911 for the First Time
Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?
Perhaps this question is a bit unfair. My earliest childhood memories involve giving speeches in community competitions, performing vocal solos at church and acting for hundreds at once. In many ways, I have been bred to perform, and part of the art of performance is the ability to control the body’s natural, primordial reaction to fear. In this way, my body almost always seems outwardly calm. Yet none of this is why the prompt may be considered unfair for me to answer.
You see, I have General Anxiety Disorder, so as soon as I open the door of my home- and sometimes a few paces before- I am instantly and incessantly overwhelmed by “heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness.” The blessing, and the curse, is that no one can tell but me.
I have been in several dangerous situations which, I suppose, would more aptly qualify for the meat and girth of this prompt. I suppose we should go with the less recent one because its sting has since palled and its uniqueness has yet to cease to amaze me.
It was a weeknight, one of those calm, sticky southern nights that makes you wish you could sleep forever, if only for the chance to escape the humidity. 3 am. There’s a certain magick, power in that hour, isn’t there? There was a slowly rising rumble from outside my window, a chaotic yelping not that different from what one might hear at a soccer game. Except this was no soccer game, and the insistence of the noise commingled with my groggy logical conclusions that, no, there should not be a game going on at this hour, I slowly, anciently creaked myself off the bed and towards the window. From the perch of my second story apartment, I could see a gathering of blobs across the parking lot, as I had not yet found my glasses, that I sensed were human beings. Angry human beings. The glasses came on, and with the clearer vision came a stronger focus on the words being uttered, nay, shouted across the asphalt lawn.
“I’ve got a gun!” A female voice belted out defiantly, instantly setting all my nerve endings on fire, “And I’ll shoot you. I will!”
Sounding tame, whipped, frantic, a male voice echoed across the surreal moment, “Dude, she’s serious. Dude!”
I immediately withdrew from my watchtower and, every inch of my body far colder than ice, dialed 911. A slightly stern but nonetheless amiable woman answered the line.
“911. What’s your emergency?”
I took a deep, adrenaline-curbing breath and spoke with a voice that sounded, to me, far calmer than the words they were uttering, “There’s a group of people in my neighborhood arguing. And the lady said she had a gun.”
Probingly, testing me, the respondent asked, “Did you see the gun?”
“No, she’s on the other side of the parking lot from me.”
“Are there any police there already?”
“No, not that I can see.”
“Are the people still standing there?”
Then she asked for the name of my apartment complex, and all I could do was sit and wait. Fifteen urgent minutes slipped by, and the crowd gradually dispersed to a location somewhere outside of my view. Ten minutes after that, a lone police car came yawning into the turnabout and, seeing nothing, just as slowly rolled away.