Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

We Stand Too Close

Posted 11/15/2021 by McKenzy Perkins

A character choosing between personalities in order to understand the struggles of Dissociative Identity Disorder. artwork by McKenzy Perkins 

We Stand Too Close

During a fictional writer’s workshop, writers were asked to create a fictional story from the point of view of a character that stands too close to people while talking. I took the angle of mental illness representing and in a way defeating the stigma against Dissociative Identity Disorder. 

I start my day every single morning the exact same as I have for the past six years: wake up, shower, get dressed, skip breakfast, get coffee, go to school. Lunch is where my schedule goes off, I talk, I socialize, I do not eat. Why would I eat? From a coronary view, eating makes my breath smell.

I have been told that I whisper quietly, I tend to lean in, and that I mumble in normal conversation. Something I know I should try to get better at, but I kind of lose myself sometimes. That is what happens when a person like me enters the conversation. I mumble because I get scared and nervous. I mumble because I am in fact a little odd, but I whisper because I really have nothing to share, nothing that anyone wants to hear anyway.

See, here is the thing, I get too excited. I get excited because maybe this particular day is different from the previous. Maybe this particular day, I may actually have something to share. Maybe today, I can enter the conversation as someone who is vocal about their opinions and less insecure about their voice. 

I start my morning off just the same as yesterday, but today I was more excited to go to school, and hope to execute my plans during lunch. I know that I am the quiet girl usually, and that means no one could ever possibly enjoy my presence. Today my excitement is going to push me to do something I had never done before. Today I am going to walk straight into the cafeteria and do what I do, grab my lunch, but before I leave to go sit by myself outside, I am going to try and sit next to Nathaniel. 

Nathaniel is the one human being that seems to generally see me. He seems to get me, although I have not spoken a single word to him. Right now, it is 11:00 on the dot. 

Fifteen more minutes. I think to myself, silently in the corner of the classroom. I chose this seat for myself knowing I probably would not be able to associate with any of my peers, or do any group work in general.

As I sit I admire the swirls in the paint on the walls, you do not see it much, but they are quite beautiful. I find myself looking around, waiting for the bell to ring at exactly 11:15. As soon as I hear the rusty old bell chime, I jog right to the cafeteria. 

The possibilities are endless, I can, and I will do this. I say to myself while I am standing in line to get my food. I see him, standing there with short hair and a kind of burlesque acquisition. I get my food, but then I realize, I must speak in less than 45 minutes. I throw it away in the nearest trash can, and realize I most likely will not eat anything until suppertime. 

I walk directly towards Nathaniel’s table, he sits awkwardly with his friends and continues to pretend he fits in. We both know that he doesn’t. Distracted by the way I amped myself up, I zone out. I sit awkwardly and everything begins to spill out of my mouth. I continue to inch closer.

“You are sitting far too close to me, who even are you?” Nathaniel exclaims.

“Oh, no one, I am so sorry…” 

My day switched, and suddenly this day was opposite of the last. I think about how often I do this and shut it out. 

Why can I not remember?