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Every Step of The Way
“Okay Frank, we’re going to try this again.” I silently said to myself. I slowly started to walk towards the door. “Good. You can do this. Keep going. You’re going to make it. You’re almost there Frank.” I forced each step as I kept myself motivated. It was as if I was walking on a tight rope at the circus. Each step felt like my life was about to end.
“GET BACK INSIDE NOW!”
My legs started to wobble and an unbalanced feeling soon took control of my legs. Suddenly I fell on the hard wooden floors. I appreciated the coolness of the floors because I was just so exhausted. Once again my attempt to reach the outside world vanished in an instant. My bottom throbbed with the aching pain from my idiotic fall. Why? Why did those words have to echo in my mind at that very moment? I was finally going to make it outside and feel free again, but those haunting memories held me back. It’s not all their fault. I’m also to blame for my loss in this battle to the door. I allowed the fear within me to take control of my body which triggered the memories to reappear. My fist continuously pounded the floor in frustration. Any common man could have easily opened the door to pick up the newspaper. Any normal man wouldn’t be afraid of the outside world. But I am not a normal man. Am I even human? No, I’m an abomination.
Agoraphobia. In other words Agoraphobia means Frank Williams. A 22 year old man that has continued to hide in his house for 7 years because he is too afraid of the outside world. Stacy, my older sister is out on an important business trip which is why I’m home alone. I’m so thankful that she took me in and I am forever in debt to Stacy. She’s raised me since that terrible day our mother was murdered. I was only 14 at the time. I continued to lay on the hard wooden floors. My body had accepted defeat but my heart was still determined to get outside. I knew that I was still afraid and for that I was ashamed at myself. I let out a huge yell of agony and sadness while I wept loudly. Suddenly someone knocks on the door several times.
“Hey is everything okay in there?” I’m taken aback by the voice talking to me. But without thinking I reply with a “NO! Now go away!” That was the first time anyone from the outside world has bothered to even talk to me and now I was driving this stranger away. This voice definitely sounded like a young man. I hear the stranger shuffling and I am puzzled at what he is doing. Then I realized he has sat down, his back against my door. I wanted to open the door and hug this man for keeping me company but I just couldn’t. My body was still defeated.
“So, what’s your name?” the voice asked me. To tell someone your name is dangerous and requires a lot of trust. But this stranger could also remember my name and we could be the best of friends. I decided to trust him.
“My name is FFF-Frank W-Williams.” I stuttered and I admit I was nervous.
“Who are you?”
“ “My names Tom Johansson” Tom didn’t hesitate but he kept going, “To tell you the truth I was just here to drop off a package addressed to you Mr. Williams. It’s from Ms. Stacy Williams.” Tom paused for about 7 seconds. “But I heard you wailing out to the world. So the only natural thing for me to do was see if you’re alright.”
“Tom why are you still here? Just leave the package and go explore the world. I’m perfectly fine.” I said in a bitter and brutal tone. I was being stubborn and mean. Tom didn’t have to stay, he could have just dropped off the package and left. But he decided to stay and that meant a lot. Though I was being bitter, I was thankful and happy.
““I’m not leaving. Not until I know that you’re actually going to be just fine” Tom wasn’t hurt by my bitter response. He ignored it and I knew he wasn’t going to leave. Then I finally broke down.
“I’m scared Tom.” I sounded like a defenseless child. I thought it was rather pathetic but this is who I’ve become. Frozen in time. Still a 14 year old little boy waiting for his mother to come home.
“Please- I started pleading now“. “Please help me. I want to see the world again. I want my life back.” He didn’t ask what the story was behind my agoraphobia. I had come to the conclusion that Tom knew I was agoraphobic. This man, he was patient and caring. What few human beings are nowadays. I could tell that he wanted to help me.
“Frank, I want you to open that door.” A simple demand for any normal person. But for me, it was as if I were to tackle death to the ground. Impossible. That was the first word to enter my mind at that very moment. But my feet started walking towards the door. Suddenly my hand was on the knob. My body and my heart had switched roles. Now my body wanted to go outside but my heart was defeated. The cold metal doorknob sent shivers through my body. It was shocking and puzzling. I was suddenly face to face with the very door that has guarded me from the world I feared.
