"What's happened here, ma'am?" the sudden, rumbling dark voice is a shock to my senses. Deep, unforgettable and directed to me. The icy air is hugging my tense body as I take sharp, shallow breathes. The man towers over me like a monumental mountain, unmovable - unstoppable.
"Alexandra, are you alright?" there it is again, a voice that continues to wage a war on my unstable mind. Simple enough question, just answer.
I try but my words fail me. Instead my surroundings have moulded into a dark mess. All I see is her, cowering in an obscure corner. A dying light shows her face.
"Alexandra, please! Run, get help! Ally do something!" she pleads through violent sobs, the memories scream at me. But, I can't remember it all, just the terroristic fragments my brain allows to slip through the tiny cracks every now and again. I feverishly run my fingers through my hair trying to push those memories out but my desperate efforts fail.
Yet, that doesn't stop me from pushing harder, and breathing heavier.
A steady yet worried voice, tugs me back to my current reality, I try to take in the surroundings. Focus, focus on anything but her right now.
I listen to that little reassuring inner voice and open my eyes once more. This time, I look past the people and instead I focus on the world around them.
The small clothing store lacks order but that makes me all the happier because it means more pointless things to lose myself in. I find solace in studying the range of colours and patterns that scream throughout the bohemian clothing. I swim in the vivid oranges, raging reds and pops of purple. I don't think of the air going in, instead I try pick out the smells they carry. An incense candle flickers in the corner and the aroma hits me like a wave, I don't know how I hadn't noticed it before. Vanilla.
I feel that glazed peace wash over me and it's like the darkness in my mind is temporarily lifted. No more inner wars. For now.
I look down at my fists. I hadn't realised but I had been clenching so hard that I could feel what's left of my nail beds digging into my palms.
"I think she is having a panic attack, Detective", the woman who had frantically called the police tries to fill in for my lack of presence. But it's not the police that came. No not the police, he came, and now there he was attentively staring down at me. Just get up and run. They can't physically stop me, I did nothing wrong. I start to stand but I rise to meet his eyes, and I find myself faltering. Not now, can't run now. Just breathe. In and out, in and out….
"How can we help? What do you want us to do?" an unusual tone of concern fills his voice. I take a reassuring deep breathe and attempt to compose myself.
"No, I'm fine", the words sound stronger than I feel but they don't fool anyone. All three pair of eyes are trained on me - two dark, cold and controlled, and one a glorious green filling with worry.
"Alexandra I think it would be best if we went home now", What? But my first outing in three months was going so well.
"Yes, I think that would be best", I respond in monotone while blankly staring at an unravelling seam on his otherwise flawless black suit. I slowly stray towards the exit as the detectives, or Suits as I like to call them, start to converse in hushed tones I can't fathom into words.
"Alexandra, there's a visitor at the door", a distant and unrecognisable voice calls into my room.
I stumble down the obnoxiously grand staircase. I hesitantly open the door to find a lean, tall boy leaning on the door frame, too close to my face. I feel his warm, minty breathe on my nose and I stumble slightly backwards. Too close.
"I'm Slater, I just moved in across the road, your Mum said she needed help moving some furniture earlier, and that I should come back later", he abruptly announces.
He looks like an excerpt from a clothing catalogue from the 90's. He models dark jeans, and a simple white loose singlet, my eyes fall onto his tan defined arms and my stomach does a kind of unexpected flip. His dark brown hair falls to his strong jaw line, and is met by a scruffy, mediocre attempt of beard. He takes no notice of my curious stare as he ties his hair back into a tiny ponytail, with a slight stern look about his face.
He then starts clicking in my face "Are you all there? Can you just tell your boss I'm here", I'm cut off from my daydream, and snap back to the world of the living.
"She's not home", I say so quietly I struggle to hear the words myself. I stare at the ground, actually hoping for one of the suits to interrupt. I start to consider if its physically possible to crawl inside myself and just Poof, no more Alex.
"Do you know when she'll be back?" the annoyance is seeping through his words now, and he tediously taps his finger against the door frame getting ever-so quicker by the second.
"No", I firmly reply. I start to slam the door closed, believing this rather depressing social interaction is over when he walks in.
"Well, is it okay if I stay here until she gets back then?", I'm astounded by his shear lack of perception. I thought I was sending clear signals I didn't want to talk to him anymore, but apparently he thinks I was inviting him in.
"Whatever, just leave me alone", I then begin to ascend the opulent marble staircase while the suits close in on Slater enveloping him in a cloud of grey and black cladded bodies.