Chapter 20

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Tiana POV
As soon as Amanda walks in after saying goodbye to Tyson, she announces, very boldly, "We're going shopping today!"

Needless to say, I'm not very happy.

I've always been scared of crowds. It isn't that their opinions affect me all that much. It's just that crowds are a threat. All sorts of different types of people pooled together in one place. All those people with so many different mindsets. Different thoughts. Different reactions. Different emotions.

It's scares me, the thought that, out of all those people, anyone could do anything to me. Could hurt me. Could touch me. Could see me.

Could be like my father.

I hate it. The thought that they're all out there, free to do as they please. It scares me so much. I don't want to go. I don't want to go without someone safe with me.

"Are you alright?" someone asks, breaking my chain of thought. I look up to see Xavier staring at me, looking mildly concerned. I wonder for how long he's been in the house without my notice.

"I'm not going," I state flatly, my voice devoid of emotion.

"Yes, you are," Amanda says, coming in from the kitchen into the living room, which is the room where I seem to be in. I don't remember much of how I got here.

"No, I'm not. Please," I say, trying to quell the panic that's seems to be fighting its way to my head.

"Why not," Xavier says gently, then glares at Amanda, who looks ashamed.

"Not safe," I mumble softly, hating how soft my voice is. Soft and pliant and changeable.

Amanda sighs. "No place is really safe, but are you really going to let fear rule your life?"

"I can try," I mumble stubbornly.

"But do you want to?" Xavier asks, an eyebrow raised.

I sigh. "Not really. But... at the same time... change, you know? It's a scary thing, change."

"But a necessary thing," Xavier says, grinning.

I sigh, again, but this time, unfortunately, in defeat. "I suppose so."

Amanda squeals then and I slowly look around wondering if a lone mouse has heard this and thought it has finally found its kind. I wouldn't be very surprised if that happened, considering the high frequency of her squeal. I don't even think my vocal cords are able to do that.

"Yes!" she exclaims, doing some sort of victory dance that doesn't comfort me in the slightest. "Shopping!!"

"Yes!" Xavier exclaims too, mimicking Amanda's voice and dance. "Food!!"

I just stand there motionless, trying to avoid images of the worst possible things that could happen to me at such a crowded place. The images that follow aren't ones that I ever want to associate myself with, but Xavier and Amanda are right, I'll never live as long as it's fear who's my companion. Until then, I'm just following a toxic feeling that has never meant me well. Living, after all, is surpassing fear.

But fear is a beautiful seducer as captivating as misery and as entrancing as anger. Misery has always been beautiful in her own twisted way while anger has always had the ability to hypnotise you into his will. And the ability to seduce and hypnotise has always been the most dangerous.

In the end, aren't we all just slaves to our seducers?

"You alright in there?" I hear Amanda ask, poking my head slowly. I blink, trying the get out of my head.

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