Agoraphobia by Diane M Dickson


I thought I’d take an umbrella. I peered out of the window and drew back the curtain.  It was dark and cloudy.  I didn’t think – snow – but perhaps rain, sleet, maybe.  So, yes I decided, an umbrella. That was back then, when I was brave, when I thought I could do it today. That was when I operated on a “normal” level, sane.

Of course I needed the pink one, mine, the one with the lovely wooden handle and the frilly edge but it was in the car and the car had already gone.  Damn, when we decided to sell the old car – mine, I hadn’t appreciated how much it meant, how it made me independent even though I had given up my job. It was a joint decision of course, Andy suggested it but he really needed the new computer that it would fund, well I couldn’t refuse could I?

I felt the tingle then.  A panicked sort of fizz, as if I was a bird in one of those old fashioned cages and somebody closed the door, flipped the tiny latch.  It was small then.  I shoved it away.  At that point I believed I could go.  I wanted to prevail.  I imagined Andy, proud, when he came home.  He’d be late, probably late as usual.  Back from his world to this little place and the empty rooms and the quiet of the lonely street, but to a smiling, valiant me.  When I remembered how far away he was I think that was when the doubts began.  So, the depression came next.  Black dog, here it was, snarling at the corners of my mind, it wouldn’t go.  I cried to it, silently through the early tears.  Leave me, get out and let me be me, let me laugh and feel my spirit soar with the sight of the daffodils as it had used to.

I still hadn’t had my shower, I knew that it should be next.  I had to make myself sweet and fragrant.  For what – the damned demons demanded, why should you, what does it matter.  I tried; I did, so very hard to shake it.  I turned on the tap and as I watched the scalding water cascade into the tub my resolve washed away and I crumbled and gave in again to the misery.

Even so I had to dress.  Andy would be angry if he came home and found me in my dressing gown again, dopey and listless on the couch, watching the television, wasting my life.  My skirt was stained, a splash of sauce from the tasteless meal of last night. Rubbing at it with a wet rag made it worse.  Then there was the blouse, as I lifted the thing I caught the stale perfume smell of last week’s effort, a mocking miasma of yet another failure.  An abortive lunch with my sister, I had crept out of the back entrance of the restaurant.  The noise and incessant, brittle brightness had beaten me and then when she rang and rang and rang I unplugged the ‘phone.  She wouldn’t understand, she never did. She told me to pull myself together, chin up and all that.

Well I would pull a cardigan over the blouse and trap the perfumed memory a guilty thought, against my skin.

I made another effort.  I did I tried to be brave, to leave the house.  I glanced about, there was no-one there, no-one that I would need to speak to.  I tipped a toe over the threshold.  The world spun and jolted.  My heart pounded, I remember I gasped and gulped, a landed fish.  A poor pathetic breathless creature, out of depth, out of air.  I stepped back, slammed the door and slid down the wall.

So, here I am, slumped against the wainscoting, the stupid, stupid brolly propped against the door.  The black one.  If it had been the pink one, my pink one I could have done it, I could.  It wasn’t my fault it was the black umbrella, a jailor, mocking me now as I crouch and crumble and submit.  If I had only had my pink one I could have gone out today.


Diane M Dickson

6 thoughts on “Agoraphobia by Diane M Dickson

  1. It’s a really creepy and tough life you have written for your poor MC. The colour of the umbrella being the reason this time, is clever writing for procrastination. Well done, my friend!


  2. You painted a vivid picture of this lost soul, Diane. Tight and unforgettable. Perfect reading for this stormy weather we’re having in northern California. Best, June

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Diane, I like how the MC is determined to overcome her fear, she picks a day when the weather is bad, well no one will be about to see her. So that’s a good choice. But then the excuses come and at the final hurdle she fails to leave the house. But it isn’t her fault and she isn’t to blame. I felt the story skilfully captured the dilemma and showed both the strength and the weakness of character and as a reader I was edging her on. Well maybe next time. It was an interesting and fun read. James.


  4. Pingback: Literally Stories – Week 4 | literally stories

  5. Hi Diane, a beautiful description of barriers, fears and excuses. These can all be at whatever level we choose them to be. I think that we can all see some of ourselves in your clever short.
    All the very best.


  6. Excellent depiction of a very real situation. Using something as insignificant as the colour of an umbrella to highlight how paralysed people can become over something you or I wouldn’t even consider important was very cleverly done. Enjoyed this very much. Cheers, Nik


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