Sunday, 8 February 2015

MARCUS IS WALKING, by Joan Ackerman.

  Caitlin, a woman prone to panic attacks while driving.

CAITLYN.  Did you know that one out of eight women have panic attacks?  One out of eight.  That’s a lot of panic.  I know it’s all in my head but I can’t control it, it’s like the road freezes in a freeze frame, things stop moving as a video, and my mind jams into this . . . ozone . . . warp and it’s exhausting like I’m towing a car with my brain and I can’t breathe and I get disconnected from my body and I think I’ll pass out.  I never have passed out but I think I will.  If there’s a breakdown lane it doesn’t happen; if there isn’t one, it’s . . . god, it’s indescribably awful.  The weird thing, I’m more afraid of the fear than I am of actually getting into a car crash.

Maybe something in my brain knows something I don’t know; maybe it’s protecting me and being very sensible, very rational.  I mean, up until this century human beings didn’t go faster than, what, five miles an hour, unless they were flung up on an ox or a horse or something, pitched out a castle window.  For centuries, for millennia, humans have traveled very, very slowly.  When you think about it, going sixty miles an hour, going forty miles an hour is a profoundly unnatural thing to do.  Insanely dangerous.  Maybe some part of my brain realizes this and says what the heck are you doing out in the little tinny metal box that can crumple like gum foil in an instant, flying, hurtling through space alongside of hundreds of other people in little tinny metal boxes, many of whom are complete idiots,morons entrusted with these death machines.  It’s insane.  Really, people have panic attacks in very logical places – elevators, airplanes, cars – dangerous places.  Maybe it’s not panic, maybe it’s preservation of the species, common sense, it’s “Get your body out of here.  It’s a very, very stupid place for you to be.”

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