One of my favorite situations, where I am at ease and can shine, is speaking in front of a crowd. I even volunteered to teach senior driving classes after retirement so I could keep doing it.
But get me into the middle of a crowd of milling strangers, just one of the herd, and I come completely unwrapped. I have left parties early because there were too many guests, and I never visit the cinema in the first few weeks of a new movie's release. They're just too crowded.
That's why this week's prompt from Charli Mills for the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge gave me a little shiver:
April 6, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a response to an agoraphobic moment. Does your character see the shadows or the light filtering through? This can be used as a character trait or as a moment that causes an anxious reaction. Explore the character’s discomfort — embarrassment, indecision, feeling trapped. The scene can be direct or overheard. Is there a solution when fears are faced?
I've tried many tricks to overcome the fear of the madding crowd, but phobias are hard to banish from the inside. It often takes an outsider's eye to spot the patch of blue among the clouds.
Sense of SpaceTravis swallowed, his throat dry. Panic rolled in his gut as a crowd of children surged past. Disneyland was a scary place for him!
His therapist's voice cut through his fear. "Look around, Travis," she said. "What do you see when you look down?"
"Kids. Lots of kids." The words escaped past gritted teeth.
"Okay, Look farther out; what do you notice?"
Travis shook. He was going to lose it! "Their parents." Then, "Too many people! Too many!"
"Okay," came her quiet reply. "Now look up."
Above him, the endless sky brought him the sense of space he needed.