“Ding!” The sound of the elevator signalled the arrival of the metal box. It was a hot Monday afternoon, and my friend, Tom, was with me on the ground floor of my apartment block. Swaying gently, I steadied myself on my crutches, glancing down at the heavy plastic cast around my right foot.
Tom coaxed me into the lift, but I refused. “Why can’t I use the stairs?” I whined.
Tom waved my heavy school bag at me in a dismissive gesture. “You are being silly. Just go inside the lift or I will leave you here!” Sighing, I hobbled into the lift. There was a reason behind my refusal to enter the lift. Ever since I had been trapped in an elevator when I was a toddler, I had struggled with an overwhelming fear of enclosed spaces. All I had to do was think of an elevator, and I would be forcibly reminded of my night in the lift, surrounded by pitch darkness and absolute silence. I had screamed and screamed through my tears, desperate to hear the sound of other people outside. Though the ordeal lasted only a few minutes, I developed claustrophobia.
Eventually, I gave in. The elevator felt stuffy to me despite the working ventilation fan. I found it difficult to breathe. I felt the walls closing in mercilessly, causing cold sweat to trickle down my forehead. My heart palpitated wildly in fear as blood drained from my face. My clammy hands slipped on my crutch. Tom was acutely aware of my fear. Being a good friend, he calmly assured me, “It’s ok. Everything is fine.” I took a few deep breaths while trying to think of calming things like happy memories. Tom continued to console me, holding my hand and patting me on the back.
When the lift finally came to a grating stop and the door opened, the sweetest breath of cold air greeted me. I hobbled out of the elevator as fast as I could, grateful to have survived the ride.
After this triumph, I knew I could control my fears. It felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted from my shoulders. Perhaps I could even conquer my claustrophobia one day!
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