This novel is due out March 4 from Loose Id, and I just finished edits on it. I’m sharing this scene because it goes along with Monday’s post about mental illness. TRIGGER WARNING.
Mitch’s hands shook as he opened the door. His heart raced. He didn’t want to go. Inside the apartment, he was safe. Outside, anything might happen.
He took a deep breath. He had no reason to be afraid of walking to the grocery store. He’d done it plenty of times, though usually Solara went with him. The neighborhood was safe, especially in daylight, and the route was straight down the street and straight back up.
But still dealing with his withdrawal, he was on edge enough to be scared of everything, whether logical or not. He’d learned early and often that he couldn’t reason himself out of anxiety and panic attacks. The only thing he could do was try to push himself beyond them.
He reached the store without incident and picked up the items on Solara’s list. Checking out was no problem either. As usual, Solara, as usual, had given him more than enough money.
He left the store and headed home, carrying three bags of groceries. They weren’t too heavy, but he had to use both hands, which bothered him. He preferred having a hand free in case he needed to defend himself. He probably wouldn’t need to defend himself here, but he didn’t want to take any chances.
And then it happened.
Ordinarily the old brown station wagon coming toward him would barely have registered on his mental radar. Ordinarily it would have driven past him, and he might have thought, Huh, that looks familiar. Or he might not have thought anything about it at all.
Ordinarily he wouldn’t have been dealing with a migraine and upset stomach and the near-desperate craving for another pill, and he wouldn’t have been only a couple of hours past thinking about his so-called parents.
The car was identical to the one his father had bought new when Mitch was ten. The one he’d forced Mitch to take a ride in the night he’d brought it home. The trip “around the block” had lasted two hours, and the car hadn’t moved during most of it, unless Mitch counted the rocking caused by his father’s movements. That had been the only time his father had assaulted him in the car, though he’d hinted a few times afterward that the back of the wagon was the perfect location. After that night, Mitch had refused to ride in the thing without his mother along. Of all the bad times with his father, this was one of the worst. He Mitch couldn’t have forgotten if he’d tried.
The car came closer, and the driver resembled his father.
Mitch dropped to his knees, hyperventilating. His heart raced, and his stomach churned. The bags fell from his hands. He barely noticed their contents spilling onto the sidewalk. He closed his eyes, willing the car to go away. To keep on moving until he was safe.
He wanted to scream, but kept it in. Even in the thick of a full-blown panic attack he knew better than to make a sound. Someone would hear him, and would think he’d gone crazy. No one other than Solara could ever find out what went on in his head.