2014 -- 7.1 (Fall) Fiction


By: Danielle Dean

I’m dozens of feet up in the air, suspended inside of a clear plastic box that is dangling by one thick, metal wire. With each shift and nudge of the wind, the box moves; swaying back and forth like a pendulum with no purpose. The holes, which have been cut craftily at the top of the box for breathing purposes, allows me to hear the excited, anxious chatter of the crowd that has collected so far below. I hear one man exclaim that I’ll never make it…and I fear he may be right.

Glancing down at the scene before me, fear ripples through my body; my anxiety at being trapped so high in the sky pools in my stomach, and then cools and hardens into a dull, throbbing ache. Petrified of the wire holding me snapping in half, I lean forward and press my sticky palms up against the cool plastic of my prison; I can feel my pulse throbbing and thudding erratically within the palms of my hands. My fear is a tangible thing—real and raw—and it’s threatening to swallow me whole; to devour me until not a single shred of my sanity remains.

In a sense, it almost feels like I’m drowning; the air is forced out of my lungs and lodged in my throat, igniting a fire in my chest that spreads to the tips of my fingers and curls my toes. My body aches for the sort of relief that it cannot possibly obtain; relief from this all-consuming, soul-gnawing fear. It defines me; it shapes and molds me into a disfigured being that threatens to break apart at the seams. And as I squeeze my eyes shut in a vain attempt to block out my senses, I almost feel myself stretching thin as my anxiety overwhelms me. If I could shut down the height, shut down the drowning, shut down the fear…if I could just shut down it all, I’d be okay. I murmur these inane words of comfort to myself over and over again, hoping and praying that something—anything—could save me from the feeling of those clear plastic walls closing in around me; smothering and taunting me with the promise of falling.

But I don’t fall; I never fall. Instead, I dangle precariously, as though I’m teetering on the edge of a cliff or close to toppling off the side of a mountain. Breathe in, breathe out; it’s all I can do, trapped between falling and drowning, and the simple task of inhaling and exhaling becomes my anchor. Steady, reassuring, concrete.

I open my eyes…and find myself wrapped up in my own embrace, hugging a blanket to my chest and threatening to shove my fist down my throat.

“It’s okay,” a woman’s voice tells me, and as I blink rapidly and glance up at the familiar face of my mother, my body and mind comes careening back to reality.

“It’s okay,” she repeats. “Your panic attack is over.”


Bio: My name’s Danielle Dean–I’m an English major with a passion for creative writing of all genres and platforms; I’ve always viewed writing as one of the greatest ways for people to express themselves, and I hope to continue on with it for the rest of my life.​