Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Inside Out By Pete Harrison

My body stands in a room surrounded by friends and relatives. Here to celebrate my thirtieth birthday. All having fun, singing happy birthday, pulling party poppers and batting balloons around with the children. My favourite songs are relentlessly played by the DJ and my favourite foods wait patiently for the gannets on a buffet table. The drink I hold in my hand has scarcely touched my lips but still I feel dizzy. The world happens around me, I am totally detached from it. My face tries to say I am happy and enjoying the celebrations, all for my benefit, apparently. My mind says otherwise as I regress to my fourth birthday party when I cried the whole way through whilst my pseudo friends enjoyed themselves.

I silently scream at my parents trying desperately to get me involved.

‘Come on, get lively,’ they say, simultaneously dragging me to the dance floor.

My limbs refuse to cooperate and I stand like a wizened sapling, waving erratically in a breeze. My cousin Linda, the most beautiful girl I have ever seen joins us to add to my embarrassment. I have been in love with her since we were seven but she never paid much attention to me. Her best friend Margot, the focus of her life then, and now, joins in the fun they’re having.

I open a door in my head marked sanctuary and go inside slamming it shut. I feel like locking myself inside forever. Withdrawn, I feel temporarily safe in my own world until the gremlins, that plague my life, slowly emerge.

‘Run away,’ they scream. ‘You don’t want to be here, you don’t need to be here, run, hide, run.

Suddenly the door flies open and I’m brought back to the dance floor with a crash. My ever confident, annoying brother Steve, shoulder barged me.

‘Happy birthday bro.’ He chuckles, as his muscular tattooed arm reaches down to pull me up, crushing my fingers in the process.

‘I thought you were in the Caribbean!?’ I said trying to put on a brave, appreciative face whilst dying inside.

‘Couldn’t miss my big bro’s thirtieth, could I? Got special leave, perks of being an officer now,’ he bragged.

Those in earshot flocked to hear his wonderful news, allowing me to escape to the toilet, another safe haven. I can stay here for at least twenty minutes before anyone comes looking.

No such luck, my seven year old nephew followed me in without me knowing and before five minutes has passed my dad is banging on the cubicle door.

‘Be out in a minute, dad.’ I cry. Then I really do cry. Uncontrollable floods, angry with myself I search inside my mind for the door marked exit. I remember seeing it once, a long time ago. Never had the nerve to open it and leave then and I ‘m sure as hell not going to open today.

The only door I’m opening, is the toilet door. Watch out world I’m coming back.

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