Staring at Wallpaper

My focus is on  the ornate wallpaper covered in gold paisley in front of me. I study it  with my full attention drawn to the sheen that makes it shimmer in the light that my livingroom window casts on it.  I wonder  if it would be classed as a burgundy or more of a wine?

I’m stalling, I need to do a load of laundry because I’ve been wearing the same clothes for two days now but I have a problem. My apartment’s laundry room is located downstairs and across  the complex. I will have to leave my safe apartment and go out there with other people, in the daylight with other people. My basket is right here all ready and full of clothes, I have a container full of quarters here in my cardigan pocket. I have been clutching my apartment keys in my left hand for the past twenty minutes.

All I have to do  is get up, pick up the damn basket, open the door, close it, lock it and head down stairs. I’ll walk as far away from the buildings as I can to avoid the shady looking guys that like to wait outside their apartments. I will pass the pool and that’ll give me something to look at until I am at the  laundry room. It will be fine. It’s just doing laundry and I need to do laundry sometime. I cannot spend all day sitting here staring at wallpaper and trying to get up the courage to go out there. That is what happened to yesterday and  I don’t get any braver as the minutes tick by. I’m just going to do it.

I stand up and walk over to my basket in the hallway in front of the door. I pick it up and  steady it against my hip and get my keys ready. I open my door, it’s cloudy but the sun seems so bright.

I step outside and my heart is racing, my keys are ready but I fumble with them, keys have always been my enemy. There, the door is locked  and I walk up to the head of the stairs and look down. They waver under me. I tighten my grip on  my laundry basket and I hold my keys so that  one is sticking straight out the way they taught me in defense class. If someone attacks me I can use my key to poke out their eye. The key shakes in my hand.

“Are you okay?”

The man’s voice shocks me, he must be the new tenant I heard moving into the apartment next to mine. I try to look up at him but all I can is his silhouette. I stand there shaking and silent like an idiot.

“Miss? Are you okay?”

I clutch the stair rail harder because I feel like I’ll swoon at any minute. I think that I nod yes but all I really care about is getting back inside. My head is full of clanging warning bells and red flashes. I have to get back inside. I push past the silhouette with my key still sticking out. I manage to open my door before I drop it and then pick up quickly almost emptying my laundry basket in the process. I kick the two t-shirts that have fallen out into my apartment and shut the door hard behind me. I slump to the floor and throw the basket down in the hallway again. My knees rise up to my chest and I hug them tightly there.

I stare at the  wallpaper again before I lay my head down on my shoulder. I see it’s pattern clearly for a minute before hot tears blur it out.


Written for the Puzzle Piece photo prompt for Story Dam. This is my first time participating in this comunity so hopefully I followed the prompt correctly! My limit was 600 words but this came out to 601 or 602.

Story Dam

13 comments on “Staring at Wallpaper

  1. Brandon says:

    Nice job, you!

    I’ve never had a panic attack, but I felt it here! Nicely done.

    The only thing I saw in this was this line: “I clutch my laundry basket with one hand and I hold my keys…” Technically, you were already clutching the basket with one hand coming out the door. Maybe you tightened your grip? Something else? Or you can adjust the statement to say “Now I am clutching…and holding…”

    Other than that, wow! Great passage. Thank you for joining us this week! We also have a Meet and Greet link-up today, so be sure to post something there as well, and get to know a few other community members. 🙂

    (And yes, you did the prompt right, lol! Check out our Facebook page for a note I wrote on prompted writing.

  2. strangelyd says:

    Thanks! I didn’t know if I was going to do this weekk’s prompt but I thought of this while I was supposed to be working on something else. Thank you for catching that, I’ll have to edit it- can’t wait to read this week’s posts! 🙂

  3. This was incredible. I felt like I was there with her trying to cheer her on and give her the courage to leave her apartment. My heart broke for her when she turned around and ran back inside. I’m so glad you ended up doing the prompt. A great read!

  4. julieemoore says:

    Sounds like a really scary time. Very vivid description. Thanks for a look into a real panic attack. Welcome to Story Dam.

  5. Donna says:

    Excellent job portraying your character’s emotional state. I felt like I was right there with her. The only suggestion I have is in paragraph two where you say “with other people” twice, I think if you add a comma or …. or some other form of punctuation to slow down the reader’s eye, the repetition will have a stronger impact. I can’t wait to read more of your writing!

  6. Renee says:

    I can feel her heart racing. The inner pain comes across well in all the tiny details that are magnified by the fear.
    It makes me hurt for her.

  7. Brandi says:

    Thanks for linking up with us over at StoryDam 🙂 Brandon and I always enjoy seeing new faces over there!

    At first I kept saying to myself, I am so this girl, I can’t tell you how many times I have put off laundry and wasted the day away.

    Then I read more and realized I have been her so many times… I have had panic attacks over several things, and have talked myself out of going places or doing things for reasons I can’t even explain. Thank You so much, I felt the fear and emotions right along with her even though I haven’t had an attack in a while.

    I hope you join us again soon 🙂

    • justlyd says:

      Thank you! I have had panic attacks in the past too, not in a while, but I do know what that is like. There was probably more description that I could’ve added but I think that word limits help me try to say more with less, so I appreciate that. 🙂

  8. DM says:

    This is real. The panic attack you show really really well in this story. Like Lisa, I found myself cheering her on, congraluting when she made the steps and walked outside, and was disappointed when she went back in the house. I love the way you kept the suspence high and kept me guessing right to the very end.

    My only concrit for you is that you waffle a little bit between casual and formal a few times. Example: “That is what happened to yesterday and I don’t get any braver as the minutes tick by.” That is sounds formal, then you have “don’t” which is more casual. This is an easy fix by either adding the ‘s to “That” and dropping the “is” or not using the contractions at all. Most people choose to write using contractions, so when they don’t use them it makes more emphasis, like the difference between can’t and cannot. When you say you cannot do something vs. can’t do it, it tends to come across much more serious to me. If you were running a race and said you can’t finish it, I’d tell you to suck it up and cross the finish line. If you told me you cannot do it, I’d ask you why. Not sure I’m explaining this well, but I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.

    Again, I really like the direction you took the prompt in (and you really did ace it!!) and I’m really happy to see you here!! I can’t wait to read more.

    • justlyd says:

      I do get what you are saying! Thank you for pointing that out, and I liked how you explained why the more formal tense makes more emphasis. Thank you for the encouragement to link.

  9. I really enjoyed your piece. I could clearly see what she was trying to deal with. I could imagine her whole world crashing in on her at the end. Nicely done!

    The only thing I would say is that is seemed to me that at times (first paragraph) she was narrating and at other times, she was sort of talking herself through it (“that’ll give me something to look at”).

  10. Wow, what a fantastic description, I felt like I was right there with you, my heart beating out of my chest!

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