A gentle sweat began to blanket my back and the room started to feel small. The palm trees outside shifted from festive to threatening. Coconuts kill one hundred and fifty people a year. I had read that somewhere unreliable but now it seemed true.
A chair scraped the ground and my throat begged for water. My glass was empty so I pilfered an ice cube and rested it on the inside of my wrist. Deep breaths.
“Is it loud in here?” Whether I was speaking or thinking this was unclear.
I took note of the line forming for the women’s restroom and attempted to count backwards from ten. I got to eight then moved the cube to the back of my neck. Everything will be okay.
My coffee was getting cold but I didn’t dare take a sip. The thought of putting anything inside my body besides air seemed potentially detrimental.
I took a huge inhalation and smiled at no one in particular. Please G-d let me get through this.
I wanted to run but my body felt glued to my chair. I quietly confirmed it was indeed excessively loud. I scanned the room trying to identify the location of the noise and it was then that I locked eyes with a man staring down at me. Everything became blurry. He was asking me a question, repeating it persistently. Was I dying? Is this how it all ends?
“Chase!” I felt someone grab my arm and my vision snapped back. The chatter around me returned to an appropriate volume. I swiveled back to the man staring down at me.
“I said we’re all out of sourdough.”
I stared at him. Then at my friends staring at me.
“Would you like a different type of toast with your eggs?”
“No.” I calmly replied as a gathered my belongings and stood up. “No, I would not.”
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