Laurel always wanted to be treated special. She needed some attention; and she wanted a reason for people to talk about her.
On the radio one morning, while she was driving to work, Laurel heard a report about nut allergies, “people need to be careful around other people with nut allergies.” Some people had it so severe, the reporter said, that they died.
So, that day, Laurel started telling everyone – little by little, bit by bit, story by story – that she had nut allergies. And, people listened. This was great, she thought, people cared.
Co-workers put up signs in the break room to remind others about Laurel’s special needs. To prep for afterwork gatherings, emails were sent out to highlighting the special care that needed to be taken while preparing food and drink for Laurel, “well, for everyone; but especially for Laurel.” As a way of showing protection, friends would bring her copies of magazine articles, “look, all these airlines were switching from peanuts to pretzels.”
People were going out of there way to respect her wishes; to keep her in their minds; t o protect her.
But, after awhile, that wasn’t really enough. Laurel felt like she was cheating and deceiving. She felt bad. And she, of course, felt like she couldn’t tell anyone – they’d all call here a liar.
So, Laurel thought, to validate everyone’s concern, the only thing to do was to truly make herself allergic to nuts. She would eat a handful of cashews then make herself vomit. Again and again. She would sit beside someone eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and hold her breath until she passed out. To simulate allergic convolutions, she took to eating peanuts and snorting cayenne pepper at the same time. And overtime, she began to convince herself that she was allergic to nuts, she really was.
People would hear of these sneezing fits, “Oh, my god did you hear…” And they would talk about these episodes where of Laurel losing conciseness just by her proximity to nuts, “She wasn’t even eating them, she was just near them…”. And as they would re-tell the stories, they would be even more protective and conscious of their actions, “This is serious, ya’ll, she could die.”
Then, one day, Judy brought banana-walnut bread to work without asking. Laurel found out and sprayed herself in the face with mace.
Everyone was pissed at Judy.
But at home, alone, her face still red, Laurel was singing in the shower. She was so proud of herself for becoming the center of attention. Then, she slipped, hit her head and died.
It was the nuts that killed her.