The flowers outside your window had died this morning. Maybe it was because you hadn’t watered them for the last four weeks. Truthfully, after work, you came home and sank into your bed without thinking about the flowers outside your window or the laundry on the floor. That motivation your co-workers had to keep up a beautiful house, attend every happy hour, and snap photos of their children playing in the garden wasn’t...you. So, much like your social life, the flowers had died. You fell asleep that night without a second thought about them both.
When you’re fully awake like you were that morning, with adrenaline going through your body at the sound of your blaring alarm clock, it can be hard to soak in every ounce of information. Information like those little flowers you should have watered, or the bird outside your window, or feeling of your bed frame grazing your hip when you leave your room.
When you’re half asleep? It's impossible to understand everything.
You wake up in the middle of the night with your arm hanging off the bed lazily. It was still dark outside. The whole room was encased in shadow, and your alarm clock that usually blinked numbers wasn’t anymore. You must have unplugged it without realizing it. Oh well. Your phone’s backup alarm would wake you anyways. You glance to your window, and the shade was open. The flowers seemed to still be dead. You didn’t mind the stars peeking through, though, so you let the curtains hang tiredly by the window.
Your mind tells you to pull your arm back onto the bed. A superstition that something was hiding in the dark and the stories you used to be scared of when you were 6 should have been coming back to you. But with your life at this point and all your disappointments, you let your arm hang off the bed. Those monsters could come for you if they wanted. You were just as hopeless as those dead flowers anyways.
Not a few minutes later, something unseen grabs your hand.
If you were more awake, you’d remember that you should be scared. You should pull your arm back onto the bed. You should get up and run. You should scream.
It starts to pull. You should really start screaming. Running. Something. Anything.
But you twist your arm and grab a hold of its hand tightly. Dried blood mixed with tears stains your fingertips and you see it smudge onto the hand, just slightly. You feel it stop its pulling. You slide your arm further off the bed, just a little. Testing if this is just a dream. It had to be a dream. It hits you that any contact is good that this point, even if it was someone here to steal what was left of your rent, but surely a thief wouldn't hide under the bed. So either you were going insane, or this was one realistic dream.
The hand pulls harder, and when you fall off the bed, you don’t hit your pale blue rug that your strewn out dirty clothes always hide. You don’t get a face full of socks and discarded pajama pants.
You hit… dirt? It’s too dark to see. You hear a voice.
You aren’t afraid, are you?
Something asks, but you aren’t sure if it’s out there in your head. You string curse words through your mind as you sit up, rubbing your back that hit the ground. It felt like grass but you aren’t sure anymore. Your mind was racing.
Not very kind of you to curse. You’ll never get help like that.
Oh. It seems to be in your head. You swipe your hand lazily across your tear-stained face. Does it know you were crying when you fell asleep? You look around but its like your eyes aren’t open. You ask it where you both are, and your voice echos around you.
You roll your eyes, but you know it can’t see you. This was a new level of feeling invisible.
I saw that.
You grimace. You feel like you should be more scared to be lost in the dark with a monster. You wonder why you of all people were here.
You’re here because you wanted to be.
Well, that wasn’t wrong. You did grab the darkness’s hand. But suddenly, frustrated by the dark and the ringing in your ears, you scream one question: Why me?
I believe you are broken. I can’t let you succumb to the darkness I live my life in.
It says. You are shocked for a moment, because how can it decide that? Don’t you get to decide if you are broken or not? If not you, then perhaps a medical professional? Not this darkness under your bed. Not this thing that your mind is making up.
I am in your head. I see every thought you’ve ever thought, and every moment of insecurity you’ve ever had. I’m not here to wreak havoc. No pain I can inflict on you could hurt you as much as you’ve already hurt yourself.
You seem confused. But you instinctively pull your pajamas over your thighs, trying to hide something you know the darkness saw you create moments ago in memories. You pretend it isn’t there.
I cannot let you join me. I know life is bad. I know. But I am here for you now. You can tell me about your sorrows and I will send you my love. I cannot let you join me here under the bed, dead. For you, I will fight.
You feel something fight against your hand that is sitting on what you think is the ground. You pull it out of the way, startled by the sudden use of a sense. Then, like a flash of light, all you can see is this delicate, white flower.
Just like the ones you planted outside your window. Just like the ones that died. You wonder why anything would choose you. What was so special about you?
I am yours. This apartment, this room, and now you, all belong to me. And I will not let you wander for eternity here with me. No, you will survive.
You wonder what that means, you want to tell it thank you, you want to ask it how you got to the dark, what it wants truly. But your mind gets foggy, and the little flower goes away. You can’t think anymore, not really. You can only see the darkness still, in your mind and with your eyes. You feel like you’re falling again.
Then, all of the sudden you’re awake in bed. Your room’s lights are off, but morning screams through your window. Your hand is still hanging off the bed, and you’re sure you made the whole thing up. But your fingers tingle on the ends, and you know it wasn’t just a dream. You glance out your window, and those dead flowers were alive and white and blooming like they’d never died.
You realize the monsters under your bed aren’t there to hurt you. They aren’t monsters at all, are they?
They’re living in the dark like those once dead flowers, just like you. But now you know you have each other, and there’s nothing that can stop you from growing.
You get up that morning and get ready, and text your coworker Jane if you could ride with her to the happy hour tonight. You feel good. Like you aren’t a burden to the world as much anymore. Somebody, er, something, loves you. And when you turn off your bedroom lights, you look to the space below your bed with a smile and whisper:
“Thank you, my new friend. For everything.”