48. Car WashMarisa was sure she was dying in the car wash. She figured that someone would eventually come up to her car when she didn’t “please pull forward” and find her, too late to be saved.

Her chest hurt. She couldn’t catch her breath. She could feel blackness closing in on her vision. It was a slight flutter at first, but the more she noticed it, the worse it got. It was a feedback loop of panic.

As the torrent of water and soap sprayed on her car, Marisa thought it was ironic that we would keel over during the one part of her week where she felt the least stress. Between managing the idiots at work, making sure everyone was fed and clothed at home, taking care of her elderly parents and playing the latest round of keeping her no-good brother away from the parent’s bank account, she had actually started to look forward to the weekly car wash. The water and its white noise was soothing, and she soon found herself at the car wash even if the car wasn’t particularly dirty. It was the next best thing to a warm bath, and no one could interrupt her here.

Today, though, as she let herself relax, something was different. Her mind wandered to the things pulling her this way and that. She felt… chased, as if she couldn’t get away. And that’s when she started to notice her heartbeat, beating faster as her mind tried to escape.