Paragon

So tired… 😴

friends at lunch

Paragon

“A paragon of anxiety, that’s me.” I let my head fall onto the table.

“It’ll be alright.”

“Maybe for you it would be, but me? Paragon. Anxiety. Remember?” I say to the table, as if it can help. All it does is muffle my words.

A sigh, weary. “Come on, Alex, it won’t be that bad. It’s an interview, that’s good, right?”

“That was the idea. Then it happened. Now it’s not.”

A throat cleared. “The chicken with a side-order of chips?”

Heat burns my cheeks. The meal.

I raise my hand. “Yes. Thank you.” Why doesn’t the ground swallow me right now?

The waiter puts my plate down and a “thank you” fumbles from my lips. He turns with a roll of his eyes.

I stare down at my food. Why did I ever order this? Why did I ever agree to come here today? Why didn’t I just stay home with the covers firmly pulled over my head?

Whoever thought it would be a good idea for me to apply for a job?

Nik nudges me under the table with her foot. “Eat. It’s good. It’ll help.”

Grudgingly, I pick up my fork, then my knife. “I don’t know how to do this.”

She mimics eating and I shoot her a glare. “Not that. Life. People. Interviews.” The word sends chills over my skin and a shudder up my spine.

“You can. You’ve done it before, right?”

“Yeah, and look how that ended.” I stab a chip. Cathartic.

“That wasn’t cos of the interview, was it? Different thing from where I’m sitting.”

Where she was sitting was in a much easier life. “So much better. My life came crashing down cos of my failure. Cos I couldn’t cope.”

Nik gives me a measured look. Unimpressed with my tantrum. “You wanted this because you’re fed up with being stuck. You can do it. And Sam leaving you and screwing you over like that was not your fault. Anyone would have struggled to cope.” She stabs one of her own chips, angry lines between her eyes.

But not everyone would have fallen apart.

I taste the chicken as I let her words find their way past the resistance in my mind. It’s good. And I know there must be at least a little truth in her words.

“Still a paragon of anxiety though.”

She smiles and shakes her head. “Okay, you can have that one.”


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