. I didn’t feel safe until I had found my corner, my spot. I was close enough to the door in case I needed to flee and was far enough from anyone else so they wouldn’t hear my heavy breathing.

 

I closed my eyes and counted to five. I opened them to find a man staring at me. I was scared at first until he spoke; a little boy’s voice came out greeting me. I was shocked; a child was stuck inside him. Without any hesitation, I returned the saying back, and before he could reply, a woman took his hand and led him away with a bunch of other adults. I didn’t think much of it until later. Because at that point I felt at ease. With just one word, that man had stopped my brain right in its tracks. For a moment, I suddenly wasn’t scared to wait in the long line to order my Chick-Fil-A or sit down alone and continue working on my homework because if that man could, so could I. My brain was still going off, but I just kept hitting the mute button until eventually, I turned the channel altogether.

 

On my way home, I was the only car on the highway, no traffic, just me and the two lanes. I took a moment to embrace the peace that came with independence. No distracting, pestering thoughts to reel in and try to control. No eyes to judge me. But why should I care so much? I know I am kind, bright, and capable. I am loved and important. Why should others' opinions of me control my life? I couldn’t hear their thoughts, just as they couldn’t hear mine.

And even if I could, no one could be as harsh as I was to myself.

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