by Sarah Wagner
A simple errand thrusts me into the bowels of hell, the press of people, their eyes shifty and staring. I try to remember that its all in my head, these strangers have no reason to look at me, no reason to stare. I’m plain, certainly not beautiful enough to appraise. I lack the curves that make a man stare, that make a woman jealous. I am nothing.
My thoughts compound the issue, whispers of imagined voices, judgmental words and snickers. But the doctor says its just my imagination that causes my blood to heat, my skin to flush, my words to trip uselessly over each other.
But they are looking at me. It isn’t my imagination. And I check my shoes - tied up tight. I check my jeans - just as they’re supposed to be. My temperature rises, blood thundering in my ears so loud that I can’t help but wonder if the people staring at me can hear it. I feel my hair, my face, but nothing seems amiss. I walk faster, frustrated that I’m not getting anywhere and there’s nowhere to hide.
How far is it to the second floor?
And that’s when I realize, I’m going the wrong way. Walking up the down escalator like a damned fool idiot who watches her feet instead of where she is going just to avoid a stranger’s smile.
I resist the urge to sit and cry and let the escalator take me back down.