I Can't Handle Tight Spaces

Her eyes scanned the shopping list over, checking to see how many items they had left: one...two...three…Good; just three things left. Once they had those they were good to go. All they had to do was go to the register and pay for them, and then they could head back to Ange's manor.

Sure, they did live there too, but they were the witch's Furniture; they had no right to call it their own—actually, she didn't have the right to say that it was her home. Her sisters could say that, but not her.

They could also call themselves Ange's friends, but she didn't. It wasn't because Ange used the anti-magic to destroy them all back when she was in high school, even though she still was scared the witch would do it again.

Well, technically that was one of her reasons, but it was also because she was a withdrawn introvert; the shy, timid, quiet type who'd always keep to herself. She'd prefer to stay away from large groups of people and be alone; all by herself in the shadows. Nobody would think to look for her there, so she felt safe and secure knowing that she was hidden away from the world.

However…

"Cleanup in aisle seven!"

A crowded supermarket filled with customers looking to purchase food, and whatever household products they needed, wasn't the best place to hide.

For one thing, the voice of an employee on the loudspeaker would make her jump each time someone said anything in it. For another, there were too many people all over the store, pushing shopping carts around while filling them with what they were going to buy. For a third thing, the lines at the registers could be really long, which meant they'd have to wait on the end while the customers ahead of them piled stuff on top of the little conveyor belt so that the employee working the register could ring up the items and put them in bags—paper or plastic.

Oh, how she hated going shopping. It was a chore she didn't want to do, especially when all of her sisters and Ange were with her too. That was eight people in the group; there shouldn't have been that many people in just one group going to a store, but she couldn't complain about that.

She was one of the seven Stakes of Purgatory, the proud Furniture to Ange Ushiromiya, the last remaining member of her family.

She had no right to complain about her own problems. She was supposed to be there to serve Ange, not hinder her with petty complaints.

If the witch was doing something, she'd give her assistance; if the witch was going out somewhere, she'd go too; if the witch wasn't doing anything at all, she'd do her work for her.

She was all work and no play; the hard working perfectionist out of all her sisters. She worked to get things done and make others slothful.

That was who she was.

That was why she represented Sloth.

That was what made her the Stake of Sloth.

That was—

"Belphegor?"

Belphegor snapped back to attention when she heard Ange say her name. "U-Um, yes?" she asked softly, her voice nearly a whisper as she spoke. "D-Do you, uh, require something of me, Miss Ange?"

The witch cocked her head to the side in confusion with a somewhat worried look on her face. "Are you okay?"

Belphegor shyly blushed and tipped her head down to the list in her hands, only making eye contact by looking up through her bangs. While she sort of did appreciate her master's concern, she was feeling a little scared at having the attention foisted onto her. "U-Um, wh-what do you mean, Milady? I-I'm fine."

"Are you sure? You're beginning to look a little pale, plus you're starting to fidget with the list just a bit."

Belphegor took that as a sign she wasn't allowed to hold the shopping list any longer. She had volunteered to do it so she wouldn't have to go into the long, thin aisles that were only wide enough for two carts to be pushed through.

They were like a death trap to her. The sides could suddenly close in on her, or she'd find herself trapped in between shopping carts with no way to escape. She could simply say "excuse me, may I get through, please," but she didn't want to disturb the other customers. She was, after all, proper Furniture.

"Really, I-I'm alright." She said as she held the list out to Ange with a trembling hand. "You don't have to worry about me, Miss Ange."

The witch looked at the list for a moment before taking it. "Alright, if you say you're fine, I'll trust you. But if there's anything wrong, you can talk to me about it, okay?"

Unsure if that was a good thing, or a bad thing, Belphegor just nodded timidly.

"Anyway," Ange continued, "can you help us find the right brand of tomato sauce? Asmodeus and I are trying to find the kind imported directly from Italy."

Ah, her master needed her to do something. Maybe she could take her mind off the store by letting the witch idle about while she searched for the tomato sauce.

Unfortunately, the aisle was scary. It was so long, and so thin, with a few carts in between the stands on either side. But even so, she didn't want to disobey her master.

"U-Um, as you wish, Miss Ange." Belphegor gave a shy bow before heading into the aisle.

She walked over to the middle of the aisle, where her youngest sister, Asmodeus, was and looked up at the top shelf, but the tomato sauce wasn't there.

She tried the next shelf, but still no tomato sauce.

