Back at work. In the room where you locked the door. In the room where you locked the door and closed the blinds and sat. Sat on the floor, in the corner. Feeling each breath. Forcing each breath to be slower. Closing your eyes against the prickle of tears.
The room is the same. Same books. Same files. Same desk. Same blinds, still closed.
You feel each breath. You force each breath to be slower.
You force each breath
To be slower
You switch on the computer. The machine whirrs. The screen flickers. An update. Months of updates.
You need out. You need out of the room.
You open the window, floors up, locked so it doesn’t fully open. A gap you can barely get your arm through.
You need out.
The door locks behind you.
You walk up the stairs. A smile greets you under tousled dark hair.
You nod, try to smile.
– It’s nice to see you back.
You try to smile, nod.
– How are you?
How much to explain? How do you start? Where do you start?
– Getting there.
-What was wrong?
You try to smile.
You try to smile.
You try to.
– I’ve got PTSD.
The look. The moment you mention it there is the look.
And there is the decision. Some nod. Move on. She asks.
– What happened?
And you stand there, and you know that it is out of concern or curiosity and she does not know that it took you weeks to share the details with the woman in the room you visit every week, looking away as you told her, eyes on the door, or on the floor, arms crossed tighter across your chest, the itch on your left ear best reached by stretching your right hand round the back of your head as your left hand reached under your right arm and feels the jut of your shoulderblade,
And she is waiting.
And you know how many people know, and that you do not need to tell.
The awkwardness of the silence leads to her head lowering,
you do not need to tell
peering through the fringe.
you do not want to tell
– Sorry. I don’t mean to.
you do not
– Stuff happened.
You wave your hand, glance to the window.
– Some stuff.
You look at the floor.
– Some stuff. A while ago.
Yes. Some stuff.