Five Before Eight by Melissa Molina

Waiting for her mother to call felt like drowning.
Every Thursday night her mother called at exactly eight. She looked toward the wooden clock hanging desolately on her apartment wall. It was the only piece of decoration she bothered putting up ever since she moved out of her mother’s house two years ago.
Five before eight.
The last few minutes before the inevitable phone call were the worst. The pressure in her chest obstructed her lungs. Every time she tried to take a breath another wave hit her, and she was left gasping for air again. She felt bad that her mother had to deal with her. How ungrateful of her to not look forward to their weekly phone conversations. Her mother is always so kind and selfless. If it wasn’t for her mother she would’ve never graduated with her bachelor’s in accounting. Now she’s able to live in a decent apartment because of her salary. All because of her mother’s selflessness.
Four before eight.
The walls in her chest were closing in, and her lungs were on fire. Her pulse throbbed in her neck. Blood coursed into her carotid artery, hammering so violently she became afraid that it might burst. She waded over to the couch. The quilt her mother handmade her was sitting next to her writing journal. Her mother spent so much time making it and she hadn’t even used it yet. She picked up her journal and opened it. The pages were blank. Her mind was a void. No ideas ever came to her anymore. Words used to flow out of her like a steady river. The moment the pen made contact with paper her mind washed with fluid, vivid scenes like cool water on edges of her reality. But it was foolish of her. She would never get anywhere with such silly nonsense. She knew that. That’s why she became an accountant. Thanks to her mother she’s financially stable and living comfortably.
Three before eight.
There’s no point in trying to find air. Every time she breathes she’s choking on water. Each wave crashes down more violently than the last. She can feel each heartbeat all through her veins. She thrust her journal across the room and turned on her playlist from her phone. She closed her eyes, trying to ignore the searing pain in her lungs. She listened to the music, attempting to let it overtake her. It worked for a minute, but the pendulum of fear was too intense.
One before eight.
Her breath became short and erratic. She was inhaling pure water. She couldn’t do this anymore. She needed her friends. She raced from her couch into the kitchen. She opened one of the cabinets and her entire support group smiled radiantly at her. She abandoned them a week ago, thinking she’d become too reliant on them. What a huge mistake. They were always there for her. They always managed to pull her back to the surface just as she was ready to succumb. She grabbed her best friend, Whiskey. They embraced, and warmth emanated through her body. Her breathing calmed as Whiskey brought her back to shore. The walls inside her loosened and she took in the pure, fresh air. She walked back into the living room with Whiskey by her side and cocooned herself inside the quilt. She was safe, warm, and sheltered. She would never leave her friends again, and she would learn to better appreciate her mother.

Eight o’clock.
The phone rang and she promptly picked it up.
Always on Thursday nights at exactly eight.

Melissa is currently getting her MA in English and Creative Writing. She hopes to get an MFA in the future but is keeping her options open. She lives with her husband and two cats. When she is not writing, she is doing research on personality types and animal behavior. She has a thirst for knowledge and believes constant curiosity is the best asset as a writer.

Image by annca from Pixabay


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