U is for Uniform

Feeling Cynthia claw at his arm, Jax looked down and saw his girlfriend’s eyes draw into pinpoints. “Shit.” His head swiveled as he searched the semi-crowded vendor room. They were about as far from the door as they could be, against a back corner. She was already struggling to breathe. There was no way to make it out in time.

“Door,” he barked at the vendor where they had been admiring the dragon leather and fairy gossamer wings. Napoleon’s head snapped up. “What?”

“Where the fuck is the nearest door?” Jax hissed, pulling Cynthia against him as her body started shaking.

The vendor waved towards the entrance to the large conference hall.

“No, she is having a panic attack. We don’t have time.”

“Over here.” The vendor next to Napoleon’s Wings waved them over, moving the corsets lining the wall to show a small door used by the hotel help during more traditional conferences. She opened the door, and Jax quickly moved Cynthia through, half carrying her as her fight-or-flight kicked in.

“I got you. I got you,” he repeated until he could put her down in the empty service hallway. “I’m between you and people. I got you. You’re safe. I got you.” She pummeled him several times on the chest and face ineffectually with fists and open hands, and he took a few scratches, but eventually Cynthia backed against the wall and slide down when her hyperventilating made her dizzy. Tears streamed down her face.

Jax leaned against the bare gray wall and slid down on the concrete floor beside her. “I got you. I’m sorry. Everything is okay. You’re safe. I got you. I’m between you and people. No one can see you. I got you.” He kept repeating, his voice going hoarse while he waited for her to calm down. When she reached the point he could safely touch her, he pulled the small woman into his lap and started petting her hair and back while speaking nonsense words of comfort.

At some point, one of the hotel staff came down the hall, and Jax shook his head at her. She backed away, but another person came soon thereafter. A convention security volunteer, a yellow banner attached to his badge, with one of the hired uniform guards. They stopped about ten feet away, then, after a short whispered conversation, the staffer continued forward. Cynthia was down to sobs and hiccups, but Jax still rotated her so his shoulder and body were between her and the newcomers.

The con staffer stopped two arms length away and crouched down to sit on his heels. “Is everything okay?” he asked softly.

“Noooo.” Cynthia wailed softly into Jax shoulders.

He petted her electric violet hair. “It’s okay. He can’t see you.” Jax stage-whispered looking at the staffer, Basketcase according to his badge. “Everything is okay. Just …” Jax words went away, because he knew Cynthia was aware enough to remember this and the embarrassment would be devastating if she thought people knew about her problem. She would never go out in public again. There were several restaurants where she insisted they could never go back because she had lost it in them early in their dating until he figured out most of her triggers.

“Sir, can you tell me the problem?” The staffer’s voice took a firmer, more official tone, although he made no move toward them. His face arranged in guarded concern like a puzzle, one piece at a time as the man tried to figure what he needed to do.

“She is okay. Just got a little overcome in the crowd.”

Basketcase nodded. “She is not hurt? No one did anything inappropriate?”

“No, sir.”

“Social anxiety?” The security man asked, the voice and face shifting yet again.

The question was close enough to reality Jax relaxed, still petting Cynthia as she tried to burrow deep into him in her embarrassment. “Yeah. We thought Friday wouldn’t be bad.”

“Do you need medical attention?”

He probably could use some Band-Aids, but he wasn’t going to ask for them in front of Cynthia. “No, sir.”

The con security guy half turned, bringing one knee down to look behind him at the guard. “It’s okay, Will. Thanks for the backup.”

“You sure?” The black uniform asked, his hand never far from his belt of many things, including a taser.

“Yeah. I got this.”

After the uniformed security guard disappeared down the hallway, the con worker turned back around, then sat on the floor Indian style. “Hi there, I’m Reese, but around here most people call me Basketcase because of the amount of things I volunteer for.”


“Yeah, I’ve seen you around on the circuit. You’re into anime, like that cutie there.” Reese hunched lower as Cynthia peeked over Jax’s shoulder. Through his hand, Jax felt tension begin to leave Cynthia’s spine. “Did you like the schedule layout? I put that together.”

“It made more sense than most, and integrates well with the online app.” Jax responded to the surreal talk.

Really, what the hell? Casual conversation in the service hallway? Jax felt an itch on his face and lifted his hand wiping the area, finding it wet and sticky. Pulling his hand away, he found red smeared on his fingers. Cindy got him good with a swipe.

“We picked up a couple new Freshman from the college who figured out the app. Between the three of us, we fixed things up good.”

“That’s nice.” Jax really didn’t know where this was going, but when Cynthia pushed gently against his chest he lost what little interest he had discussion.


A to Z Short Story List Breakdown

Rainbow Spectrum (A to F)
Marathon Party (G to M)
Trigger: Cutting (N to Q)
Bookstore Sort (R to T)

Panic at the Convention (U to Z)
4/24/2019 – U is for Uniform
4/25/2019 – V is for Volunteer
4/26/2019 – W is for Weasels
4/27/2019 – X is for Xander
4/28/2019 – Y is for Yuengling
4/29/2019 – Z is for Zillion

4 thoughts to “U is for Uniform”

  1. That’s too bad that she doesn’t feel like she can go back to those places. Most of the time, people are oblivious to such things and wouldn’t remember her. Those that would would probably be sympathetic. Embarrassment is such a terrible thing to keep people away.

    1. True, and yet it does for people all the time. Especially for people prone to panic attacks. It slowly shrinks their world to nothing. One of the reasons Cynthia loves Jax is he expands her world.

  2. You are tackling some tough topics in your writing this month!

    I’ve experienced panic attacks. My triggers are not crowd-related (though I’m not a fan of throngs of people for other reasons), and I’m glad for that. The fight-or-flight response is REAL, and the adrenaline means a mixture of super-sharp and blurred/obscured memory when it happens. If I had confused recollection of an attack that I knew crowd members had witnessed… Yeah, that would be a HUGE stressor!

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