On the balcony of my favorite restaurant Nes,
David and Rich wanted to take
me out for my birthday. It is so perfect. The candlelights, glasses and
silverware sparkle on every table. Everyone sparkles with jewelry and shimmering
evening clothes. It has been a long time, since we have been here. The hour it
took to straighten my long black hair was worth it. Nick, my
boyfriend, already gave me a matching silver barrette and jewelry set this
Tonight is for hanging out with the guys until later. They all love the new
outfit. Slick, black, fitted to accent my good features. They look great
tonight. Variations of mock turtle necks and black trench coats. Nes wore white ruffles
and a black headband to go with his long blonde hair. Rich has extra spikes to
look “Industrial.” David looks as usual, keeps pointing out the new black
leather belt. Keeps saying, “Herica, it’s hand made.”
A great night, Nick wanted to meet later at a club Hopefully it is good. They
want to treat me to something special. Ecstatic I told them, “Wow, you
were paying attention. I wanted to go here since last year.” You have to know
where it is. No neon lights or flashing banners, a simple name painted by the
doorway off the alley.
David replies, “We wanted to go too.”
It was not much to look at. It was like a cheesy Hollywood set. I didn’t know
bars like these actually existed in real life. Wood floors everywhere with wood
panel walls and mirrors above the brass handle going all around the Place. The
bar tender stood there grinning. With only a few tables and hardly a dance
floor we had the place to ourselves. David offered first to buy the birthday
girl a Martini.
Getting to the table Nes and Rich were in a heated discussion about when pong
was first invented. Rich says it was invented when the official computer game
was made. Nes argues it goes back to the origins of ping-pong.
It is nice, though still empty. Nick should know we are here. Why would he make
plans to ditch us? Maybe we got here early.
A little while later people started showing up. A half-hour later the Place was
packed. Then Nick showed up. “Everyone there is Nick. I’m going to go tell him
we are here.”
He looked surreal with mist and light behind him. Wearing his leather vest and
pants his long, dark, wavy hair went down past the belt I got him for his
birthday. The new mustache and scuff on his chin made him look like Dracula.
Then a girl that looked like me came in with a tight red mini-skirt and
halter-top. He was laughing, until he saw me.
Running back to the table, the guys were ignoring me. “Why don’t you look at me?
Did you know about Nick?” Ducking around the table trying to make eye contact,
Rich put his hands up to hide his face. The others followed suit. Then I felt a
tap on my shoulder.
“Hi Herica, this is Brittany. We met outside while waiting for you. She already
knows most of the people who hang out here.” Nick smiled in his usual innocent
way. “I thought it would be nice. We can all get to know each other.”
If that is true he should not go off with her, like he is now. “It bugs me how
much time he is spending with Brittany. Is she from Britain? I bet that’s not
even her real name.
“Calm down. You can stay over at my house. That’ll show him.” David offered.
Having problems with David in the past, “It is better Nick and I spend time as a
couple. Probably wants to meet new people. He is like that.”
“What do you think of the new microprocessor on the market? Better, faster, does
tricks and begs.” Rich thinks that is really funny. I can tell.
“What do you think about beating yourself to death with your own leg?” Nes asks.
“There is that hot girl in the sunflower dress. I’m going to go see if see
wants a drink.” We saved the table.
Mindy, Fresca and Ann already said, “Hi”. Now they are over on the dance floor.
Getting up to join them told David and Rich. Good thing, they will save the
Getting high with all the smoke, sweat and body heat on the dance floor the
music throbs. Then I saw Nick, towards the back, rubbing on her. Walking back
to the table, Nes was sitting there. Wondering how it went with the sunflower
dress girl went, before speaking, “She’s a snob.” Looking up he continues, “She
wouldn’t even take the drink. Now she is dancing
with some guy.”
“You have a girlfriend already. Why do you care?” Not to mention she is
“It is just that she could talk for while. She’s a snob.” He is so sexy when he
“Where is your girlfriend anyway?” Wonder if he knows.
“She’s pregnant. You know that.” I do know that.
