We can begin to panic over the smallest things. Memories come back that we didn’t think we would ever be faced with again.

Author’s note: This essay involves some content of sexual assault, the following post could potentially be triggering for some readers.

Gathered together in a small waiting room of a chiropractor’s office people enter and exit as they please, I sit here thinking about him. As each male walks in I get this unsettling feeling in my stomach; a feeling like someone had taken my insides twisted them, and torn them apart until there wasn’t much left to be said for.

While sitting in one of the many white chairs, I look up and see an older man: left hand in his blue jean pocket, a black pen tucked into the pocket of his dark blue polo shirt, and shiny snow-white hair combed over the top of his head, with a pair of round glasses to finish the look. He smiles innocently at me like he has nothing to hide behind his closed lips, and I give him a smile back; though he doesn’t walk away after, he decides to hang around and stare. He looks at me then glances over to the drinking fountain beside me. My hands begin to shake. What could he possibly be doing or thinking? He is standing in the middle of the waiting room staring into what seems to be either an abyss or my soul. Rather, those two could be the same. My mind instantly starts to think about him again. The thoughts start racing back. Images that I did not want to visualize inside my mind at nine in the morning, start to play like a movie in my head. The older man finally sits down in a chair on the other side of the room. He is still smiling as if his face were stuck that way and looking in my direction like maybe I had a sign above my head saying, “look at me.” My heart rate finally begins to settle, and the thoughts are slowly beginning to diminish.

Just as I thought everything was settling down and this older man was the only person I had to worry about, another male around 30 years old decides the chair to the left of me is a perfect spot to sit. Despite the fact that there are plenty of other options around the room, he chooses to plant himself right next to me. The thoughts are coming back. Him. That’s all I can think about. What he had done to me, and what these people could potentially do.

This new man leans on the armrest closest to me; the room suddenly begins to spin. My stomach still feels as if though it is tied in a thousand knots, my hands are shaking uncontrollably, at this point I’m simply praying that no one notices how much of a wreck I am. That thought on its own makes me even more nervous. I take a look up to the other side of the room. The older man still has his glued-shut-smile staring directly at me. After we make eye contact he stands up and begins to saunter towards me, the drinking fountain, and this 30 some year old man I happen to be sitting next to. It’s time to go into full panic mode without showing any signs of going into full panic mode. Flashbacks are in full effect.

I begin to remember in grave detail when he forced me to unzip his pants. He took my left hand to his zipper and forced me to undo it. He forced himself into my mouth. He took his left hand holding the back of my head, grasping my hair and clutching my left wrist with his right hand; I had no control. This memory goes by quick but I remember even the smallest details like what he was wearing: A blue Hollister t-shirt with the light tan colored cargo shorts. I remember his name, where we were, what he said. The temperature outside, I remember it was colder than usual that day. The taste of his mouth is still sour.

The man with the snow-white hair has finally made his way…to the drinking fountain. The goddamn drinking fountain is where he had planned to go this whole time. This is what I had panicked over. After he was finished with his water he made his merry way back to his seat. I was called back to see my doctor and on my way to the back, the man gave me a full cheek to cheek smile filled with a surplus of innocent anxieties, just for me.

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