There were six of us, women of a certain age, playing mah jongg this morning. We were at two tables, playing 3-and-a-dummy. The upstairs lobby in our friend's senior living complex is bright and airy and, if I sit with my back to the hallway, I can see both the main entrance and the doorway to the balcony.
It feels very safe.
I traded my usual seat without much thought; my friend was warm, and I could feel a breeze she was lacking. I decided not to mind that I couldn't see the doorways; she promised to keep an eye out if there was a tumult below.
I was fine... I was winning.... once then twice then oh, dear this is embarrassing, three times in a row. I managed to fill a 2015 + winds hand; if you know the game you know that doesn't happen very often. I had lots of jokers and it was easy to decide which hand to play and I was cruising along, smiling and accepting kudos and then I jumped about five feet in the air.
A woman seated behind me stood up. Her heavy purse was more than the armchair's backrest could handle and over it went. It's a heavy chair. It made a very loud noise.
The other two women at my table were surprised, too, but neither of them levitated. Neither of them was hyperventilating. They weren't leaning back in their chairs, hands on their bellies, feeling the breath going in... deeply... holding and slowly releasing. They were a little bit concerned about me, though, since I was doing all of that while trying mightily to smile.
I was fine. I would be better soon. Was she okay, the one whose chair set this off? The fact that she didn't go over with the chair is the saving grace of the situation; the rest of it was awful.
I was back on the cold sidewalk, looking into Christina-Taylor's eyes. My heart was pounding and my chest could barely contain it and then there was an absence of feeling and thought and everything but memory. It's sharp edged and tinged with grief and it's usually locked up tight in the box in my head which I reserve for such things.
It only takes a chair falling in a lobby to release the Kraken.
PTSD... the gift that keeps on giving.