“Do you want the rum and coke she turned down?” The
drink is good.
Last call for the evening. A few people left. Locating everyone, the
intermission music starts playing lightly in the background. “Every body,
get-out.” Nice flowing get-out motion from the bartender.
The air outside wakes me up. “Wow, you guys, that was so much fun. I’m
twenty-one. When they ask for ID, I can show it to them.” Spinning around
everyone is in good spirits.
Then I hear, “What are you a pin wheel?” from Brittany.
“You’re a hussy! Get away from my boyfriend.” Yelling at her I notice an object
in her hands. “Where did you get that cattle prod?”
“I got it from the bar tender. We all know you’re psycho. That’s what we all
heard. Happy Birthday, psycho. Standing in the water I could stop you in your
tracks from over here.” She must be playing mind games.
“Who says that?” This is frustrating. People from the club are still hanging
around. “Nick, get over here.”
Cannot believe he said, “I don’t want to.”
“We’ve been going out for a year. On my birthday you dump me in front of
everyone.” Why does he have to do this now?
“Why don’t you tell your friends about it?” He looks like a clown with her red
“David, don’t touch me. You were in on this the whole time. You could have at
least told me and saved me some embarrassment. You are not my friend. I don’t
who you are!” He is still touching my shoulder.
Everyone is looking at me like I lost my mind. I should go. The car is out front
of the restaurant still. Glad we met there. David is still following me.
“It is not a big deal. They were just playing a joke on you. Seriously, I didn’t
know they were planning to do that.” A piece of his wavy black hair stuck in his
“You were probably happy about it so you could get me in to bed now. This is the
worst night of my life. Thanks a lot.” He should know, “Stop following me.”
Luckily the car was only about four blocks down. Hopping in, a tear fell on the
steering wheel. To upset to know I’m crying. It feels cold and lonely out
here, nothing to do or say about any of it. At least the radio is playing one of
my favorite songs.
The house is still there. Melissa must be gone or asleep. None of the lights are
on. Must drag feet over threshold. No lights please.
The morning feels better. Do not want to get out of bed. Who needs him? Got to
get up. I will roll off the edge and get ready. The ceiling is looking all
Is that a cobweb? Must drag to the shower.
The water is warm and nice. Lathering up is always pleasant. Toweling off is
great. Buff the gunk off. Melissa must have worked all night. Good thing she
didn’t come home. Probably would think I was a real big freak. Maybe she knew
and didn’t want to be a part of it. There is one person to count on.
Breakfast is nice, cheese and apple slices. It is a skill taking an hour to eat,
now for a cereal chaser. Great the phone is ringing, “Hello.”
“Hi, why did you leave last night?” He needs to ask.
“You embarrassed me in front of everyone. Happy Birthday!” Even if we didn’t
break up you were making out in front of me, almost.
“Come over.” When I need another hole in my head.
“We are not going out anymore. Isn’t that what you wanted.” He is so
“They were just being silly. They don’t even know you.” Sure they don’t. Then
again, I’m not a psycho.
“Well you must have talked to them, because you didn’t even come over to me when
I asked you.” He probably said I was psycho.
“You didn’t ask. You yelled.” I was mad.
“You hung off her all night.” He can’t get around that one.
“She was being friendly.” Sure, we’re all friendly. He means easy.
“You slept with her and now she’s gone. We can get back together right.” It is
not going to happen this time.
“We were broken up.” We broke up because you were making out with her.
“Don’t ever call me again. You can keep whatever I left at your house.” My shift
starts in a half-hour. Work is about a mile from home.” Slamming the phone down
on him feels so good.
Working in the coffee shop, no matter what is happening I can escape to work or
school. Everything stays about the same. There is a test coming up. On
these slow days, wish could study. Waste of a perfectly good coffee shop.
Cleaning up is fine. Not like there is anything else to do. Got three people in
the whole place at four in the afternoon. What I’ll do? Guess study.
Driving home it is like the whole night never happened. My roommate is here,
talking to someone one the phone. Say, “Hi.” Wave, and back to the bedroom.
