Discomfort more than just cold when deceptive coercion gets personal

Sarah Al Balushi. Photo: Supplied.
Sarah Al Balushi. Photo: Supplied.
SARAH AL-BALUSHI Year 12, Kavanagh College

His arm, tucked against my back, guides me towards the revolving doors.

His grasp comes across as kind but it digs into me a little more than I would like.

A thick snowflake floats down to the pavement, melting into sludge on impact, as if it were trying to remind me how cold I am.

The doors swing back as someone exits, thrusting a wave of searing air into my bitterly cold face.

It stings, my skin melting like snow under a hot coal.

His other arm extends, contacting the glass, his fingertips leaving blemishes on the clear surface.

I tentatively step inside, hurried along by his ever present arm. The mugginess of the room is sucked into my lungs and the sheer number of people makes my brain fizz.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been in a place like this.

Despite my internal panic, he walks me up to the counter.

A well dressed woman smiles at me, her hair neatly pulled back in a bun and her eye-liner perfectly symmetrical.

She is perfect, other than the streak of red that has leaked on to her teeth.

She makes me quiver.

Instead, I weakly glance up at him, his olive green eyes have a friendly glaze, but there is something buried behind them.

"Go on," he ushers gently, his arm pressing into my back with an even sharper edge.

My gaze shifts back towards the woman.

"Hi there, I would like to withdraw some money from my account," I utter, desperately trying to control my tone and purposefully avoiding her piercing blue eyes.

"Sure thing. What’s your name and address? I’ll look up your account," she says with a professional voice that she has clearly perfected over many years.

I feel his eyes rest upon me, but I make sure not to look back.

"My name is Ella Richardson, my address is 142b Carlston Rd," I state, in a more confident tone this time. I’d practised this one.

The woman taps away at her keyboard, the red light from her screen beaming back on her face.

"All right, so I’ve found your account. Your balance is $15,456 — quite a lot for someone as young as you!" she jokes, an even larger smile spreading across her face.

"She works pretty hard," he laughs back, his chuckle catching me off guard.

"There is one small issue, however," she continues.

"As you’re under the age of 18, you need a guardian like your dad here, registered in order to take money out of this account, as it is locked.

"So sir, would you just follow me around to the side where we can fill out some forms?" she questions, still in a cheerful tone.

Now he seems caught off guard, his arm becomes unstuck from my back.

This drains the pressure away, but it quickly builds back up.

The cold, sharp feeling still lingers.

As he turns to walk with her, the women says politely, "This shouldn’t take long. Just wait here for a moment."

His eyes are still locked on me, and this time, what was buried comes forward to affirm her message.

I quickly flick my gaze away so he is out of view. I turn my attention to something else.

The pens on tiny chains in banks have always been strange to me. Why would a bank be afraid of someone stealing their pens?

As I twirl the metal around my fingers, something clicks.

Now is my chance, I’ll tell this woman how I feel.

I snatch a small piece of paper out of the holder and press the pen to the smooth surface.

The weather is very cold, I don’t like tHe winter because it is cold. i don’t like cold fEelings because they make me uncomfortabLe.

how do they make you feel? this winter my family are just like imPosters, they are Not friendly and they are almOst noT the saMe people, not mY family.

has your family ever maDe you feel As colD?

have you ever been taken away in the winter?


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