Short Story: Permission to Angst

Genre: general, angst


On the TV screen, the main character sat in the corner of his room, not even bothering to turn on the lights so he could brood in darkness.

“He needs to stop angsting and just get over it,” her friend said.

She looked down to her friend’s clenched fists on the hospital bed, next to the stumps that used to be his legs.

“Are you saying that to him, or yourself?” she asked.

Her friend looked away, shoulders quivering. Shame rose in her.

“I’m sorry. It’s too early,” she said.

“I’m sorry it happened at all,” he said, voice thick.

On TV, the scene shifted to a light-hearted baking session in a home kitchen.

“It’s ok to ‘angst’. You have the right to react to what has happened to you,” she said.

“No one likes a downer,” he said, still looking away.

“No one likes a bomb either, and that’s what you’ll become if you don’t let yourself grieve.” Her hands tightened into a fist against her thighs. “It’s not fair that you lost your legs saving someone else. Get angry, get upset, complain, cry, just let it out. Give yourself permission to angst.”

Her friend shuddered and he pressed his fists to his mouth to muffle his sobs. Tears prickled at the corner of her eyes as her heart broke for him.

She spoke through the lump in her throat. “Pour yourself out until there’s nothing left to pour out, then you start putting yourself back together again.”

What happened to him wasn’t fair, but this was his new reality, and he needed this space to face his own feelings head on before he could move forward.

The TV continued to play, its content long forgotten as they grieved for what they had lost.


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