Scholar-Journalist

Short story: A friend in need…

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By Siya Batra

“Have you seen the girl who lives in flat number 420?”

“Not once! She never comes out…”

I’ve heard such things about me a lot of time. One of the many reasons I am afraid to go out.

I always try to improve my situation but it rarely has any effect.

~~

Ding~

I heard the bell ring. It was quite a shock, I never order anything off the internet, and no one comes to visit me either.

My anxiety kicked in, and I decided to not open the door.

~~

The bell rang again today.

I was actually feeling okay, so I went out to check.

“Hi there! I rang your bell yesterday… but I think you weren’t at home. I’m your new neighbour! Hope we get along.” The girl in front of me said.

I was peeking from the door, trying to get myself to say something but I couldn’t find my voice.

She caught on, “Ah, please don’t feel uncomfortable. I heard it from others… about your disorder.”

But that just made me even more uncomfortable. I started sweating, and got dizzy.

~~

I woke up, covered in sweat.

Looking around, I realized I wasn’t at home.

The girl from earlier suddenly came in, “Oh, you woke up! I was making some soup for you,” She put down a bowl and a spoon on the bed I was lying on. “Be careful, it’s hot.”

She sat down. There was silence between us.

Just when I wished the silence wouldn’t end, she spoke again, “You see… My brother has had it too… I understand how you feel, so please don’t worry.”

Somehow, I didn’t really feel anxious anymore.

~~

I realized I got along well with my neighbour.

We even went out for a walk, though it was pretty late at night- when no one was around.

~~

It was this one ordinary day, I was at home.

I heard an ear-bleeding scream.

My first instinct was to lock myself in the room and hide, but I realized who the voice belonged to.

Scurrying to the window, I saw a lot of people surrounding my neighbour’s house.

Looking carefully, I recognized a fire.

“Why aren’t they calling for help?” I wondered, looking at the crowd that had gathered.

I had to do something- the fire was small at that moment, but it could spread any minute.

I had done a major in Emergency Management back when I was in college. But my social anxiety disorder hadn’t erupted then. I had perfected how to extinguish a fire all by myself.

I had to do what was right. My neighbour helped me feel so much better. Shouldn’t I pay her back?

My breath hitched, but I kept going down the stairs.

Maybe this is how I could overcome my anxiety. Maybe I too can start small, be brave and improve.

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