She clung to her legs and squeezed her eyelids together. Come on, she said to herself. Come on, if I can just get back there one more time, I know I can figure it out. She imagined the field. She could almost taste the sweet air that had once filled her lungs. A bird flapped its wings. She opened her eyes and stared at the graffiti covered door in front of her.
Jess swung her leg out, kicking the toilet paper dispenser. The force of it reverberated in the walls and sent a shock wave through her leg. Her nose scrunched as the repugnant smell from the toilets reached her nostrils and nestled there.
Her head spun, the ground fell away from her feet. She floated on nothing, and the turning of her stomach wouldn’t stop. Jess hopped down from the toilet and threw the lid open, just in time to retch her stomach bile into the stained toilet. It only made her gag more, seeing that spill out from inside her.
Though a part of me is disappointed, I am grateful my manuscript is no longer "hanging in the balance." I received a solid "No," which means I have more places to submit it to! I have never received a rejection, other than for short stories, because I've never submitted. The fact that I had the strength to submit, finally, only gives me more hope for myself as a writer.
And besides, there were only 30 (35?) winners out of 300 - and there are some brilliant, unpublished authors out there. RUHE may not be the strongest piece of work by me, but it is the first finished piece. It is coherent, and it does have a decently strong female lead, but it is more of the typical coming of age.
But I'm very excited for Soul Therapy (again, I still need a new title) because it is less typical, and my main character suffers from huge anxiety - see excerpt above.
I think she touches on something that a lot of people overlook. Panic disorder is a real thing, something that many people struggle with, myself included. Granted, I'm not nearly as bad as Jessica is, but I find it hard to control my own emotions. A surge of fear sweeps over your every cell, the hairs on the back of your neck stretch upwards and you can't explain it, you simply are worried, panicking, over everything. You think, this is it, this is the end of the world, the end of my life. Your breath outruns you and your body starts to act like your are drowning on air.
It's heavy, it's frustrating. And a lot of people don't discuss it. Hell, a lot of people think that it is "normal" to have some anxiety. There is a difference between a stressful situation versus being unable to breathe, move, or function because you are shaking so much.
If I had known panic attacks existed when I was younger, I wouldn't have assumed that it was "normal." I would have realized that there was something different about the way I see the world. And with that knowledge, I might have handled a lot of things in my teenage years in a very different manner. Though, I must say, my curling up into a ball underneath the covers with my teeth chattering because I was freezing in 100 degree weather certainly makes for a good character. Jess is the pinnacle of that: Someone who is afraid of disappointing anyone with massive anxiety attached.
And I love her, probably a little bit too much, because she is so close to home. RUHE was the opposite. I had no knowledge of that girl's life, I had never been in her shoes - I still think her story is interesting, but I didn't have such a connection with her. Jess is different. We're kindred, and because of that, I think Soul Therapy will be my stronger piece, and possibly, the first piece I get published.