Give me time

More stories from Grace Pennington


Ten days. I sat in silence for ten days. 

The conference room I was situated in stood so quiet I could hear the buzzing of the lights overhead. As my ears began to focus on the buzzing, I became ornery and irritated. 

My fragile hands clenched the seams of my seamless shirt and longed for the tangibility of my conceptual ghosts. I felt alone. I was alone.

The week prior I couldn’t bring myself to go to school. Stress due to missing assignments, tests, and quizzes enhanced the anxieties of returning. I couldn’t go back; I wouldn’t go back.

Day one:

I walked into school with my eyes glassed over and aware that I would not go to any of my classes. I was too scared— too intimidated by the previous week of school I had missed and not ready for the welcome backs from my peers and teachers. They would see a broken version of the person they thought they knew. 

The office came into view and a sense of relief trailed up my unstable persona. A comforting and sympathetic smile greeted me as I walked in. The smile escorted me to a room that would soon become my sanctuary. 

Day three:

The silence started to bother me. I craved connection with my peers; however, I was still too faint-hearted to step into the classroom. I felt small and my emotions delicate. The thought of school put me in a panic, yet my anxieties were overcome by the quietness of the conference room.

I felt small and my emotions delicate.”

I sank into my chair while taking a deep breath. Determined to stay on track with my classes, I began to take the tests and quizzes I had missed the week before.

Day seven:

Rumors reached inside the walls of my safe place. I began to feel insecure with my relationships, shoving my mental health two steps backward. My thoughts became more hostile and pessimistic. 

Slowly, the conference room walls began to cave in, resembling a hug filled with empathy calming my heavy feelings. 

Day ten:

I was strong. My bones are covered by a thick layer of skin and ready for human contact. Saying goodbye, I thanked the walls for providing me a place of tranquility and warmth. 

Day eleven:

I walked through the door to my fourth hour with sweat gathering towards the center of my forehead. Apprehensively, my hand tugged for the seams of my shirt, although this time the fabric collected in my palms. Feeling a sense of security, I took a deep breath. 

A smile filled with satisfaction spread across my face when my return was not the talk of the hour. Though welcomed back by my peers whole-heartedly, I went unnoticed by my teacher. I walked with confidence to her desk; however, her face drew blank as I asked her where my new seat was located. Her expression mimicked confusion and uncertainty.

My smile quickly diminished when I registered the circumstances of the situation—she didn’t remember who I was. Her lack of memory felt as if I was being punished for my poor mental health. I quickly became indignant and resentful.

In order to excel and put forth my best efforts, I need time. Time to process, time to comprehend, time to rest. Sometimes, I need to take a day off to rehabilitate. 

Sometimes, I need to take ten days.