I think I'm acting normal. I walk around. I drink my coffee. I make brief chitchat with my coworkers, regarding something I read on Slashdot. I can't possibly be that transparent. I've had a full life of hiding behind my masks to practice up to this point. How can I have been practicing this for so many days out of the month, since I was thirteen, and they can still spot it? Inevitably, someone will ask:

Are you okay?

I respond with my mantra: "I'm just tired." It was a long night. I had a little too much to drink.

Those are my stories. My excuses. They haven't failed my yet. I can say it with conviction (unlike most else in my life). They're usually true, and they cleverly allow me to brush off the question without lying, and saying "yes."

Why do they have to ask me? Do they really even care? Do they understand what that question does to me? How it makes me feel? I just want to cry.

Are you okay?
Yeah, I'm fine.
You don't sound okay.
I know.
I'm not really okay, in fact I'm feeling damn close to crying. The thing is, I don't know why, and I know all too well, and there's no reason to cry, only more reasons than I can count. It's nothing new, but the weight of the situation just hit me again, and I wanted to talk to someone, I wanted to hear a voice, so I called you.
I'll be fine.
Are you sure?
Yes.
No, I'm not sure, I don't know anything anymore, that's why I called you. I thought you'd have an answer to the unspoken questions, I thought you might be able to hear the tears hovering at the edge of my voice, thought you might be able to stem the sudden flow of panic trembling in my hands.
So, I'll speak to you?
Yep.
See you.
See you.

It's what they say here in Ireland instead of "can I help you?". The number of times I confusedly answered "yes, I'm fine, thanks" and was left standing at the bar waiting to be approached by the next staff member is beyond counting.

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