There is nothing I would love more than to make you leave for good. To tell you to never come back and you comply without a second thought.

               I’ve tried, believe me. You always come back.

               You make it hard to sleep, then you haunt my dreams. You turn excitement into fear, and confidence into worry.

               Do you remember that night last year? I had the lead role in the play of my dreams. Sure, it was a play at our local community theatre and not Broadway, but I memorized every line, every pause, and every dramatic hand motion or fake cry. I bubbled over with confidence and bewilderment at the thought that after all that hard work, and all those auditions, I had made it. I was the lead. The star.

               I looked at my costume with big eyes and a smile. A medieval costume made with luxurious silk hung on a metal hanger. Extravagant buttons and ribbons and other things I had never had the pleasure of having on my own clothes covered every square inch of the fabric. Fancy leather shoes that had been polished to the bare material glimmered in the light from the bedside lamp.

               I gave my costume one last look and set the alarm on my phone for 5:30am. I sat on my bed and turned my lamp off. It made a tiny click. The blankets felt warm as I gave out a sigh and thought about my big day tomorrow. I knew my performance would be a showstopper, the type that made people throw roses at you with tears in their eyes.

               But as I laid in my bed, thrilled for the next day, you changed all of that.

               What if I forget a line? What if I make a mistake and ruin the show? What if I’m not good enough for this?

               By morning, I didn’t want the part anymore.

               Do you know how hard you make everyday life?

               Meeting new people.

               Giving my oral report that I spent hours perfecting.

               Asking for ketchup in a restaurant. Silly things.

             Ordering at fast food places has always been somewhat of a dread. I rehearse fifty-four times in my head what I’m going to say. I sweat. As I walk up to the counter, I recite my script with painful delivery.

             “A number seven combo, please.” That’s it. That’s all it ever is. But you whisper every possible thing that could go wrong in my ear. What if my mint falls out while I’m talking? What if I don’t have enough cash? What if they are out of fries and I don’t have a backup side picked out?

             You torment me.

             What about when I had surgery two months ago? Do you remember what you did to me?

               I bet you don’t even remember how miserable you made me in the days leading up to it. But I do. I remember the afternoon two days before.

               I picked out my favorite pair of fuzzy pajamas and rolled them up tightly in a small duffle bag. I unzipped my toiletry bag and triple checked to make sure I had everything on my list. I did.

               I sauntered over to my bookcase and looked for a nice book to read. My beloved book collection included great titles like Moby Dick and Lord of the Rings. I reached for the Giver by Lois Lowry. It still managed to keep its charm after reading it four times. Hugging the book close to my chest, I picked up my bag and made room for the book in a side pocket. Hopefully, that would keep me occupied for four days.

               I tried to think of the hospital stay like a vacation, and to be honest with myself, I hadn’t been too worried about it. I had my reservations like anyone else would, but I did my best to keep them far from the front of my mind.

              I sat on a yoga ball in the corner of my room.

             No big deal, just three days. I’m sure it won’t hurt too bad. Yeah, Google says it’s one of the most painful surgeries you can get, but at least the pain will be over in a few weeks. I silently scolded myself for looking anything up on Google. Google could convince you that a light stomachache was internal bleeding.

 The smile I had carried on my face started to tremble. I cried. I bawled, actually.

The emotion I had pushed away for a month rushed out all at once.

I let you get the best of me.

I didn’t sleep much that night.

Do you remember the night before surgery? The morning of?

I do. I remember my mom and I both set our alarms on full volume to make sure we didn’t oversleep. I remember taking a hot shower and eating nothing for breakfast, all while it felt like you were eating my stomach lining.

My family couldn’t come with me because of Covid restrictions, so my mom and I got in the car alone and drove to the hospital.

It was the worst four days of my life, and you made it so much worse.

I’m sure you are aware of the nightmares you’ve been giving me. You’d have to be, or I wouldn’t still be getting them.

The ones that leave me in cold sweats at 3:00am. The ones that leave me praying in bed that they won’t continue when I fall back asleep. The ones that make me dread going to sleep the next night.

How about last night? Do you remember last night?

It had been such a pain-free day. I had rearranged my room and organized my books by color. I made yeast rolls.

I wiped my hands on my apron and scurried into my room to grab my shoes. My brother was on the porch, and he had to taste a roll.

I spotted my tan slip-ons and leaned over.

I’m sure you remember this bit, don’t you? The part where I bent over wrong? The part where it took all my strength to keep from yelping in pain?

It was a false alarm. Just a tweak. But you didn’t know that. And you made me think the whole night that I would have to have surgery again. You scared me half to death. My pillow was soaked on both sides within fifteen minutes. I prayed until my throat hurt. I had quoted every Bible verse I could remember. I think I physically wore myself out crying and shaking because sleep came easy.

I had a nightmare last night. But you knew that.

Regardless of how much you remember tormenting me, it doesn’t matter. You will remember tonight.

Tonight, I’m cutting the power.

I won’t let you torment me anymore. I won’t let you take over my dreams.

I hear the audible click of a lamp in my brain as try my hardest to turn you off. I think of you like my bedside lamp, with your tiny clicking switch.

I can hear you laughing at me. Who am I kidding? I have never been able to turn you off. You always come back to steal my sleep and to rob me of peaceful dreams. You always come back to make me fret over every little thing.

I would love nothing more than to cause a power outage. To cut your main breaker.

But alas, my dear Anxiety, you will always find a way to turn the lights back on.


September 11, 2020 00:31

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Genevieve Taylor
03:22 Sep 17, 2020

I am at a loss for words. This story took my breath away. It was absolutely incredible. I genuinely don't know what to say; I adored everything about it. This blew me away. (See now you've taken my words, my breath, AND my entire being. That is how you know you're a good writer!) This is one of the most unique, well-written stories I've ever read on here. Fantastic job! Stay safe and PLEASE KEEP WRITING! -Vieve


Mackenzie Meetz
13:54 Sep 18, 2020

Wow, thank you so much. It means more than you know.


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Amaya .
01:29 Sep 11, 2020

this story...I have no words. Truly. It is one of the best short stories I've ever read, for sure. No doubt about it. It's heartfelt and sad, and it made me want to cry but in the best way possible. Mackenzie, NEVER stop writing because this is AMAZING. If you ever published a book, I would be the first to buy. Wow.


Mackenzie Meetz
19:32 Sep 11, 2020

Wow, your comment made me want to cry but in the best way possible. Thank you so, so, so much.


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01:06 Sep 11, 2020

This was AMAZING! Such a unique story, with the person talking to US, or her ‘Anxiety’. Really sad but really heartfelt. Beautiful. Awesome job!


Mackenzie Meetz
19:33 Sep 11, 2020

I appreciate that so much. It means more than you know:)


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Mackenzie Meetz
00:32 Sep 11, 2020

Hello, everyone! Thank you for reading this. It is far less optimistic than what I usually write, but I poured my heart into it. I hope you like it.


Genevieve Taylor
03:17 Sep 17, 2020

It was gorgeous! Your hard work paid off. :)


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Zea Bowman
13:25 Sep 21, 2020

Wow! I loved reading this story; it was full of great descriptions and I loved the way you ended it. The words seemed to flow effortlessly together. Could you please come read some of my stories? Thanks :)


Mackenzie Meetz
17:41 Sep 21, 2020

Thank you so much for the feedback! Absolutely:)


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