"Minefields- A Walk with OCD"

Submitted by Im Salazar to Contest #3 in response to: Write a story about an ordinary day in a person's life. Use their internal dialogue to make the story interesting.... view prompt

I check the lock of the door once on the inside and then again when I step outside. Once I step onto the concrete path, I turn right and walk until I reach the main sidewalk. Turn left to go for either a typical walk, to take the 22 Clark bus or the Metra train, to go to my girlfriend’s house, or to get a donut or ice cream. Turn right to go to either the grocer’s, Warren Park, my best friend’s house, or for an atypical, rearward walk. Today, I think I will take a typical walk. 

Turn left. Two steps in the first sidewalk square, then three steps in the following two and so on. I count. 

One, two.

One, two, three. 

One, two, three.

One, two. 

One, two, three. 

One, two, three.

I continue along the sidewalk as my eyes stay stalking the ground. Do not step on a crack. Do not step on a leaf. Do not step on a rock. Do not step on a twig. Good. 

One, two.

One, two, three.

One, two, three.

One, two.

One, two, three.

One, two, three. 

Then I reach the minefield; my neighbor, Ellen’s, stretch of torturous sidewalk. No matter the season, I cannot escape the grasp of the Minefield. I just sigh in relief that it is not yet fall- a season a cherish, yet possibly the worst season for me and my OCD. That stretch of treacherous sidewalk is constantly scattered with leaves, twigs, seeds/nuts, and whatever else falls from those damned trees. I rise up on my tippy toes, take a deep breath in, regret not bringing one of my little friends (my plush toys) with me to help ease the pain, and regret not deciding to cross the street where there are little to no minefields.


Do not step on a crack. 

Do not step on a leaf.

Do not step on a rock. 

Do not step on a twig.

Do not step on a seed or nut. 

I repeat again.

Do NOT step on a CRACK.

Do NOT step on a LEAF.

Do NOT step on a ROCK.

Do NOT step on a TWIG.

Do NOT step on a SEED OR-


Shit. My right foot stepped on a small nut. Now I have to find a nut of that same size and same shape and step on it with my left foot exactly where I did with my right foot so I stand on my tippy toes and my eyes dart back and forth and up and down and back and forth and up and down and back and forth and up and down to find a nut that same size and shape- that same size and shape- that same size and shape and I when find one and step on it I have to be exact- be exact!- because if I do not do it exactly the same- exactly the same- as I did with my right foot- right foot- then I have to step on it until I get it correct- until I do it right- do it exact and then I’ll have to do whatever else I did with my left foot now with my right foot until everything evens out- until everything is perfect!-perfect!-perfect!

I am done now. Everything is okay again and my body is still a little sweaty and trembly. I finish going through the Minefield and proceed with my walk. I continuously think the Minefield is the hardest part of my walk, but it’s not- it’s not. Because then I have to deal with numerous broken sidewalks where I have to have both feet in a smaller but larger section of the break and/or step in two equally sized smaller cracks to maintain the symmetry- symmetry. Then I have to deal with the shadows the tree trunks, branches, and leaves, as well as the lamp posts, make on the sidewalk and decide if I will only step in the shadows for a certain amount of time or if I will choose the sunny parts of the sidewalk, instead. And then there is the rest of the scattered, but usually minimal, debris on the sidewalk. And with my head glued to the floor, I have to also remember to look up every now and then to make sure no one is following me or simply trying to kill me- anyone- anyone!- is a suspect. And that’s just walking around my quiet, little neighborhood, not considering the numerous minuscule auditory triggers that make everything worse that usually my mother wouldn’t even hear or be bothered by but stresses me out exhaustingly. And she does not know how I leave the house- as if there are no triggers there, too. But I understand. You know, the way we figured out I needed help and that we needed to find out what was wrong with me was when my mother had a necklace hanging from the rearview mirror and she made it swing. I stopped it but she bat at it again like a cat. So I stopped it again and she swung it again, playing tennis with the necklace- back and forth- back and forth- back and forth. And I was getting really stressed out, but she didn’t know. And then her necklace clasp was showing and she wouldn’t let me fix it-fix it. And I began to cry. I think we were both surprised and scared by that. So it is hard and it is stressful but it’s my life- my life- and I have to live with it because the only therapy for OCD- OCD- is exposure therapy and that’s like intentionally- intentionally- walking through the Minefields. I do exposure therapy every day and I will not pay someone to cause me more pain- I won’t- I won’t. I can’t. I can still live my life fine- fine- and I just close my eyes and plug my ears and hum if I can’t stop the sound- stop the sound- or stop the movement- stop the movement. 


So I continue my walk. 

One, two.

One, two, three.

One, two, three.

Do not step on a crack.

Do not step on a leaf.

Do not step on a rock. 

Do not step on a twig.

One, two.

One, two, three.

One, two, three.


I walk endlessly through minefields. 


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