Big Sky

Anger will protect you from fear.
Two masked gunmen attack an agoraphobic 18 year old girl and her mother as they travel by van to a treatment facility.


1. Please, God.


   Agoraphobia: Extreme or irrational fear of open and public areas.


"Walk downstairs. 14 steps total... 14. Step through the front door. 68 degrees outside... 68. Reaching 97, back to 65 tonight when you're back inside. Three..." I was just writing something on a light blue sheet of paper.

"Oh, shit! Goddamn it! Oh good you're awake." I heard my mom shout just as she entered my room. "That makes one of us" I said. "Well I'm awake now, that's for sure. I stepped on my keys. Those little buggers can hurt" she went to the back of my room to get my clothes. "What were your keys doing on the floor of the upstairs hallway anyway? Oh, wait. Let me guess. Um, you dropped them last night mid-swing or mid-something else" I said, kind of frustrated.

"Whats that supposed to mean?" My mom started to comb her hair with her hands, just like she does when shes worried or lying. "Stu's gone, happy? and at least I have keys, use for keys. Just say the word and these are yours", but I stayed quiet.

"You packed? I washed your lucky shirt. Oh, and I, uh, I called them again. Double-checked about the ride, the vans windows will be tinted. The driver will never go above 55 on or off the highway, it'll barely even feel like you're moving. And you'll have the back row all to yourself. No one will even be able to look at you. Its just how you like it, right?"

I sighed, and just started to think, I'm seventeen, have a severe illness called agoraphobia, have no father, no siblings and a mother who sometimes gets pretty annoyed by me. Life just can't get any better can it?

I quickly took a shower, let my shoulder length ginger hair fall by my sides and then took out my three pills. "Half red, half blue. Half white and half red..." I laid them in order from smallest to biggest with an equal amount of space in between each, just like I always do. Then had each, one by one, from smallest to biggest with a glass of water.

"Was that dad on the phone" I asked my mom just as I finished taking my pills. "Mm-hmm". "While I was in the shower?". "Mm-hmm". "And what did he say?" "Wanted to wish you a Bon voyage". "And what did you say?" "I told him you were in the shower. Oh, and that he and his new wife are festering boils that should be lanced from the ass of humanity. Good right?" I didn't find it funny though.

"You only took three meds right?" She asked. "Of course, you want to check them? And if we're missing some its only 'cause stu boosted a few on his way out." which was true. "His name is Steve, Hayze, not stu." she exclaimed. "Sorry" I murmured.

I have been in my room for the past six months now and haven't even gone downstairs or anywhere else in the house. Every time I am exposed to an open or public place my agoraphobia starts acting up and I begin to experience an attack. Honestly, I don't even know what to do anymore. I've missed so much in life because of it, like certain things at school, and now I'm not able to socialize with anyone so I don't even have any friends. Everything is just much harder and sadder.




"So you were saying that she missed her graduation." asked the driver. He was in our kitchen talking to mom. "Graduation, senior prom, junior prom before that... all of it." She said. "Anything to avoid another attack, huh? So the last one was when?" He asked curiously. "Are you the driver or the doctor?" mom asked him sarcastically. "Look, I'm just the guy who's trying to get your daughter from here to there, that's it." He said.

"Uh, the last one was about six months ago." she replied. "Six months?" he was clearly astonished. "Yeah, tried going for a walk. About a minute in, she started to choke. And, um, along came shrink number four and prescription number seven. So now she's got her pills, and her birds, and her computer, and me bringing meals to her room".

"So she won't eat down here?" he asked. "She won't come down here. She hasn't in months." my mom said.

"Well that kind of limits the social life, huh?" "Hazel doesn't have a social life" she replied. "I was talking about you" the driver said to my mom.




I looked at my hands and arms. "No cuts, no scrapes, no nicks, no scratches. No cuts, no scrapes, no nicks, no abrasions. No abrasions. I can do it. I can do it".

I folded my light blue paper into an origami figure and slipped it into the back pocket of my pants.

"I can do it... Alone."

I got up and went over to the stairs. I slowly grabbed the rod and started to go down the first few steps. "Mm, I'm gonna need all distractions. I know. I know. Tunnel vision. I can do it. Seven more steps. Seven more steps. Seven more steps." I whispered to my self.

Eventually I managed to reach the van that was parked outside. The driver opened the back cabinet area. "Okay. So there's your air, all right? And there's your light..." he handed my a flashlight. "...and that is your eject button, if at any point you want to come out and join the party. That invitations always open. Okay Hazel? You're gonna be fine in there, Hazel. Snug as a bug. Nothing can touch you." He explained to me.

"I'll come with you, Hayze. How's that? I'll just come with you for the ride." my mom suggested.

I was starting to feel weird, as if I could see, hear and feel water all around. It made me dizzy.




The van started to move. I was in the back compartment. "Envision destination. Eliminate all distractions". 

Mom started to dig around for something in her bag. "You just can't sit still, can you?" asked the driver. "Look, Dee, seriously, It's okay. She's gonna love this place. You made the right choice". "It wasn't a choice" mom replied. Hazel just turned 18, so her dear dad stopped paying child support, and he and his new wife decided to hit us with the old 'threats and ultimatums' move... selling our house, cutting off the checks until Hazel checks in, which will only set her back, believe me".

"That's optimistic" he said. "That's realistic" mom replied.

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