Her priest said it was due to her mother’s sin. That was clear to everyone — certainly to the others in their tenement.
There was an ache in her heart that would build to a roar, until she was immobile with it, unable to move, to think, to speak. The roar would fog her mind, a noise and pressure behind her eyes, and her body would seize, and shake, and shake.
Where there were people, her terror followed. And the city was nothing but people. It made her body heave, and her stomach churn. The walls would swell around her, and people grew taller, darker, filled all the space, took all the air. Their voices boomed, boomed, boomed, until she was crushed with the sound of it.
Oh my goodness, my heart.