Trigger warning: suicide
The dark had always been her comfort. Like a warm cocoon, it wrapped itself around her in a soft embrace. The dark protected her, it hid her. The only thing that understood her perfectly and still, it stayed. The darkness did not abandon her.
So why did it leave her now?
Thirty years ago, the world was enveloped in a layer of darkness. Shadows and mists swirled in the air, and night became day. There was no trace of the warm sunlight left; it vanished the same moment that darkness descended upon us. Without light, we could see nothing and as the mists started to become thicker and the shadows started turning solid, movement also became a luxury. Nobody knew what had brought about this sudden change in the state of the world and research took a backseat as people were focused predominately on surviving through the next hour.
But the humans did not just sit around and wait in the dark doing nothing. Technology started to evolve in order to adapt to the sudden change in our world. Ultraviolet light was developed which resulted in many new inventions focused around it. Various devices were brought into the market that aided in daily life activities. New plants and crops were discovered that could grow without sunlight. These plants were called ‘mushrooms’.
And just like this, they didn’t need the sunlight anymore.
But they still wanted the sunlight. They still craved it, longed to feel the blazing heat of it on their faces and the light reflect off their eyes, making them shine and twinkle in the sun.
She knew they wanted it because people still wrote about the sun. They wrote about happiness and prosperity. They talked about the darkness as an evil entity and the lost sunlight as hope. Yet, Zoya didn’t believe this. If the sun was your hope then why did it leave you?
This did not stop the people from missing and reminiscing about the world of light that they once lived in. Even children who were born long after the mysterious event cried for the sun. They cried for the light that they read about in books and stories, the light that protected them.
However, Zoya did not miss it. She had never known it personally— born nine years after the strange event— darkness was all she ever knew. And she liked it. She found her solace in the dark shadows of the night, when streetlights were off to conserve energy. Those few hours of complete darkness, pitch black pools of shadows like the black of pupils in the eye, and the absence of any light, were when Zoya felt like herself.
The nothingness of the night was what had attracted Zoya at first. The darkness was not a substance, rather it was the lack of all things. And that is exactly what Zoya felt herself. She felt nothing.
Zoya had been alone her entire life. Alone except for the darkness to keep her company. She wasn’t an orphan; she had a family. A loving family. Perhaps a family who loved her too much.
They didn’t understand her. As much as they tried, they couldn’t fathom her obsession with the dark. Zoya herself was also often fascinated by it. Why did she feel more at home among the shadows than her own family?
But it wasn’t always like this. She had never hated the dark, true, but she wasn’t always this enchanted with it. This major change in Zoya’s personality occurred when she was sixteen years old.
Today marked the day thirty years since the world changed. Since the light left this world and darkness ruled it. Today marked the day when at noon, the world changed again.
The darkness dissipated from sight as the strong rays of light infiltrated the air. The large round ball of fire became visible again in the sky. The sun had come back to its people and screams of joy tore through the wind.
Except Zoya’s. Zoya screamed from pain. The bright light was unknown to her and it exposed her. She did not find the hope and comfort in the sunlight that others did. The unfiltered light illuminating her skin, she felt naked against the world. The light did not protect her. She was afraid that it would kill her. Like it killed her emotions. Like it killed her brother.
She wanted the dark. She craved the dark. She searched for the shadows that had been her companion for all these years but she found none. The sun had obliterated the darkness. The sun had obliterated her safe haven.
And so she hated it. She hated it for taking her brother away from her. Five years ago, Zoya’s brother had enlisted himself to be used in medical research. Research about light. Light that was too harmful in its direct form for humans. It had been too harmful for her brother. It had killed her brother.
That was the day that the feelings left Zoya’s body. The light had killed the joy of Zoya’s life. She became an empty void inside. And so, Zoya had turned to the dark for company. She filled the empty spaces in her heart with the shadows of the dark.
Zoya tried to find her familiar shadows around the usual dark corners but the sun had somehow erased all shadows from the world. Even her own self had no shadow.
This was as much a mystery to her as the world been encased in darkness in the unexplainable event. The phenomenon that happened thirty years ago had repeated itself in an oddly twisted manner.
Whilst others celebrated the return of light in their lives, Zoya frantically searched for her old friend. She was growing more miserable and restless like a drug addict away from his beloved drugs. She travelled across the town trying to find an area devoid of the sun but her efforts were turning out to be useless. She could not find even a trace of the darkness anymore.
Zoya reached the abyss at the end of the town. She walked forward to sit at the edge. As she looked down into the abyss, she found what she had been searching for. There in the very depths of the abyss, Zoya swore she could see the familiar shadows gathering. Beneath and beyond all the light of the world, the dark hid.
All she wanted to do was plunge after those shadows. Without them, Zoya didn’t feel like herself. The dark was a part of her and being away from it was like being away from her soul. She needed the dark.
And so, she jumped. She jumped into the abyss, flying down to her self. As the shadows grew nearer, she felt like she had true purpose now.
When Zoya hit the bottom, everything around her went dark. Surrounded by her shadows, darkness enclosed her. And she finally found peace in it.