Il cellulare sul bancone prese a vibrare, riportandomi alla realtà. Avevo ricevuto un messaggio. Allungai un braccio per controllare chi fosse il mittente, ma fui colpita da un tremore acuto. Quel tremore.
Aspettai, ormai rassegnata, che arrivasse anche il resto. Nausea. Vertigini. Vampate di calore seguire da brividi di freddo. Tachicardia. Una fastidiosa sensazione di formicolio in tutto il corpo. E infine, quell’insopportabile impressione di star soffocando. Mi accasciai al suolo, sperando e pregando che nessun cliente entrasse in quel momento e mi trovasse in quello stato.
Il dottore definì tutto ciò come DAP: disturbo da attacchi di panico.
Col tempo avevo imparato a gestirli e controllarli, dovevo stare calma, svuotare la mente, fare respiri profondi. Ultimamente la musica mi era di grande aiuto, peccato non avessi l’mp3 a portata di mano. Mi chiesi quanto ancora avrei dovuto sopportare quella situazione estenuante. La mia vita, da qualche tempo, poteva essere riassunta in due parole: in bilico.
“Okay. Let’s start with a question that doesn’t really have an answer… Why do we write fiction?”
One of the older students, a guy, decides he was game. “To express ourselves,” he offered.
“Sure,” Professor Piper said, “Is that why you write?”
The guy nodded.
“Okay… why else?”
“Because we like the sound of our own voices,” a girl said. She hade hair like Wren’s, but maybe even cooler. She looked like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby (wearing a pair of Ray-Bans).
“Yes,” Professor Pipe laughed. It was a fairy laugh, Cath thought. “That’s why I write, defenetly. That’s why I teach.” They all laughed with her. “Why else?”
Why do I write? Cath tried to come up with a profound answer – knowing she wouldn’t speak up, even if she did.
“To explore new worlds.”
“To explore old ones,” someone else said. Professor Piper was nodding.
To be somewhere else, Cath tought.
“So…” Professor Pipe purred, “maybe to make sense to ourselves?”
“To set ourselver free,” a girl said.
To get free of ourselves.
“To show people what it’s like inside our heads,” said a boy in tight red jeans.
“Assuming they want to know,” Professore Piper added. Everyone laughed.
“To make people laugh.”
“To get attention.”
“Because it’s all we know how to do.”
“Speak for yourself,” the professor said, “I play the piano. But keep going — I love this. I love it.”
“To stop hearing the voices in our heard”, said the boy in front of Cath. He had short dark hair that came to a dusky point at the back of his neck.
To stop, Cath thought. To stop being anything or anywhere at all.
“To leave our mark”, Mia Farrow said.
“To create something that will outlive us.”
The boy in front of Cath spoke up again: “Asexual reproduction”.
Cath imagined herself at her laptop. She tried to put into words how it felt, what happened when it was good, when it was working, when the words were coming out of her before she knew they were, bubbling from her chest, like rhyming, like rapping, like jump-roping, she thought, jumping just before the rope hits your ankles.
“To share something true”, another girl said. Another pair of raybans.
Chat shook her head.
“Why do we write fiction?” Professor Piper asked.
Cath looked down at her notebook.