I can’t get out.
I checked the locks. I checked the windows, the alarm, and the closet doors. Are all the lights off? What about the front gate – is it closed and locked? I checked them all once, twice, three times.
I’m almost out the door. The car keys are in my hand. In ten minutes I’ll be at work, where I won’t worry so much about the locks, the windows, the alarm, the lights, and the closet doors.
Wait, did I check the lock on the back door?
I have to go back and check. Then, I have to check all the locks, again. Every doorknob, deadbolt and window latch. I touch each lock and turn every knob to make sure it doesn’t twist open. I turn the deadbolts just to make sure they are all hard over in the locked position.
Then, there’s the windows. I pull up on them to make sure they don’t open. Recheck the latches to ensure I didn’t shake one loose when pulling up the window. All are fine, but now I can’t remember if I turned off the upstairs light.
Up the stairs I go. The light is off, but I touch the light switch just to make sure. Then, I go through the house and touch all the light switches to prove they are all in the off position.
I can’t stop.
I can’t get out. I stand in the middle of the living room, clutching my car keys. The exit is just through the kitchen and out the door, but I can’t leave. This is ridiculous – I know this as well as I know I can’t stop.
And then, I wonder: Are the doors and windows locked? I close my eyes and take a deep breath.
“Stop.” I whisper to myself, buy my voice is not strong. It shakes as I stifle the tears. Once again, the demons inside are winning. I draw another deep breath and dig for what little strength I have left.
I race through the kitchen and force myself through the door. I’m in the garage and I can see my car. I lock the last lock – once, twice, three times. I jiggle the door knob just to make sure . . . but, wait.
Is the refrigerator closed? And the pantry door? Is the oven off? I didn’t check! I lean my head on the door in defeat. I have go back inside, again. It never ends. A voice in my head says, “No. You don’t have to,” but I cannot obey.
I’m touching every lock, window, doorknob, and light switch. Once, twice, three times.
I can’t get out.
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