Then the middle shelf.

Then the shelf underneath it.

Then—ah, there it was. She found the glass jars containing the right kind of tomato sauce on the bottom shelf.

Bending over so she could take a couple medium sized jars, she stood up straight and turned to put them in the cart Ange and Asmodeus were using…

But found that she was surrounded by the carts her other five sisters were using.

Instantly she started to panic, feeling as if she couldn't breathe. Her whole body began to tremble uncontrollably just as her breath got caught in her throat, while her complexion went from slightly pale to completely ashen. She could feel her heartbeat spike inside her chest just as she got chills and began sweating.

As she fell to her knees, the aisle started spinning around her just as the racks and the carts closed in on her. Her grip on the jars slackened, but they didn't shatter when they hit the floor because of how close they were to it.

There was nobody around to see that she needed to get out from that tiny little space.

There wasn't a soul there to move the carts away so she could leave the aisle and get out of the store.

She was going to suffocate!

She was going to die!

Falling on her side, Belphegor found herself entering the fetal position without realizing it; just as she didn't know she had begun to cry, or whimper.

So this was how it was going to end for her—dying of fright while lying in the fetal position on the floor, in an aisle in a supermarket.

She would've cried out for one of her sisters, or Ange, but was unable to, due to her predicament; however…

"Belphegor! Belphegor, are you alright?" She could hear Ange calling her, but she couldn't see her master anywhere. Her tears had blurred her vision, so she was partially blind to her surroundings, despite being slightly aware that the witch was helping her to her feet.

"Belphegor! Answer me! Say something!" Ange continued to call out as she gently shook the Stake of Sloth to snap her out of the frightful state she had entered.

"What's wrong with Belphe, Ange?" Asmodeus looked a little afraid, fearing that her older sister was having some sort of nervous breakdown. "Is she okay?"

"I don't know to be honest," Ange replied with concern as Belphegor's breath started coming out in ragged bursts, "but I think she's having a sudden panic attack."

"Is that…" Lucifer started to speak, but hesitated to continue. It was unlike her to show fear since she was the leader of the Stakes, but by being worried for her younger sister, she proved how good she was at being the oldest sister. Managing to clear her throat, she was able to finish her question. "Is that bad?"

"Very bad." Ange responded as she started to lead Belphegor out of the aisle. "It's an intense experience that's quite frightening and upsetting, as well as uncomfortable."

"Is there anything that we could do to help her?" Beelzebub inquired while Mammon giggled.

"Help her?" The Stake of Greed laughed while pointing her finger at Belphegor. "Just look at her! She looks like a nervous wreck! I bet she'll attract attention from everyone in the—"

Even though Belphegor was seriously disorientated, it was fortunate for her that Ange had grabbed Mammon by the collar of her jacket.

"Listen, Mammon," she growled viciously, "how'd you like it if we didn't care about you when you had a panic attack?"

The Stake of Greed looked a little afraid when her best friend had said such a thing. "N-No, I—" But she wasn't allowed to finish because Ange cut her off.

"Then I suggest you shut the hell up now. All you're doing is making it worse, as you always do. You're the same as those other girls back at St. Lucia's, and I'm this close," Ange took two fingers and brought them so close that a paper wouldn't be able to fit through the gap between them, "to calling our friendship off. Do you understand?"

Mammon shuddered and nodded while saluting the witch. "Y-Yes, of course, Ange! Whatever you say!"

Once Ange released her by shoving her back, she took Belphegor from Lucifer and went to the end of the aisle.

"Ange, where are you taking Belphe?" Leviathan asked as they passed her and Satan.

"I'm taking her outside to get some fresh air. Hopefully she'll feel a little bit better when she has more space." Taking her wallet out of a pocket inside her jacket, the witch handed it to the Stake of Envy. "Tell the others to bring the stuff to the register and pay for it, okay?"

"Alright." Satan replied while going off to tell her other four sisters.

A small smile appeared on Ange's face as she turned her head to look at them. She was glad to have friends who cared about her and would do things together with her.

Turning away, she brought Belphegor's pale, shivering form over to the front of the store, coming up to one of the employees at the register. A couple other customers, gave the poor Stake worried looks, but they didn't do anything to help since they saw that Ange was handling the problem.

"Excuse me," the witch casually asked, "may I just take a paper bag, please?"

The employee wasn't facing her, as he was busy with something else, but he could still hear her. "Sure, just pull it out."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome."

