Anxiety

Solitude preferable, though sometimes impossible.

This evening brings people I know; people I have to get along with, yet we have little in common.

Smile, nod, shake hands. ‘How’s the family? How’s the job? How’s life?’

My God the small talk is killing me.

I excuse myself. Smoke a cigarette apart from humanity; take the time to regroup. Don my armor, charge back into battle.

The pleasant look is on my face. ‘I’m enjoying myself’ that look says.
‘I’m one of you.’

I blend in. Stay on defense. I’m witty, charming. Riposte, deflect; the best offense is a great defense, or so they say.

The hours crawl by; where is the end? My parries are weak, my feints? Faint. My mood darkens. If I were to be honest, it wasn’t burning like Polaris to begin with.

I sit at my table, surrounded by people but alone. Contributing now only arbitrarily to the conversation. Nods, shrugs, a robotic laugh when needed, stock quips, and of course FEIGNED INTEREST. I just want to go home.

At last it’s time to go and for the first time that evening my chest loosens. The smile is real. The jokes and good natured zingers are seen for what they are. It occurs to me how much I missed out on, trapped inside my mind.

Thus is the nature of the beast.

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