Danger is everywhere.
My paranoia knows no boundaries of normal or over the line. Everything is almost lethal.
My flame retardant sheets threaten to strangle me as the brain melting waves of my alarm clock jar me from sleep. The shock makes my heart race, which might bring on a stroke, and my fingers are threatened by splinters as I brush the end table to silence the potentially ear shattering noise.
My bare feet are swallowed by soft house shoes made in a country known for adding lead to their products and the ultra violet rays from my reading lamp try to pierce me with skin cancer as I head for the bathroom.
The water in my shower may burn me if I stay in too long and I can feel the unfiltered chemicals sinking into my bloodstream. Without knowing if I may develop an allergic reaction to the material, I dry and dress, eyeing the damp floor warily.
The steps leer at me, warning of broken bones and I hold tightly to the rail, risking yet more splinters while I move to the most unprotected room of my rickety home.
Fixing breakfast almost comes with severed fingers and burning alive and as I eat, I risk choking on my eggs and toast. The juice has pulp, doubling the danger, and I read the paper carefully, wincing at all the paper cuts I might get.
The buttons on my coat try to snatch me bald and the umbrella in my grip smiles slyly as I step out into the wilderness. The dry and safe looking sidewalk must be a trap and I walk through the razor sharp blades of grass, trying not to think about all the germs in the dirt that I will have to scrub from my shoes later.
The air I breathe is poison, the sun shines down another dose of potentially lethal cancer, and the noises of the passing traffic and voices of the people weaken my already wounded ears.
I walk slowly, with an eye on the cloudless sky that could drench me if my umbrella fails, exposing me to pneumonia or a sore throat.
I wait for my ride with strangers who might be dangerous, poor at the very least, and I try to hide under the scratchy cloth of my coat, inhaling of lead-based products to avoid making eye contact that might provoke them into attacking.
The bus could have hit me as it stopped and the metal stairs grab at the hem of my jeans as I get on. The hard seats are waiting to impale me when the driver slams on the brakes too hard and I cringe from all the germs I am being exposed to as I sit. The window looks like it might shatter at any wrong turn and the potentially burning heat blowing in my face surely contains harmful chemicals, as everything leaks into the air I breathe.
On the ride, I escaped any number of horrible fates, like rape, murder, and sitting in gum. I may have missed my stop and gotten off in the wrong place or even been decapitated in a fiery bus/car accident. On another day, I may be followed as I exit, and the shiny, metal stairs wink at me knowingly.
The crosswalk wants to change while I’m in the middle of the street so I can be run down by a driver busy texting and I can feel the oil from passing cars making the road in front of me slicker, so I will fall and break a hip or a nail.
The tall, barely maintained office buildings start to crumble as I pass, I can feel it, and the revolving glass door cannot decide if it wants to wound me or trap me inside until I suffocate. It settles for trying to crush me and I step quickly out of the way as the door I have come for finally is in sight.
Before I can get inside the office, dozens of people threaten to knock me down where I could break another hip and the chime over the knob weakens as I watch, wanting to fall and split my head open. The welcome mat threatens to trip me and the loud slam of the door makes me wince as it tries to deafen me.
The receptionist looks up, nods at me, then sniffs indelicately. I avoid her possibly contagious plague and head for the back room, my sanctuary.
I swipe my card through the machine designed to give me radiation sickness and the walls of the dimly lit hall come alive and taunt me with closing in until I cannot get enough oxygen into my lungs. The shriek of the admittance buzzer makes me flinch and I slide into the dark room with a sigh of relief.
I am safe here.
I stride confidently now, the plastic desk waiting for me, and I sit in the cushy chair with a smile, reaching for the button. Now I can work. I pick up the laminated file with no fear of paper cuts.
"Please send in my first patient."
"Yes, Doctor." I open the file to remind myself what mental defect this nut-job had. Obsessive, compulsive paranoia. No problem. That was right up my alley.
This story is in the flash fiction collection, Twists & Turns.
"This is Safe Haven Refugee Camp. Can anyone hear me?
Hello? Is anyone out there?"
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