Here is a good CD. Time to relax and dance. There is the doorbell. There is
Melissa knocking on my door.
“Someone is here to see you.” She says.
Walking out to the living room, Nick is standing there. “Nick, this is really
too soon. You might want to talk about it, but I don’t.”
“Do you have my stuff?” I can make this fast.
Toothbrush, couple of CDs and an old t-shirt, “Here you go. Don’t tell me, you
are still going to keep my things right?”
“You said I could keep them. Here is your toothbrush and nightgown. You can keep
the shirt.” He gave me back my nightgown.
“Give me a hug.” This is what I’ll really miss. Have to be strong.
He has done this too many times. Completely numb to the thought this time we
really are breaking up.
“Don’t stop by any time soon.”
There is always tomorrow. My roommate has caught on though. “What happened? You
two broke up?” There it is.
Glad that Mindy still wants to talk to me after all that. It has been a few
months. I still feel the burn. Her apartment looks as usual. The weird punk
acting like he knows something sitting on the balcony. Some garbage spread out
along the fence, almost decorative. The girl driving by looks like me. The same
kind-of car too, color, make, model and everything.
“Hi. What kept you?” It isn’t that late.
“Hi. You’re ready.” Mindy must have noticed me and
“I had to drop by my Grandmother’s today. She’s all right. The weirdest thing
just happened though. A girl drove by that looked like me and in the same
kind-of car. Talk about double take.” She looks confused.
“That is weird. Thought I saw you the other day. Then I called your house and
you were home. Someone around the neighborhood looks like you.” Do I look
“I bet that’s all it is. How is everybody? Ran into David and Ann. They might be
going out now. It was short. I feel bad for freaking out, but no one will
forgive me. Do you know what’s going on?” David took the worst of it.
“Not really. It wasn’t a big deal. People can be real sensitive you know.” You
mean sensitive about psychotic strangers threatening to shock you with a
“Your hair looks good with the red streaks. It is way better than simply dyed
black hair.” Her hair really looks better.
“It has been wonderful with extra body and tone. Everyone has been saying my
hair is nice lately. Do you want to go get coffee?” No.
“I just got off work. Going to a restaurant doesn’t sound too appealing. You
should know. You work in a coffee place too.”
“That’s the whole point. Someone else is bringing the coffee, not me. You’ve
become a hermit. Stop dwelling in the past.” Mindy is always right.
“Sure easy for you to say, moved my hours around to avoid people. I don’t feel
comfortable anymore. Jan doesn’t like those places either.” Well, he really
“Don’t worry about Jan. Your boyfriend doesn’t own you. It’ll make you feel
better.” Save the hour argument.
“Maybe you are right. Let’s go.” We will go where I work. It feels safer.
The coffee house was somewhat busy. Of course we promote, “Take-out coffee on
the run.” Not much you can do with four small tables. Everyone seems fine.
Familiar faces, the table in the back must be having fun. Wish they weren’t
staring at me though. “Hi, Mike. Business has picked up.” I love his smile.
“What’s the special occasion? You never come here
off-hours.” Suddenly probing.
“Nothing really. Do you want to come sit with us? It is easier to talk that way.
We will have two mochas.” I would like him even if he wasn’t my boss.
Sitting there, some conversations started drifting around us. Something must
have been said about me. There are enough people who don’t like me now. The
conversations were strange. Questioning why I was there in the first place. Then
someone was talking about a plot from a storybook and directing it at me.
Getting late, needed to sleep before school. Nice seeing people again. They were
talking about someone else. I’m sure they were.
Checking messages. Nick called again. He wants to say “Hi.” Thought it would be
nice to chat over a cup of coffee.
Getting home from school, the phone rings. I was not going to call him back.
“Sure, we can meet down the street from my house. It is walking distance. See
I don’t want to go talk to him. He cheated on me so many times and threw it in
my face. Why does he even think we are friends anymore?
