My gut squeezes and I tense

I go on high alert

No one is coming

I could have sworn they were

I hear footsteps under empty air

Movement in an unused space

No one is there

I pretend nothing happened

Fuel is jamming through my arms

Energy surging through my legs

I'm ready to fight

And so I sit, passive

Nothing happens

I smile and say I'm okay

I engage with people

And they suspect nothing

I won't tell anyone

Not when they could say I'm making it up

That I'm doing it for attention

Not again

And that panicky feeling shows itself slowly

A tension in my shoulders

And tapping fingers on my desk

An uneven breath

I'm getting crushed by an invisible hand

I feel too open, too vulnerable

Like I'm squeezed together

And I'm spread out at the same time

And when this response passes

A strange emotion enters

I want to punch something

I want to fight

Not someone

I would never intentionally hurt someone

But I have to fight to get out of this trap

I have to burst out

And when that feeling, too, passes

I'm pissed

I'm serious

I'm brisk

I don't laugh at jokes the way I usually do

I acknowledge others but don't spend time

I'm done with everything around me

And it's only a little voice that reminds me to keep my mask on even a little bit

And then it's done.

I leave

I calm down

I feel happiness enter my system once again

Because when I go back

And I have to go back

I will feel trapped once again

And once again, I don't know who will notice

If someone will notice that I'm not okay

That I need help even if I will not admit it

Or if they will leave me alone and let me be

Or if they don't even see where I am