Childhood caused a disruption to my soul. It leaned heavy on my tender heart and left me breathless from sucking in the fumes of other people’s anger. Agitation can ease its way into a small being, who has no defense against hot and nasty words that fly through the air, landing so near to innocence, it permanently disorders the mind and makes it quake whenever a car backfires, even into old age where I find myself now.

Proving this point, recently two men stepped on each other’s toes sending them into a fury of rage over who owned the sidewalk. And here, I thought it was free to everybody. I moved onto the grass and felt my heart tighten from being too close to the fray. Suddenly, a man flew out his front door and told the rowdy pair to get off his sidewalk. Again, the sidewalk’s ownership was brought into question. The two men yanked the homeowner off his porch and began to tussle in the grass next to my red Converse Allstars I had bought for a fashion statement. My heart tightened even more.

Next thing I know I’m lying in the back of a truck where three heads lean over the front seat blaming each other for causing my death. Relieved to see my eyes open, they all pat my small body with care and assure me we’re driving to the emergency room where they keep paddles handy to shock me back to life if need be. This time I feel my entire body constrict from a constant undertow of tension that leans heavy on my soul. Five hours later, the same three men wheel me in a chair back to the truck where they fuss over who gets to sit next to me and keep me calm from an embarrassing diagnosis. “Anxiety attack,” the doctor said to me and my new friends.

I spend the ride home listening to them argue over nearly killing me. Again, my heart constricts, only this time over all the unhappy angry people and feeling grateful I’m not one of them.

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