“Hi. Long time no see.” Dressing down today. I can’t remember when he wore a
“It is nice seeing you again. Why the sudden phone call?” It has been a long
“Ran in to someone at the mall. They said we should talk.” Who said we should
“Here I am. I’ve almost graduated, got a full-time job and a new boyfriend.” Jan
“I’m working now too. Got engaged to that gal at the party after we broke up.”
Throw it in my face. Your new retainer is lovely.
“I kind-of made a spectacle of myself huh. Still with that guy from the other
party in May.” You remember him. He is totally different from you. He has short,
sun-bleached hair, going to college and a future.
“Why did we ever break up?” It is like talking to a wall.
“You cheated on me and embarrassed me in public. What makes you think you’re so
cool anyway?” He will not give a straight answer, but I tried.
“Well, that was back then. We started in an open relationship. Then when we got
more serious, I guess, I couldn’t handle it. You’re the one who left me.”
Didn’t answer the question.
“That’s right I went out with someone else so you’d take a hint and leave me
alone. You didn’t see it coming? I was able to be faithful. You were just
hurtful. You didn’t have to do that. I will never forgive you.” That must make
That guy said, “Seems alright to me.”
“Who was that?” Now people are listening in on our conversation.
“Can I go over to your house for a half-hour? Come one just a half-hour.” Not
“You want a pre-marital quickie. Are you deaf?” He is the wall.
Walking to the car he wants directions to the liquor store and my phone number.
“You called me. I don’t have a pen. As for the liquor store, turn left on the
main road, then right. It is across the street from the mall.” Stress is killing
Saying good-bye was hard and he didn’t notice the pen on the back seat. Driving
is nice in the spring. The air is sweet with pollen and fresh rain. The guy at
the coffee place was probably talking about someone else.
Cuddling on the sofa, Jan is down to Earth. Too bad the phone is ringing again.
I should disconnect it. “Hi Mindy.” She wants to meet tonight. “Sorry, I have
to work tomorrow and Jan is over right now. Maybe some other time.”
“Sure how about tomorrow. I’ll call you when you get home from school.”
Persistent, wonder what could be going on.
“Tomorrow we can meet at the pool hall up the street from my house.” Don’t mind
the pool hall. It is where I went growing up.
Nice she was trying to make amends. She had been really sketchy. Wondering why I
didn’t pay attention to her. Could be from spending more time at work,
school or with my new friends. Jan wants to get an apartment together. She
better show up this time.
Sitting at the pool hall it has been four hours. I
played a couple video games and got something to eat.
If she doesn’t show up maybe someone else will. This
really bites. I don’t even want to see her now, but
now I have a reason to not like her. Playing stupid
games with me, because she thinks she is all pretty
now. Oh wait, there she is with her knew guy, Chad.
This had better be good.
“Hi, I forgot we were meeting here tonight.” Good
explanation. Why didn’t I think of that? I’m ready to
go home. Why is she saying, “Hi.” to the people at the
She set me up. “I have to go now. Nice hanging out
here for awhile, reminiscent.”
“Stay and play with us. I am so totally sorry, I
forgot” I’m so totally sorry I waited.
“I have to go . . .. Maybe one game.” It couldn’t
Playing for a little bit her friends started getting
hostile towards me. That was it. She had been
spreading all the rumors. As long as we were friends
she would set me up to look stupid. Making a run from
my car, she followed. It is taking awhile to lose them
on the road
The phone is ringing. “Why did you leave like that?”
She is sitting outside in her car.
“It is way too late. I need to get some sleep. You
left me hanging. This is the last time I will meet you
to do anything.” My time is important. That was a huge
waste of it.
“Here talk to Chad.” Chad is going to perform magic.
“Why did you drive away?” He is new around here.
“Why? You let me stand around all night because you
forgot. Keep your girlfriend away from me!” I have no
time for these games. Slamming the phone down is
becoming too frequent.
Drop to the ground. Breathe. Breathe. She is out
there. Did I really hang-up on her? I hope she doesn’t
come in. As long as I stay down they can’t see me.
