He said into the darkness. The echo of an empty room was his only reply. Except the room wasn’t empty, the thing lurked in the corner, rarely talking, even more rarely moving.


The man moved deeper into the room and lit a match.


“Why do you always do this to me? I was doing ok until you showed up”


Again silence was his only greeting, silence his long time companion. The thing grinned bitterly to itself, still not prepared to give form to its own sick sentiments. If it could have been seen, you would have observed sharp yellowish teeth and a lopsided face, a reflection in the mirror of all that’s wrong in your own heart.


“Remember when I found you lurking at the bottom of a drawer? Written in ink!!” The man screamed into the darkness.


Again he was greeted with nothing more than a rustling and a hint of a sneer.


“All those years sat in that draw. Growing ever hateful, is it any wonder I keep you locked up in here?” The man persisted with his one-sided dialogue.


The thing, not really a creature, lurked corruptively in the shadow. It refused to utter anything.


The man slumped into the rocking chair. The chair was a painful reminder of all that he had lost but a burden he kept and would never lose. He needed to feel the pain to remind himself that he was alive, without the pain he had nothing. He hated the fact that he had to have these conversations from time to time. Even when he thought he’d had it all under control, the thing would demand his attention.


“I know what will get rid of you” The man finally snarled.


He reached for a bottle of single malt scotch and caressed its cap. He knew he shouldn’t but he knew that he wouldn’t resist. He unscrewed the cap and savoured the wonderful clicking sound, the sound that meant the bottle was open, giving him solace for what was to come. Like a furtive lover he breathed deeply of the sweet aroma. He took a long swig without further consideration. Months of rehabilitation had just been blown out of the water but he had no regrets, just blissful oblivion.


“Typical” a barely audible voice coughed.


“I knew you would” it said with a mean chuckle.


“Now you fucking dare speak to me?” The man shouted with disgust.


“What did you expect?” The thing in the dark said, now finding its full voice.


Gaining no reply the thing continued “What you don’t realise is that you need me and we will always be together”


“NO!” the man slurred in drunken horror.


“Yes” said the thing that would forever be with him.


The man started sobbing quietly and he picked up a near by photo frame. He composed himself and gazed longingly at the picture contained within. The thing had grown used to this routine and knew what would happen next, so he tried a different tact.


“Shall I sing” It gently cooed.


It was the man’s turn to remain silent.


The thing shuffled a little closer to the man.


“I could sing” It paused, considering carefully its next words. “Like she did”


The man’s head snapped to attention, shaken from his stupor by these words. His glare pierced into the shadow realm, where the thing always dwelt.


“Don’t EVER mention her again”


The thing made a strange noise, like the sound of a cat locked out on the landing, a whining, mewling sort of sound,


“Stop that noise” The man commanded.


The awful noise continued its volume had increased to the verge of caterwauling.


“STOP” The man screamed, now on the edge of his tether.


“You can sing one song if you stop that noise” The man said softening his tone.


The thing stopped the noise immediately and then began to sing. Its’ voice was majestic, like a thousand spring birds singing a unified hymn to the sun.


The man let his head drop to one side, charmed to the verge of sleep by the music. It was his favourite song as the thing knew full well. It wouldn’t make the hurt stop for long but it made it stop for a moment, a brief and wonderful moment. All that he had, all of it was wonderful, but the blackness was always with him, but the song, the song was perfection, a reminder to cherish all he had.


The thing moved closer to the man, stepping into the beam of sunshine streaming through the skylight. He was identical to the man in every way; he sat beside the man and draped his arm seductively over the man’s shoulders, whispering to him.


“Sshh, I know pain and despair, I can help you. I always help you”


They sat like that for days, as they often did, until the man was ready to face the world again, as he often was.


©John de Gruyther 2014

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