― Natalie Goldberg,
It’s not easy, but I do. It’s much easier to pretend to be as dark as somebody else than acknowledge your own. The truth is, I hate him. I hate his darkness. I hate what he has done and, more than anything, I hate what he has made me. I am but a speck in his shadow, a thing used and left behind. A shadow of sunlight. A soiled hankie.
Perhaps I had some darkness before. In fact, I know I did. There were days of pain and despair, anger and hatred. There were days I could not rise out of bed but wallowed away sunshine as if to keep myself hidden from what lay beyond my four walls. I hated, but my hate was directed inward. I hated what I was, what I had become, what wasn’t my life. Now I hate him.
I resisted as long as I was able, but he knew about the pain and despair, he used the anger and hatred to bind me to him. Even if it had been only one day, the stain of his darkness would always be upon me. It is easier to do the things I did in his darkness, for him, than to remain afraid in mine.
I don’t remember the act itself, not in any traditional way. I remember only the smell of smoke and ash, the feel of a wash of colors around me, destroying any future that might have lain before me.
Could I have helped myself? Perhaps, but if I pretend my darkness, before him, was the same as his, after him, then I can pretend I am not to blame.
Yet, I am. What man can force my limbs to obey him? My mind to accept such darkness? My soul to shrivel and shrink until no more? I am but a lie that keeps on lying.
The darkness has no end. I am trapped forever, inside and out. In a white room over-filled with fluorescent light. Whiteness all around and around until I am colorless. My body aches in my jacket, warm and still.
My arms shiver with the ache to be free.
“Well… don’t tell me how to live my unlife, then! I’m perfectly capable of…. of…. unliving my… unlife!”
Justin raised an eyebrow. “Well, that certainly told me… nothing.”
“Don’t be rude.”
“To a dead person? Never!” He crossed his heart, swore to die, making fun of me.
Rolling my eyes, I turned away. “So…. hummmm… how exactly did I die?” I couldn’t help but think he was making the biggest ass in the world of me, telling me I was dead.
I didn’t feel dead. I didn’t look dead, at least not when I looked down at myself. I looked….. pasty and thin and well, you know, like always.
“Are you sure you want to know?”
“Of course I want to know,” I exploded. “I wouldn’t of asked otherwise.”
He shrugged with a ‘you asked’ look and said, “JoAnn killed you.”
“What?” I yelped. “Where? When? Why?”
“Let me take those in chronological order. What – she killed you. When – two nights ago. Where – here. Why – how the hell would I know?
He sat down at the table. I just stared at him, mouth open, unable to process what was being said; shook my head and sank down onto a chair.
Wow. She’d killed me.
Just when I managed to collect my thoughts to ask a question,
I jerked awake.
Dark. Night. Bed.
I collapsed back onto the bed, jerking my hands up before my face. Pasty. Thin, Solid. Me.
But…. who…. were Justin and JoAnn?
A knock made me jump. Wiping hair from my face, I pushed up off the bed and stumbled to the door. A tall, auburn-haired boy stood in the hallway, awkward grin on his face. Behind him stood a forty-something woman and a nine-year girl.
He thrust out his hand.
“I’m your new roommate, Justin. This is my Mom and my sister. JoAnn.”