I pause. My hand wavers over the four sailboat hooks beside my front door. The yellow hook has a hat hanging from it and the blue one has my spare car key on a heart shaped key ring dangling from its tail. This leaves the red and white hook. My stomach quivers and threatens to upset.
Will someone die if I hang it on the white hook?
No, that’s ridiculous.
But a car accident, that’s possible.
The keys slip on my sweaty fingers. I fight with the muscles in my arm so it slides over an inch to hover before the red hook. Red for love.
But white for the Holy Spirit.
I slam the keys down on the white hook and take a step back, only to immediately come forward again, lift the keys from the hook, flip them around, and place them backwards on the sailboat. I think for a moment and then turn them back again. Air catches in my throat as I breath in
Safe, safe, safe. My mantra slides across my vision.
With a frustrated growl, I propel myself through the hall, away from the keys, and throw my shoes from my feet. One lands tipped sideways against the wall.
Shoes don’t like sitting like that.
Using my toes, I rearrange the shoes so they sit beside one another nicely. Five pairs of shoes line the hall, each one sits beside the next equally spaced apart and perfectly arranged. Hiding behind a closet in the hall is a cardboard box filled with a tumbling pile of shoes I seldom wear.
I fill the green cup in the bathroom with cold water and let its coolness slide down my throat. Setting it down, I twist it so its square edge lines up perfectly against the sink. Pausing, I stare at the cup and then inch it closer to the toothbrush holder, waiting for the moment when it will feel right. I move it back the inch.
It never feels right.
Safe, safe, safe. I stare at my reflection as I think these words. My fists clench suddenly so fingernails scratch into my skin. The pain brings me back into my body and out of my mind.
The water I drank sits heavily in my stomach and I sit down on the toilet as if the water weighs me down. My back curves, hands fold into lap, knees tuck inward and I pray I never have to move again.
I want to stay here where I am safe from my nervous fear. Thoughts bounce between my ears and clamber together so loudly I fear my neighbors will ask why I make such a racket.
I forgot to get milk.
Haltingly, I stand and hobble back to the front door.
Who will die?
Someone will get hurt.
Your car will get smooshed by a truck.
“Stop!” My voice sounds pathetically quiet compared to the words in my head. “Safe, safe, safe.” I say out loud to make sure I have actually thought, and said them. I need it to be true.
Closing my eyes, I breathe deeply. Air fills my belly, lungs, and throat. Sharp pain pulls at my ribs. Without looking, I lift the keys and walk out the door, ignoring the second guesses in my head.