Cal Flash-Write
Social Anxiety Disorder

Author's Note: Out of the various neurological disorders, and psychological disorders, and so forth that I have and will be portraying in PUTP, social anxiety disorder is the only one I have dealt with first-hand.
Although I can essentially say I've "recovered," or whatever you want to call it, this short is essentially made up of bits of my own past experiences. Writing it, in fact, was a bit of an "anxiety-provoking" experience.

Calais stared at her right ring fingernail. The cacophony surrounding her was overwhelming.

She'd never bothered with having fingernails before. But Ensign ... Ensign ... whatever his name was, had noticed. "Do Changelings have trouble with fingernails, too?" He had laughed.

"Do Changelings have trouble with fingernails, too?"

As soon as he'd turned away, she was gone. She hadn't realized it was so obvious.

The staff of the entire operations department apparently thought she needed to get out and socialize more. But these kinds of large gatherings only upset her. It felt like everyone was waiting to see what she would do, or what she wouldn't do, what she would mess up this time. Whether she had fingernails.

She could feel them around her, she could feel all of them breathing, like they were right on top of her. Every sound, overwhelmingly loud, so many voices that they blended together and she couldn't make out a word.

She felt something like what humanoids would call "sick to her stomach." The energy it took to stay in perfect form was exhausting her already. There was just too much to keep track of ... too many people watching. The fine texture of the fabric of her uniform, the individual strands of hair, the stoic expression that hid her fear ...

"Do Changelings have trouble with fingernails, too?"

She felt like the room was collapsing in on her. She slowly raised her hand to her chest where a humanoid heart would have been pounding away. It didn't help to calm her at all.

All she wanted was to get away.

She couldn't change form, there were too many people watching that would wonder why. She couldn't just get up and walk out - just the thought of walking across the room, through the crowd alone ... it terrified her.

So she sat, in the far corner of the room, with the universe slowly closing in on her, wishing it would just end.