“Where is Melissa? I have to tell her, so she doesn’t
let them in.” This carpet needs to be vacuumed. You
never really notice until crawling on the floor to
avoid freaky friends that are out to get you. Good
both doors are locked. “Is that her outside? Please,
don’t let them in.”
“What are you doing here?” Melissa, do not let them
“Wondering what is wrong with Herica.” What is wrong
“It is four o’clock in the morning, go home. Work it
out tomorrow” Go Melissa. Hold down the fort! Tell
them off. Why is it so quiet all of a sudden? I should
be in bed by the time she gets in. The bedroom door
still squeaks. Moving it gently to close.
“What a bunch of weirdoes coming over this late at
night. My shift just ended, otherwise, I’d be dead
asleep too.” Talking to her self is fine right now.
I bet they talked to her about me. How could they hide
this from me? I’m so gullible. Mindy was playing me
the entire time. She said she was a control freak. It
is like the murderer leaving crumbs for the detective.
The day she told me she stalked a couple guys after
school, then pinned it on her best friend. She was
even proud of telling me. Then my best friend and I
took her to the mall. She started acting distant and
treated me differently. It is all in front of me now.
She was going behind my back the whole time. It worked
once. Why shouldn’t it work again?
Everyone is against me. It doesn’t take long, and then
everything is all screwed up. Almost dropped one of
the classes, because of one of her friends. I need to
graduate. I don’t even know why he was in the class to
begin with. She is the one who ruined my birthday. All
those people, I don’t even know, hate me. I can’t stop
it now. It has gone on too long.
Even if took her side, they believe whatever it is she
is saying. If only I knew what she was saying. It
could be anything. Probably even Melissa. No. Not
Melissa. She couldn’t possibly be in on it. She
doesn’t even like Mindy.
It’s too late now. I have to defend myself somehow. I
remember the last place I worked. Those two guys
showed up and then the manager fired me for no reason.
Keep steady. Breathe. Breathe. Relax and focus. I can
get through this. There must be something I can do.
Anything. Anything, even count back wards from 10 to
1. “10. . .9. . . 8. . . 7. . . 6. . . 5. . . 4. . ..”
Everything is fine again. Mornings are the best. “Hi,
Melissa. You are up early.”
“Some of your freaky friends were outside last night.
You shouldn’t hang out with Mindy. She is on something
and it isn’t prescribed. Maybe it is prescribed.”
“Maybe she forgot something. I darted off pretty
fast.” That sounds intelligent.
“That’s what I said. She and some guy were sitting in
their car outside when I got home from work. I need my
sleep too.” I wonder what they said to her.
“I got to get going. Rather get to class early than
late.” At least finals will be over soon.
“Bye.” Melissa is so nice.
“Bye.” That is how normal people act.
Walking outside I could hear the phone ringing. After
a point, you really are paranoid. Bet it is a
Taking test was a breeze. I’m sure to get a B or an A.
Brendan was there before class, as usual. That looks
like the guy who knew Mindy. He is just sitting
outside the building. “Hi.” No accounting for personal
The sun is out, a little chilly before noon. Traffic
is scarce and everything is accounted for. Wallet,
uniform, books, book bag no having to go back for
anything. Work as usual. It will take a minute to
change. Slow again.
Here for two hours and hardly anyone has stopped by.
Wait a second, in the parking lot; it looks like those
two guys. The ones who got me fired from the other
place. Great! What should I say to them?
“Hi, would you like some coffee today? Our house
special is Kona.” It usually is.
“We’ll have two lattes.” Two lattes and a failed
attempt to ruin me . . . to go.
“I’ll bring them out to you in a minute.” Smile, no
need to give them a reason.
What are they doing here? They are going to try and
get me fired. It’s alright. I’m fine.
“Here you go. Consider these ones on the house.” Hope
you aren’t staying long.
“Thank you. You don’t have to be so nice to us.”
You’re right. You’re here to make me lose my job
“It is my pleasure. Don’t you come here often?” No
answer. Just keep smiling.
Walk back to the counter. Walk. Walk. Everything is
fine. There is Mike. I get to go in a bit. Why are
they smiling at me? They walked over to the manager.