With the paper bag in hand, Ange walked out the entrance and brought Belphegor over to a bench up against the wall of the supermarket. Sitting the Stake of Sloth down, she sat next to her while bringing the bag closer to her friend's mouth. "Here, breathe into this. You'll start to feel a little better when you do."

Accepting the bag, Belphegor held it over her mouth and did as she was told. It took a few minutes, but soon she recovered just a bit. She still looked pale and was still trembling.

Ange put her hand on Belphegor's shoulder. "Are you okay?" She inquired with a worried look on her face. "Did something happen?"

Although she was gracious that Ange cared about her, the Stake of Sloth didn't know how to show it. However, she didn't want to worry Ange with her fear of tight spaces.

"N-No, nothing happened; I-I'm fine." She responded while handing the bag back to the witch.

Ange narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms. "Then explain why you were lying on the floor in the fetal position." She spoke harshly, but when Belphegor blushed shyly and looked down at her lap, she let up and made no more insensitive comments.

"Alright, I'm sorry for saying that, but I need to know what's wrong so I can help you."

Belphegor looked up at her master from underneath her bangs. "I-Its okay; I-I can handle it myself. You don't have to worry about me, Miss Ange."

"But you're my friend. I don't want for anything to happen to you."

Noticing that her friend looked away from her without responding, Ange became a tad more concerned. Belphegor still seemed to have trouble forgiving her for using the anti-magic on her and her sisters back at St. Lucia's. The poor Stake must've been so scared to be around her.

Ange had to do something to make her feel comfortable. She needed to show her that she was a better person now, and prove that she could be trusted.

"Its okay, Belphegor." She continued while smiling warmly at the Stake of Sloth, "You can tell me if something's bothering you. I promise to do whatever I can to make it better. If you want me to keep it a secret, I will."

Belphegor remained unconvinced as she looked at her master again.

"You…d-do?" She asked after swallowing a lump in her throat.

"Of course; that's what friends are for."

Belphegor looked away again and took a deep breath.

If Ange wanted to listen to her, then she had to do as she was told.

The witch didn't see her as Furniture, but as a friend; however, Belphegor was uncomfortable with that. She just wasn't used to being cared about by others; it was an alien feeling to her. But for some odd reason, she felt that maybe the witch meant what she said.

Taking another deep breath, she hesitated just a little before she spoke. Her voice came out as a whisper, but she made sure that Ange could hear her.

"U-Um, o-okay…" she began, then paused for a couple seconds before continuing. "U-Um, I-I'm just, u-uh, extremely c-c-claustrophobic, that's all."

"So you're scared of enclosed spaces?" Ange inquired while Belphegor closed her eyes.

"I-I get really terrified when I-I'm confined in tight spaces, s-so when I-I get trapped, I-I lose it and freak out."

"Then do you want to stay home whenever we go out to places like this?"

That solution was perfect for Belphegor, except for the fact that she had to stay at Ange's side and protect her. It wasn't supposed to be the other way around.

"I-I would appreciate that, yes, b-but I-I need to go with you. I-It's my duty as your Furniture."

Ange took Belphegor's hands in her own and frowned. "No, Belphegor. You're not my Furniture; I said that you're my friend. I appreciate your concern, but I don't want you to do anything that places you in the center of these kinds of situations."

Belphegor looked away and blushed shyly, finding it uncomfortably awkward that Ange was holding her hands in such a way. "B-But you shouldn't have to worry about me! I-I don't want to trouble you by being a burden! I-I—" She began to speak really fast, like she always did whenever she had a conversation with someone; it was pretty much why she rarely said anything. Since nobody ever understood her when she talked that fast, she could tell that they just wanted her to shut up.

Ange raised her hands up to Belphegor's cheeks and stroked them gently. "Belphegor, slow down. Take it easy, or you'll have another panic attack."

The Stake of Sloth took that as her cue to shut up.

"Take a deep breath." The witch then instructed, watching as her friend inhaled deeply before exhaling. "Yes, that's it…deep breaths."

Belphegor continued to breathe deeply for a couple minutes just as Ange began patting her back softly. Eventually she felt fine, even though she was still anxious.

"Do you feel better now?" The Witch asked with a warm smile on her face.

"U-Um, a little." Belphegor replied shyly while bowing her head in gratitude. "U-Um, th-thank you?

