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A new day, today, and I'm back in classes. Unfortunately for me, my little attacks cost me all of yesterday -- I never made it back before the day was over. And the walk that I took has left me with very bad sunburns on my shoulders; oddly enough, they don't hurt. I keep poking at them, but they don't hurt.

The time comes for me to march myself up to my second period class and confront my fate. Mrs. Fowler is waiting by her desk as a spider on her web. As soon as I sit down, she jumps up and asks, "Melanie, where were you yesterday?"

"Uh, not here." The most vague answer I can give her, as I have decided to remain nebulous.

"Were you here at all?"

"First period. I had to leave after first period."

She paces over to the windows and sighs. "Ok, well, I'm going to have to write it up as a cut. You've got detention today after school."

I nod and she turns her attention away to begin class. I sit quietly, not paying attention, and worrying if the rest of my teachers will have the same attitude as she has. I hope not -- there's not enough days left in the school year for seven days of detention.


Last period of the day -- the class takes their quiz like a good little class does; quietly, without interruption. Mr. Grant, however, breaks that silence with role call from the previous day. "Terri, Melanie. Where were you two yesterday?"

I am shocked. Other than Mrs. Fowler, he is the only teacher to ask about my whereabouts. Nervous, I let Terri answer first, but Mr. Grant soon accepts her answer and turns his attention towards me. "Melanie? Where were you?"

"Um..." I play with my watch as I search for an acceptable answer. "Not here." Dead silence. "I ... just kind of left."

"Did you sign out?"

"No." The class begins to pay attention to our conversation, and I grow even more nervous. I can feel my face draining itself of blood already, and I feel like I'm about to fall out of my chair. "I'll explain later."

And with that, I turn my attention back to my own quiz. The class loses interest.

Twenty minutes later, and the bell rings. The end of the day, finally -- I've been stressed enough and now I can finally unwind. But there's still the matter of explaining...

I wait for everybody to file out and then approach Mr. Grant's desk. Still playing with my watch, I ask, "Did you get the paper I put in your mailbox Monday afternoon?"

He nods, then moves to the center of the room, where he pulls out a little chair and sits. "Did you want to talk about it?"

It. He doesn't mean the essay -- he means not coming to class. I take a deep breath, try to hold it in because I don't know what I'm going to say next, can't possibly know, and I can't think straight now because the edges around my vision are turning gray, and he's staring at me, waiting for me to say something, anything, so I do. "I sort of had a panic attack," I manage to blurt out.

Oh, crap. I didn't mean to say it. I didn't mean to actually vocalise my fears, didn't mean to tell him the truth but give him some run around answer instead. And I try to watch him, to see his reaction to this, but my vision's still not working correctly; and I have to remember to breathe, in and out, because otherwise I could pass out. And I start swaying on my feet at that thought.

"And you didn't sign out?" he asks. I shake my head slowly. "Go to the nurse, guidance, anyone?" This time I shake my head too quickly and immediately get a headache for that trouble. One of my worse phobias are doctors. "Why not?"

"I just... " I struggle here. How can I explain it if he doesn't have a point of reference? "I couldn't."

He nods slowly, a sort of "I see" nod rather than an "I accept it". He begins another barrage of questions: "Does anyone else know?" "How about your parents?" "Did any of your other teachers ask you about yesterday?" I reply with the truth: it doesn't satisfy him.

"This is serious."

"No, it's not. It's fine, really." I struggle to make it seem like it's not quite so huge a problem, like it's some trivial joke that I made to lighten the mood. I don't succeed.

"Yes, it is. Maybe I should go have a talk with Mrs. Fowler." He gets up from the chair and heads towards his desk.

"No! It's ok, really!" I fear that maybe he's going to go talk to her now, that maybe that's why he's gotten up, and I shoot out of the door, turning left and running upstairs to the wing dedicated to the english department, before he can even blink.


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