I have to know what they said about me. “They wanted
to complain about the service. They said it took you
too long to give them their lattes and you haven’t
asked them if they wanted a refill.”
“They asked for lattes. We don’t refill those.” They
are out to get me. Open your eyes.
“I know. I’ll go take them a couple drinks in a
minute.” They need to leave.
“Why won’t anyone talk to me! I am not crazy! They are
doing this. It is all a lie whatever it is.” Does Mike
understand? I will go escort them out. “You are not
welcome here. You haven’t bought anything for two
hours now. You have to leave.” That’s right. Leave
“We don’t have to leave. We would have bought
something if you came over and asked us if we wanted
refills.” This is a coffee shop, not a restaurant.
“Shut-up. Just Shut-up! Leave me alone. Why can’t you
leave me alone?” Wow. I didn’t mean to hit him. He is
still smiling. They got me. Now he is looking upset.
“Did you see that? She attacked me! Someone better get
the police.” Did not.
“There is one on the corner.” That’s convenient.
“I did not hit you on purpose.” Maybe subconsciously I
“That’s her. She started yelling. Then she hit my
friend.” He would say that.
“Leave me alone.” This is not happening.
“She is crazy officer. You should lock her up before
she can do more damage.” Oh God, police. If I lay down
and cry they won’t do anything to me.
I am the victim here. “Come on. Don’t make this hard
“You don’t know her either. She is controlling you.
She will use you and throw you away. Don’t you see? It
is all lies. Everything she said was a lie. I don’t
even know you and you want to hurt me. She will never
let you go. Ever!” Let me go. Can’t they take a hint?
I belong here. They do not belong here. No one
believes me. Why does the other officer have a shot .
My head hurts. Everything is blurry. Focus on
something. I am in a hospital, strapped to a gurney.
No one is around. They won’t notice if I leave. Glad I
took yoga. Move a little and cup my hands to get out
of the restraints. My arm is free. It will take a
minute to undo the rest now.
I need to protect myself. They are all out to get me.
They will never let me go. I have to get out. They
always have stuff in the cabinets. Put the pins in the
soap and that will threaten them. It looks dangerous.
Feels tingly when I rub my hand across it. Looks are
It is too small. I can’t hold it. I need something,
something, something . . .. There, the cotton
bandages. Tie it around my hands. The needles have to
poke through. Wrap it around my hands a few times. It
is stable now.
Now I need to hide. There is only the bed, the cabinet
and the gurney. If I put it over here and duck behind
it they will not see me. They are not going to get me.
I won’t let them. I’ll run past them. They won’t
The door is opening, two against one. “Wasn’t there
someone in this room?”
“Room 512A” I am on the fifth floor.
“Where is she then?” I’m right here. You want to leave
with the door open.
“There she is.” They see me.
Take some gurney loser. You won’t win. “Security. We
need security!” He is getting more of them!
He caught me. Stop grabbing my hands! “Settle down.
You need to calm down and everything will be fine.”
Everything will not be fine.
“Stop grabbing me! Let me go! I’m not going to let you
do this!” He’s got my arm! Why won’t he let go? This
pincushion isn’t doing anything. “Let me go!” Why is
this happening? “No! No! You can’t do this! All of it
is a lie! It is all lies ...They are lying. You
can’t believe them.” Is that Brittany?
About the Author:
As a writer
horror has always fascinated me, the suspenseful
lingering of psychological horror of King, Hitchcock
and Barker. With a few published short stories
“Hysteria” plays on the minds defenses of reality and
the oddities that compel people into complete lose of
logic and reason. Drawing away from all of her
friends the heroine, eventually realizes she is not
paranoid, but delusional in her attempts to fight a
hidden enemy. It is hard to tell who is hysterical
her, or her friends. The Dictionary’s Definition of
Hysteria is, “A state of intense agitation, anxiety,
or excitement, especially as manifested by large
groups or segments of society.” The plot is woven
around the her thoughts as evidence keeps presenting
itself that someone wants her out of the picture. Visit
email her at: email@example.com