Clare has a problem with depression. And anxiety. And panic attacks. But thanks to her therapist, the depression is gone, and the anxiety only returns when she’s triggered. And that’s what she’s working on now. Her triggers. Eliminating them. Her therapist says she needs to establish firm boundaries. She needs to decide who to allow into her world, and who to exclude. But how? How do you do that? Boundaries. Clare hasn’t a clue. She turns right on Hudson Street. It’s freezing outside. But the heater is warm. And it’s blowing on her hands, filling the car with the sweet fragrance of her favorite perfume, Emeraude. This is her happy scent. The only perfume she’s worn since high school. And she still receives compliments on it. Her secret? It’s her hands. Clare never sprays perfume on her wrists. Instead, she moisturizes her hands with unscented lotion. When the lotion dries, she sprays the tops of her hands with Emeraude. The scent lasts all day. She reaches Westmoreland Avenue and turns left. Clare never had a problem with depression or anxiety until her husband discovered the brain-numbing bliss of cocaine. He’s a surgeon. She thought doctors knew better. Guess not. Their divorce was hard. But she survived it. Then her father lost his battle with lung cancer. His funeral was hard. But she survived it. Six months later her sister dropped dead in the kitchen from a brain aneurysm. Her funeral was hard. Too hard to survive. Clare parks in front of the accounting firm where she works as a receptionist. On the radio is an interview with a celebrity she’s always admired. “No one is safe in this country anymore,” the celebrity says. “Trust no one.” Great. Just what Clare’s anxiety needed to hear. Click. No more radio. Who needs paranoid celebrities? Not her. Who needs the radio? Not her. Years ago her best friend said, “Clare, my world is small, but it’s a happy world.” Boundaries. Okay. This could be easier than she thought.
Laura Stamps loves to play with words and create experimental forms for her fiction. Author of 29 novels, novellas, and short story collections. Her latest novella: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RIDE: CAT MANIA (Alien Buddha Press). Muses Prize. Pulitzer Prize nomination. 7 Pushcart Prize nominations. Mom of 4 cats. Web: laurastampsfiction.blogspot.com Twitter: @LauraStamps16