"You're welcome." Ange placed her hand on the Stake's shoulder.

"Ange!"

The witch turned her head when she heard Lucifer call her name. "Oh, Lucifer, are you all done paying for everything?"

"Yes!" The Stake of Pride replied while her sisters began pushing the carts into the parking lot. "Amakusa's here to pick us up! It's time to head home!"

Ange breathed a sigh of relief, grateful that they didn't have to wait for that slacker to show up late. Sometimes he was a few minutes late because of traffic, while other times he would be around a quarter of an hour late due to playing some game over at the nearby arcade—which caused the cold stuff to melt a little from the heat, so Ange had to go back inside to ask if they could put all the cold stuff in a freezer so it could stay frozen—but there were times when he was either early, or right on time.

Turning back to Belphegor, she stood up and looked down at the Stake of Sloth while offering her hand. "Shall we go?" She asked as she smiled.

Belphegor accepted her hand and got up too.

As they both followed the other Stakes back to the car, Ange turned her head to Belphegor. "Oh, Belphegor."

The Stake of Sloth turned to look at her. "Yes, Miss Ange?"

"I'd like for you to rest for a few days so you could recover from your panic attack, okay?"

Even though it didn't seem like she had any choice in the matter, Belphegor could tell that wasn't an order. She knew that Ange was giving her a break from all the pressure she was always under.

While taking a few days off was unlike her, it didn't seem like a bad idea at all.

"Of course, Miss Ange; thank you."

Maybe she would take things easy from now on.

Alright, alright, I know I had said that you wouldn't see one-shots from me anymore, but I've thought of some ideas for a collection of one-shots that I could work on when I find the time to. However, due to my other chapter stories, you probably won't see updates to this collection for any given length of time.

I've got an Umineko story to get back to, so I'm hoping to get to it soon after I finish some important things offline. There's also my Umineko-Amnesia: The Dark Descent series, which shall be combined into one big story, but I'd like to focus on that after I get another Umineko-Amnesia: The Dark Descent crossover story finished—hopefully before January, as it's going to be a short story; maybe a one-shot, or a short chapter story.

But anyway, while I was reading 'Being Dysfunctional Has Never Been So Much Fun' by Renahh Chen (a great collection of one-shots I recommend reading), I had become inspired to make a one-shot collection of my own, so I'm going to try my hand at it and see how good it gets.

As I said above, I thought of some ideas to write about, but I may also take suggestions from others to see what they want. However, I came up with the following rules for suggestions:

People are limited up to a total of two suggestions. This isn't because I don't want any more suggestions than two, but because updates may be slow (also said above); and also because I probably won't get around to making another one-shot for the collection until some other time when I'm not working on other stories, or when I'm not too busy with other things.

Suggestions are to be appropriate. I will not accept ones that involve anything rated M, anything sexual, anything racist, and/or anything sexist. This collection is supposed to be a fun project I can do when I don't really have anything to do, or whenever I need time to think of how my other stories need to go. So please keep them appropriate.

As to when suggestions start appearing, I'm currently not sure if I'll work/upload them in between my own ideas, or after I finish with all the ideas I currently have. If you don't see a one-shot that you suggested right away, please be patient. I do my best when working on my stories, but I can't work on too many ideas at once, for I feel that would lead me to writer's block. However, if you want to read something else while you're waiting, feel free to visit my profile page and check out the stories I have already made. I haven't written too many stories, but they might be able to tide you over while you wait. Also, while you're visiting my profile page, be sure to read the news I have up there; while I don't update it daily, I still put something up or change something from time to time.

I'm aiming to have this collection focus on a specific character pairing for Umineko: Belphegor and Ange. I won't accept suggestions for other character pairings, but I can point you to Renahh Chen; she takes requests for stories and one-shots for her own collection, 'Being Dysfunctional Has Never Been So Much Fun', so if you have any of those suggestions, go to her. I'll only accept Belphegor/Ange ones involving what Belphegor can't do, or what she can't get. Some examples are her not being able to understand something, being unable to do something, and/or being unable to handle something. The whole basic point of this collection is for her to feel and be helpless, and for Ange to help her. So please only make suggestions that involve that.

And that's about it for now. If I have anything else to say, I'll say so in the author's notes of a future one-shot in this collection.

I hope you enjoy reading it as I enjoy writing it.

Disclaimer: I don't own Umineko; it's owned by 007 Expansion.