Today was most definitely a day I would classify as “weak,” meaning that I did not accomplish even half of what I had planned. My room is still a mess, I’m running out of clean clothes, I ate like a pig and got no exercise. I’m slipping back into selfish, lazy habits and I am ashamed and feeling incredibly weak. I would like nothing more than to admit defeat, crawl under some covers, and have a nice, healthy cry.
It is with this mindset that I offer you tonight’s prompt. As always, please comment and respond with advice, criticisms, pieces of your own, or just a friendly word.
THE PROMPT: “OCD”
Your character is an obsessive compulsive. Describe his or her morning. Do not use the words “obsessive compulsive.” (Show, don’t tell.)
Anna woke to the sound of four alarm clocks buzzing in union. The sudden fury of sound startled her to attention, and while Anna knew that one alarm clock would suffice, it did not change the fact that she needed four. Four alarm clocks ringing out in the still morning air made sure she would be awake. Four was sure- a certainty, and it did make her feel better. Anna went to sleep easier because she knew she would not oversleep in the morning, and would not miss anything. The day would start as it should, and all could be right with the world. Certainly it was not crazy to think that successfully starting the day was inextricably linked to successfully ending the day, right?
Her clean feet landed firmly on the wooden floor, and her toes wiggled for an even count of four. Anna felt it necessary to waken each part of her body because that way, she would not suffer any kind of physical mishaps that could send a perfectly ordinary day spiraling into a nightmare, like cramps or embolisms or aneurysms. She sat and rose, sat and rose, sat and rose, sat and rose, and then stood up straight and tall. She raised her right arm and lowered it, raised her right arm and lowered it, raised her right arm and lowered it, and raised her right arm and lowered it before completing the same exact exercise with her left arm. Anna could swear she felt the blood running more vibrantly through her veins, excited to be traveling to freshly woken limbs. She felt better, she really did.
She headed to the bathroom, crossing the threshold once … and then backing out to reenter three more times. One only had to be careful when entering the room because all the possibility lay in that moment, where as when one left a room, the damage (so to speak) was done. Anna reasoned that a similar logic applied when climbing into the shower, perhaps even more so because the danger was increased, what with the rushing water, sharp razor, and the vulnerability of being naked. So the right leg was lowered and raised, lowered and raised, lowered and raised, lowered and raised before resting on the bathmat, and before the left could rest as easily, it also needed to be lowered into and raised out of the tub four times. As a result, she did not cut herself while shaving, did not slip or even get shampoo in her eyes. A shower went a long way to make one feel human, particularly when said shower was successful and secure.
Towel wrapped tightly around, Anna crossed through the bedroom door, backed out and reentered for a total of four times before she headed toward the closet, smiling broadly and eager to select a sleek and professional looking pair of pants, and coupling it with an interesting, colorful top. She applied deodorant four times, brushed her hair four times, left and entered her bedroom four times before she went into the kitchen to begin breakfast. The green digital numbers on the stove read 4:30AM. Work did not begin until 9:00AM and she did not have to leave the house until 8:30AM, but she had to allow time for her rule of four.
The smile she had been wearing dimmed considerably when she was overwhelmed by exhaustion. She knew damn well that she did not have to be up and moving so early, that she was intelligent enough to realize that doing things four times did nothing to ease her mounting anxieties but she was too weak to do anything else. Ashamed and desperate to break, to crawl back into bed and sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep, Anna wiped the tears from beneath her eyes – four times for each eye – and got the same mug she always used from the cabinet (but only after she opened and shut the door four times).