This bit was written in response to a Chuck Wendig blog post asking people to write about something that scares them. This snippet is fiction, but feel free to pull tendrils of my broken psyche out of it.
I forgot my water bottle.
Not a big deal, really. I can pick up a bottle of water in the lobby of my building. I won’t even have to pay for it. Courtesy water for guests and employees. That’s me. An employee. Definitely not a guest.
I still need to drink.
I’m pretty sure I can make it through this fifteen minute bus ride. Fifteen minutes to a bottle of water.
My throat is parched. There is a tickle of a cough lurking there, threatening to burst free. A single swallow of water would wash it away, send it swirling down to my stomach.
I swallow. The trickle of saliva in my mouth is nowhere near enough. I cough. A single sharp bark.
Four heads turn to look at me. The eyes are nervous.
I meet the eyes of the man next to me. His eyes are a soft brown, they should be comforting. The skin around them is pulled tight, pinched at the corners into a frown. There is no welcome there.
I let my gaze drift down to his hands, to the stoppered blue glass held in them. His fingers tighten, curl around the cool surface.
I swallow again. I am not the only one to hear the click in my throat.
The man stands and moves away, taking his water to the safety of a seat further away from the thirsty girl.
A quick glance around shows all the bottles are guarded, held close. They are not for me.
A second quick glance to my arm shows that I have twelve minutes to go.
I close my eyes and try not to think about water. All I see on the inside of my lids is a vast ocean. Clouds overhead drip down, adding to the already swollen sea.
I want to wade in and dip my head, drop my jaw and take it all in.
Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Imaginary water, anyway.
I open my eyes and check my watch again. Nine minutes.
I lift my hand, intending to wipe sweat from my brow. My hand shakes, trembles and tumbles against my skin. There is not a single bead of moisture there. The skin on my forehead feels thin, fragile, stretched tight.
My hand falls, the tremors accelerating as it sinks to my lap.
I feel that same tremor inside. My cells quivering, quaking as they shrink ever so slightly.
I slump in my seat, my head tipping back against the unforgiving glass of the window. The heat from outside seeps through, scorching my skin. It steals more of my moisture. I have none to spare. I am dry.
My eyes drift closed. The lids scratch and scrape, sand blowing across the Sahara.
I was wrong. Fifteen minutes is too long.