Everywhere I go these days, buttons open. Not in the sexual sense, not unless you see blossom as an erotic metaphor.

            No. When I set out on the street day and night I see buttons like flowers. At first there was a rational explanation for this: a craft stall with a pink woolly cardigan smelling vaguely of summer with fancy buttons like red, red roses. These were static: shaped like buds at the top then slowly opening up the further down the cardigan you looked. A neat appearance though trippy and certainly not one I was willing to pay money for. I just looked down at my plain black shoes and shuffled on.

            Then I saw the image again, this time on a glamorous green suede coat I glimpsed on the bus ride home. The woman wearing it was of course effortlessly beautiful with a perfect pout pointed towards the window. She caught me staring so I looked away. When I turned back I realised that her buttons did not in fact resemble dahlias as I had previously thought. Dahlias weren’t brass semicircles. I told myself I was just being giddy, that I needed to get indoors where I could shut my eyes and focus on my breathing.

            This did work for a little while. Then I had to go out for milk. At the corner shop there was Mr Sokhal in his usual blue shirt, rolling up his sleeves before stacking some heavy cardboard boxes. Normally the buttons on his shirt were plastic and barely noticeable but today they were vivid violets blowing in some mysterious wind. So I walked out then and there. I breathed deeply. I counted to one hundred.

            When I opened my eyes, I immediately regretted it. A mother and daughter passed me on my left, their toggle buttons turned to petunias on their matching yellow raincoats. It made no sense. I ran all the way home.

            Of course I couldn’t look at my coat rack anymore, was too frightened of what I might find in my bedroom wardrobe. So instead I collapsed on the cold tile floor of the kitchen and wept.

            Then Richard rang. Good old Richard. I always tell him the truth because I know I can trust him, no matter how mad I may sound.

            He came round right away in a zipper jacket. I couldn’t thank him enough for that. Then Richard put me in his car and drove me here.

            Can I see him now? I think he can explain all this better to you, he knows my medical history.

            Yes, I would like him here with me please. Right away. I’m not comfortable with being in this small windowless room. You may smile but your white coat concerns me. Your lily-shaped buttons have started to wilt.

Buttons Like Flowers is a piece from Sara’s Workshop on Mental Health Writing 26-02-2020.

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