“Frank? Are you at the door?” Tom’s voice startled me. I was unaware of my surroundings because the wooden patterns on the door mesmerized me.
“Yes.” I finally responded.
“Okay. Now Frank I want you to twist the doorknob and that open the door. Don’t worry. I’m right here.”
My hand started to rapidly shake as I twisted the doorknob. My eyes grew wide as I saw my own hand make that final twist to finally open the door. There stood the outside world before me. Tom was the first face I have seen from the outside world in 7 years. He looked about my age and had a little chin hair. Tom was tall and he wore his brown UPS uniform. I shut my eyes and inhaled the scent of cherry blossoms. I tilted my head upward towards the heavens above me. Although I was still inside and the roof shunned the beautiful blue sky above me, the image quickly came into my mind. How could this be the world I was so afraid of? In an instant the answer came rushing from the depths of my mind. The memories started to isolate me and suddenly I was a 14 year old teenager again. Frozen in an unforgettable memory.
“DON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE FRANK! WHATEVER YOU DO, JUST DON’T LEAVE! GET BACK INSIDE NOW!” Those were my mothers last words. I watched them brutally beat my mother to death. Each time they thrashed my mother, I felt each thrashing as if I were the one being beaten. Those men…those evil, evil men killed my mother and I was frozen at my door step where I witnessed the entire show. I couldn’t move, my whole body felt so numb and suddenly I was shrieking in terror as I finally realized my mother laid bloody and bruised on our lawn. Bloody, bruised and dead.
“FRANK! Snap out of it Frank!” Tom shouted and began to shake me. Suddenly I returned to reality. Even though I had returned to reality, I was still a vulnerable and disturbed 14 year old boy trapped in a 22 year old mans body. I was crouched down on my door step and Tom held me. He held me and didn’t let go. No matter how homosexual we looked he did not let me go. It was comforting and thoughtful. I started to cry and the tears flooded from my eyes.
“It’s gonna be okay Frank.” When? When would it be ‘okay’? It’s been 7 years and time hasn’t healed these mental and emotional wounds inside me. And this man, Tom was telling me it would be okay. What garbage! But I believed Tom. For some reason I felt I could trust this stranger named ‘Tom’ who had decided to help me. Tom was now inside of my home and he helped me to my feet. The tears still stained my face but I had to push them aside for now.
“Frank. Now I want you to come outside.” The word outside just made me gasp in fear. Who knew a word had that much power to scare a human being. Tom stationed himself on the outer part of the door. He held his arms out parallel to my arms. I of course imitated his actions. He gently grabbed my arms and I held onto his. Tom started to take a step backward. I hesitated at first. Huge droplets of sweat started to slide down the sides of my face. I shut my eyes and fought back the tears. This was it, I was going to fall flat on my face yet again. I was sure of it. Suddenly I saw my mother. Not my bruised and bloody mother, but my original mother. She was tending to her abundant garden filled with sweet smelling flowers. There I was with Stacy. We were helping my mother and I suddenly hear myself speak. “I’m going to travel and see the world mom! I want to travel to every country on this planet. Just you wait and see mom! I promise.”
Then my mothers gentle voice responded. “Frank, I’ll be with you every step of the way.” I opened my eyes.. I not only made it out of my house, but I was on the side walk! How remarkable! I was so overwhelmed with emotions that I started to cry. This time tears of joy ran down my face. I started laughing obnoxiously, not because anything was funny but because I couldn’t contain my happiness. I immediately embraced Tom.
“Thank you!, each thank you was muffled because I was still crying and laughing. Thank you so much! Thank you for helping me! Thank you!” Tom, my new friend Tom is not a human being. Humans are too naïve and mean to be this kind and patient. Tom is indeed my guardian angel that god himself sent down from the heavens. The sun started to shine brighter as I smiled and laughed with disbelief and happiness. I felt the sun warm my entire face. Such warmth, that very same warmth I felt when I would play in the back yard with Stacy on hot summer mornings. Birds started to chirp creating a wonderful tune that would stay with me forever. That tune must have been an angelic welcome back song from god himself. Tom let go of my arms and smiled at me.
“All you have to do is take it one step at a time. And I’ll be with you, every step of the way”