Amy squeezed Mary’s hand. “I should have realized we had stayed too long.”
The smelling salts waved under her nose by saleswoman along with the contrition in Amy’s voice jolted Mary back to consciousness. Another saleswoman handed her a glass of water, which relieved the parchness in her throat. Mary realized she was resting on a couch in the dressing room area, surrounded by concerned faces.
Mary breathed in a controlled breath, then exhaled slowly. “It’s not your fault. I thought I was getting better. In January, my therapist said I didn’t need to come in on a regular basis, only when I needed to.” She gave a wry smile. “And since I’ve met David, I haven’t felt like I needed to.”
“What happened this time?” Amy brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes, still wearing the wedding dress.
“The packed aisles didn’t help. Then I started thinking about my parents.” She shrugged. “Never a good subject for me.” She sat up on the couch. “I think some fresh air will put me to rights.”
“Of course. Let me change and we’ll stroll in that park across the street.” Amy hustled off to the dressing room, a saleswoman on her heels.
Mary glanced at the sales staff still hovering around the couch. “Thank you for your help. I’ll be okay now.”
She closed her eyes as she waited for Amy to change into her street clothes.
Mary opened her eyes and stood.
Amy linked her arm through Mary’s, turning to the saleswoman who held the poofy garment. “Can you hold the dress for me?” She gave her contact information to the woman and the two friends left the warehouse.
Once outside in the warm sunshine, some of the tension drained out of her shoulders.
“You can postpone the wedding. David will understand.”
Mary kicked at an acorn on the ground. “I haven’t told him about my attacks.”
“Oh.” Amy studied her friend. “Why not? Don’t you think being in a foreign country might trigger an attack?”
“In the beginning, I didn’t want him to feel sorry for me. Then, it seemed less important. I’ve been working on getting out more on my own. I even rode the bus downtown a few times by myself. No panic attacks at all.”
“But then something like this happens, and I’m back to square one. I don’t even know how to start. I mean, I can’t just say, ‘By the way, I suffer from severe panic attacks, especially in crowds or unfamiliar buildings. In fact, the only place I feel perfectly safe is in my home.’” She tried to laugh. “I don’t think he’ll want to take me to Peru after that.”
Amy put her hand on Mary’s. “You know you have to tell him. He has a right to know.”
Mary swiped a tear from her cheek. “I agree. It’s just that, he’s the only man who’s ever even shown any interest in me, much less fallen in love with me. What if I tell him and he doesn’t want to marry me? What if this is my last chance at some kind of happiness?”
“Oh, Mare.” Amy patted her hand. “You know that if he is the one God has for you, David will understand about your not telling him sooner. And if not, you’ll find someone else. You’ll see.”
Mary bit her lip. Amy, with her wonderful Calvin, had no idea how hard it had been to find this one man to love her. If David got away, Mary had a terrifying vision that her future would be even bleaker than the one she faced when she came to live with Geraldine.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Phantom Love is copyrighted and cannot be used in any form without permission from Sarah Hamaker.