Survivors Ants are walking on my kitchen tiles, up and down, without a stop. I would like to kill them but I cannot. It is certain: I am unable to hurt any living being. As I approach the sink, I see them. There, moving, carelessly, as if they owned the whole world. Whenever, I am washing a fruit, the dishes, the glasses, I am pouring water to make them scared –in vain. I am trying to imagine how I might look to their eyes: huge, 1 m 90 height, heavy, over the past years I have been gaining weight, it won’t be long before I reach 100 kilos. It is not difficult to deduce, that I am not a typical human specimen, nevertheless this does not prevent me from thinking that to an ant all humans are giants, another species, among which they move boldly and manage to survive. I am walking from the kitchen to the bedroom, back and forth, stopping at times in the bathroom. Μy movements inside the house are limited. As for going out, it is out of the question. I dread reliving it. Chest pain, sweat all over my body and a sound, my heartbeat turning into something deafening. While it used to be quiet, almost built in, inside my body, in a way that I never knew it was there, now all of a sudden it became more and more vivid, attacking the acoustic nerve. The first day I dealt with it calmly. I executed meticulously the daily tasks at the bank and returned home. Inside the apartment the symptoms began to faint away. In the evening, before going to bed, I was almost convinced that I was done with it. It would not have been the first time. We have been living together since my childhood. In my finals I was that close to dropping out from the exams. My parents dragged me to school, just before I get locked in my room. All that hard work and late hours should not be wasted. Just thinking about it, twenty years later, I honestly wish they had been wasted, I would have spared myself from the stain of excellence. I graduated from Law school quite painlessly. Working hard, staying in, consuming mild sedatives though. My cousin, ten years older than me, an obstetrician, served as the perfect provider, she was also taking them in order to cope with the hospital stress and the menace of the unstoppable upcoming births. With the help of half a pill and two strong coffees I was able to go through tomes of studies’ material with apparently no great effort. Piece of cake. The actual working reality was another story. I got the job in the bank, after marking a high score in demanding examinations- all due to my usual blind method of continuous studying and to my brain capacities, which at that time was still running a constant sprint. Then came the training, devotion and a never ending stress. To my surprise and despite any personal intention, I made it to the top. I failed to make any friends in there. They disapproved of the fact that I despised smoking, failed to join their jokes, and kept a solemn face, never letting them have a clue of what was really going in my mind. For years I managed to cope with the pressure at work. Thanks to the sedatives, the control of the breath, the counting to ten and the exercises or relaxation….Finally I thought that I have beaten it. I had stopped sweating all of a sudden, I didn’t lose my breath while talking, my hands kept steady, my pulse was normal. With no obvious reason that morning I knew that nothing had really changed. It was alive inside me, hidden, sedated maybe, and suddenly it was wide awake again. Α triggering event was enough to get it started. The news announced to me by the board of directors, a decision I knew nothing about. “Congratulations, you are now the manager of our branch in………………….. Congratulations!” “Since when?’ “As soon as possible. By next week at the latest you should be at your new position”. It didn’t take more than a minute for the sweat to immerse my body; soon it would be evident on my clothes. There was no way out. The heart followed afterwards. The pounding was so strong that made my ears hurt. Ι pretended to be sick and got home with a taxi. Unable to react to a change I didn’t desire and to the responsibilities I despised, I was caught off guard and there it was taking hold of me again. Days passed by and it didn’t get better. I had informed them that Ι was suffering flu, but for how long I could go on with that story? I knew there was no turning back when I tried to leave the house in order to gather some supplies. The same symptoms once again along with a sense of dizziness and the difficulty to breathe. I got home keeping the head bent and dragging my feet. It was only when I had closed and locked the door behind me that I started feeling a bit better. I know that it was waiting for me. A lifetime. Ι had let it asleep. I had made the mistake to ignore it and there it was on the attack. I could blame the fact that I was approaching middle age, a crucial period of human life no doubt, or my living alone for so long, like a machine. And now my engine was rusty, and everything that was suppressed inside me had awakened.