Fear creeps up behind me,
squeezing my lungs, tightening its grip with each stifled breath I take.
Panic arrives in one of its unpredictable cycles
Impossible to chart like the moon and the tides
it arrives like an unknown guest and overstays its welcome
only I don’t recall sending an invitation or opening the door to invite it in.
Counting breaths and focusing on a tiny paint drip from when I painted the room last year
I swear I’ll sand and smooth to an antique finish as soon as this violent episode passes
The walls know it’s a promise I’ll continue to repeat
Their anger punches me through imagined laughter as they close in on me faster
I try to pry fear’s grip and slide myself to the floor–
I need to touch something real.
I fall backwards and watch the ceiling drop like a free-falling elevator
All I can do is croak, “How did I get here?” and close my eyes just before it hits
The darkness cradles my razor thin concentration.
Silence falls around me
and I don’t remember where I put the sandpaper.