For him, it was just a joke. 

One might say he should have known better, but we were only 14 at the time. 

For him, it was just a joke.

I found the note in the front of my mathematics book. It was written on an empty sheet of graph paper, the dark ink so aggressive against the white page. As I opened my book it fluttered lightly onto my desk. I digested the words before I could stop myself. The nausea was quick to rise to my throat, my eyes blurred, I couldn’t catch my breath – was I suffocating?

For three weeks I clicked my fingers 500 times a day. “Better safe than sorry” I told myself.  “It’s not causing me any harm”. 

Every morning I did it – slowly and deliberately so I could count each click carefully:

click, click click….

It didn’t take long really; it was no great bother. The ritual started to make me feel relieved, safe and strangely satisfied.

By the fourth week, he came and confessed. My friend, my buddy, had written the note as a silly prank! 

“What a great joke!” I told him, “of course I hadn’t taken it seriously!” I told him.

Oh how we laughed. 

That evening I told myself I could forget the note, and more importantly, I could forget the clicking. 

But that next morning, before school, I had a strange urge. My head was tight and my breathing was shallow, fast, irregular. The pressure was building and straight away I knew what would make me feel better:

click, click click….

It’s been 30 years now since I found that note. For him, it was just a joke. 

click, click click….

Written by Sam Colyer

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