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ENG1WYL Story: Disquiet

by Caroline Seawright
Year 1 Essay for Writing Your Life at LaTrobe University, Aug 2010.



I know that something is wrong.

Dread surges through my body, coalescing into a solid block of ice in the pit of my stomach. Every breath becomes a struggle. My pulse quickens and my stomach tightens around its cold, hard centre and my attention focuses on the past.

It happens when I am awoken during the night by sudden, unexplained noises. That Saturday night, months ago, I was startled out of a deep sleep. The darkness in my bedroom was not absolute; light seeped in around the blinds, illuminating patches of the wall opposite my bed. The constant hum of the traffic filled my ears, but rising above it came the screaming which set off that sinking, cold feeling inside and my body trembled.

Voices screaming, screeching, yelling. Abuse, anger.

So loud that I thought, in my semi-lucid state, that they were just under my window. But that was ridiculous - I was on the third floor! None the less I gripped my doona to me, frozen in place; just listening. I could hear the disembodied voices of two men and a woman; their anger echoing around the empty carpark beneath my window, reverberating up to my ears, seeping into me and filling me with fear. Clutching the quilt around me, I sank lower into my bed as my body rebelled against my wish to flee. I could not move. I could scarcely breathe. I lay there, hearing their hate screamed at each other for what seemed an eternity. Sleep did not come until after the argumentative druggies had vacated the area, after the feeling passed and I could move, and after I had looked outside the window and seen a police car cruised on by. Yet whilst as I am writing now, in the night lit only by a single lamp radiating soft orange light throughout my room, I can hear the sudden unexpected sounds of power-tools and saws outside. They echo up to my room, as did the screaming, and yet that queasy anxious fear has faded. But still, I cannot look out the window at this potential break-in, nonetheless.

The feeling is something more. It's something that held me fast in its grip for so many months after a co-worker's death. Every little sound terrified me. Jumpiness, nervousness and fear walked with me daily. It is like the tendrils of my hyperthyroidism had reached back in time, and toyed with my emotions, as my body reacted to their every twitch. At other times, strangely, and much less dramatically, the ice block solidifies in my belly when simple personal interactions seem like a fight or flight situation.

It was perhaps a year ago when I was woken from my sleep, the scraping of metal against glass loudly in my ear.

Screech, screech, screeeeeech!

My window!
Someone was there.
A metal ladder scratching upon the window!

Anxiousness, along with a more than healthy flood of adrenalin, pumped through my body as I flew from my bed, as I threw myself out of my room and down the stairs, ducking the front facing windows, and ending in a crumpled heap on the floor downstairs just outside my sister's bedroom door. I can't actually recall being anywhere in between. I half sat on the floor, my heart pounding in my ears in the deathly silence.

No smashing upstairs. No scuttling of an intruder running away with his ladder.

My body refused to respond to my need, instead locking me within my shivering body. After an eternity, slowly the feeling left me and I tried to get off the ground. My head spun and my body tingled with a faintness that swept through me. I fought it, and managed to stand. My mouth was still dry, but I got my sister out of bed.

My brave sibling headed outside in her PJs, her red hair tussled from sleep, where she surveyed the area with sleepy hazel eyes. No-one was there; there was nothing to be seen. However, the darkness was all pervasive around the spindly tree and thick bushes below my bedroom window. I did not leave the pool of light at the porch, imagining eyes watching me from within the brush. My sister returned, and we both went inside. I suspect she was somewhat perplexed when she went back to bed. I also eventually headed back to bed, and my tired body overwhelmed even the horrid feeling inside, and I finally slept.

It was exactly one week later, to the hour, when I was again awoken in the middle of the night by the same sound. This time, despite my anxiety induced instinct to flee, I stayed in bed and listened.

Screech, screech, screech! Screech, screech, screech!

Thump, thump,
        thump, thump,
                thump, thump,
                        thump, thump, thump ... thump ... thump ... thump... thump..........

It was a damned possum running the length of the roof, skittering from tin to tile!
So much for anxiety being a warning of wrongness in the world around me!

Apprehensiveness still freezes my being when I am awoken in the middle of the night by strange sounds. Considering it now, these psychosomatic episodes are closely linked to my hyperthyroidism; it is almost surprisingly clear to me now that the strongest anxiety attacks actually served to precipitate significant episodes of my condition. The death of a co-worker; the shooting outside my Williams Street office; a housemate's window breaking and her stalking by her ex. Twice before I have been weaned off medication as my body has restored itself. Considering everything, this third time will probably not be the last. My life will always be full of anxiety and blood tests, but at least this small workshop epiphany will also remain with me.

Now that it's daytime I can see a gaping black hole in the old, super-sized industrial air-conditioning machine in the carpark downstairs. That's what last night's sawing was about! Someone spent the time and effort to machine their way into the metal box to steal electrical bits and pieces. This was not worth the stress it caused me.

How odd.

Seawright, C , Disquiet, Short Story, < kunoichi/themestream/ disquiet.html>.

© Caroline 'Kunoichi' Seawright 2010 - present

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