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Rated: E · Fiction · Contest · #2306528
They're finally safe.
They're not alone in this room.

They know this of course, have known for years. And before you try to guess, no they don't have a roommate. They're not on a video call or live stream or in any active contact with any other person at this current point in time.

But they know they're not alone.

They've been working on it, this paranoia that's followed them like a plague since childhood. They've talked to loved ones, written in journals, gone to therapy, been prescribed at least three different medications. Hell, they've gone as far as to beg this unseen force to just get it over with and kill them simply to prove its existence to those around them.

Obviously, they know better now. That this unseen force, this thing that's brought them so much fear is simply a feeling, a trick. A lie. The symptom of a curable illness. They talk to those who care about them, confide the darker details to their loyal therapist, try their different medications, and live with the fear haunting the back of their mind.

They never quite get rid of it though.

They've stopped hoping they would.

They've given up telling people they haven't.

It's a normal part of life, really. Functioning as if they weren't entirely certain of impending doom. As if the other shoe wasn't about to drop in an otherwise manageable situation. Their life is a series of habits and patterns forged through therapy and personal experience in order to live their "happiest and most fulfilling life." Their happiness is maintained by a near endless cycle forged in fear, cloaked in the illusion of optimistic self-help.

Wake up. Shower. Get dressed. Avoid the mirror. Check for cameras. Inspect the car (inside and out). Drive to work. Always take a different route. Be polite. Avoid the mirrors. Check the office for cameras. Check for threats behind every smile. Keep a close eye on everyone during lunch. Go back to the office. Check for cameras. Work. Inspect the car (inside and out). Drive home. Take a different route. Get home. Check for cameras. Inspect food in pantry. Make lunch. Do dishes. Check for cameras. Shower. Avoid the mirror. Sleep. Repeat.

They've gotten better recently, though. Maybe it's the therapy or the maturity and wisdom of age, they don't really care.

It's nice to not really care. To not always feel the need to check the car. To eat lunch with coworkers. To smile at the mirror.

It's a nice feeling they haven't known in a long time, since before they can remember: It's relief. Beautiful, wonderful relief.

They can't help but to wonder if this is how everyone feels. If this is how they are supposed to feel. Had they been robbed of this their entire life?

They consider praying just to interrogate a silent god for some much needed - and in their opinion, well deserved - answers.

They inform their therapist of these new feelings - of this relief - and they are quickly informed of a new medication. One that can eradicate any existing paranoia. They say it will erase it for good.

That night, they're almost giddy as they take their new medication. Almost instantly, they feel the relief wrap around their mind like a comforting hug. They fall asleep with a smile on their face for the first time in years. The relief almost palpable in the air around them. For once, they feel completely and utterly safe.

they hardly stir as a floorboard creaks in the doorway.

after years of hard work, It has severed their connection.

because, frankly, fear may be fun to watch, but relief tastes sweeter.
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