It’s so suffocating.
I crawled into the shadows, trying to remain unseen by the creature.
It doesn’t work.
It stopped in front of me, grinning before turning its back on me and walking away.
I stand, walking towards the barrier, putting my palm against the thin glass, my skin glowing.
The dark duplicate of me walks ahead, stopping as they stared out, looking through my eyes into whatever I appear to be seeing outside my mental consciousness.
“Smile,” they hissed.
I felt a tug of my lips, the corners slipping up.
I try to stop, I really do, but it had an iron leash on me, unforgiving and unyielding.
No. I kept my mouth firmly shut. My stomach churned, the leash tugging, a sensation as if a hook dug into my flesh, pulling and pulling, my skin ripping and muscles burning.
The creature snarled, stalking over to me before slapping my face.
“I said, respond,” it growled deeply.
“I got a B on the test,” I muttered, my vocal cords and mouth moving towards the will of that creature, my voice hollow, my face automatically slipping into an impassive mask.
It smiled at me.
I sank to the ground of my cell, trying not to cry.
When will I be mine again?
“I got a C,” Ava sighed, gazing out the window. “Mr. Brandon was so harsh with the grading. What did you get?”
Ava didn’t hear a response at first. She turned her head, looking at Morgan, who sat across from her.
Ava stared, willing her to say something.
Morgan’s mouth tightened into a thin line, her eyes glazed and saying nothing.
She flinched suddenly, a jerk of her face. Her gray eyes flashed with fury, her hands clenched.
Her lips pulled upward in a grim smile.
“Morgan?” Ava asked again, nervous.
Then Morgan’s eyes dimmed. She looked at Ava, her face blank and emotionless as she said, “I got a B on the test.”
Ava nodded warily, not saying anything. Morgan turned her head, her face contorting into an expression of pain.
Tears welled, but they were gone within a blink. She slouched into her chair, tilting her head back, and just stared at the ceiling.
Her figure was as still as stone.
Ava just sat there, quiet, when Morgan jerked up, hissing between her teeth.
Then she suddenly became rigid.
And slouched back into the chair.
Her hair fell limp, purple bags under her eyes. Her skin was deathly pale, so pale that you could see the web of blue veins glowing beneath the papery skin.
She looked like life was sucked out of her.
I cowered in the shadows, the creature beating me until I bled.
“How dare you defy me? How dare you revolt against me?” it screeched, slapping me.
I cried, my tears mixing with blood. Pain racked through my body, and I bit back my scream.
“Please-” I began to say, but it put a cold finger on my lips.
“You have no voice here. You say and do what I command. Do you understand?”
I nodded meekly. It turned, satisfied.
I watched as it walked past the sheet of glass, a luxury I never had after the creature invaded my mind, taking over my body.
I cried silently, until the creature hissed more commands, my mental and physical self obeying shamelessly, my face falling into shadows.
Morgan stared out the window, gazing into endless space.
Ava poked her in the shoulder, and she slowly turned to pin her sharp yet empty gaze on Ava.
“What did you get for number twelve?”
Morgan flinched and said in a dead voice, “187.”
Ava sighed in relief, turning back to her worksheet, used to Morgan’s emptiness by now.
If she turned a little later, she would have seen the tear streak down Morgan’s cheek, the only sign of emotion that escaped the creature’s control for ten years.
I died a bit every day, giving a fraction of my soul to the creature unwillingly.
I barely even remember what I was like before.
The dark duplicate of me snuck into my dreams one day, smiling at me before taking out a knife and leading me against a wall. I was crying and screaming, but it just waved its hand, creating a wall of glass. It walked away, and I tried to escape, but every time I tried to cross, the wall held me back, despite how the creature walked through it constantly, mostly to punish my disobedience.
It never affected my mental self, the body I hold in my mind, but the change in my physical state was obvious.
No one noticed, and if they did, they said nothing.
It was like I didn’t exist. Even my best friend, Ava, didn’t mind.
I was six at the time.
“Why is this happening to me?”
That was the last thought I ever had as a physical being, on my own.
I could do nothing as the creature controlled my body, controlled me.
When was the last time I showed a flicker of emotion, a sliver of the scarred human cowering inside?
As that girl, my old friend, Ava, turned, my blank mask slipped, a tear burning down my cheek.
The creature froze too.
Then the creature turned, its face a mask of rage.
It lunged at me.
As it beat me, I held back my screams and pleads.
I let it wreck my body, draw my blood, as I cringed into the wall.
When it stopped, I was laying in a pool of warm blood, barely being able to think past the pain.
Then the creature began controlling me again, and I had to move, talk, be normal.
As normal as I could be.
Through my glazed eyes, I saw something that knocked the breath out of me.
A small sliver in the glass sheet.
A grin spread across my face, but then the creature gained control of me, and it slipped.
Soon, very soon, all hell was going to break loose.
Ava sat on the bus, tired and eager to go home. Morgan sat next to her, yet again staring out the window as the trees and roads turned into shapeless blurs.
Ava chatted mindlessly, trying to trigger any emotion across Morgan’s face, but she remained vacant, replying occasionally.
For whatever reason, Ava talked to Morgan so much because she knew Morgan was never going to judge, never respond.
Suddenly, Ava faltered, looking at Morgan.
She was smiling wickedly, her eyes sparkling with mischief.
She looked so happy, so… alive. A faint glimmer of what she used to look like.
Ava hasn’t seen Morgan show any emotion for ten years.
“Morgan?” Ava asked in wonder.
Then her face fell again. She turned to look at Ava, and her face was glazed and lifeless again, her eyes dim and tired.
“Nothing,” Ava muttered.
It was nighttime. The creature was fast asleep, as I should have been, had I not noticed that crack in the glass a few hours earlier.
I ran my fingers over it, the uneven glass bumping across my fingertips. I dug my nail into the crack, and it fractured more, fissures spreading across the wall like fire.
Then I took a deep breath, closed my hands into tight fists, and punched the wall with all my might.
The glass shattered into a million pieces, falling to the ground like dazzling snowflakes. A warm wind rushed to greet me, filling my lungs with sweet air.
I walked past the line, a heavy weight on my shoulder lifting as I smiled, in control once more.
The creature was nowhere to be seen, probably disappeared as soon as the wall broke.
Tears leaked down my face as I tilted my head up and laughed, feeling as light as a feather.
When Ava saw Morgan at school, she did a double-take.
Morgan’s pale skin was now a soft cream, the web of veins was nowhere to be seen. Her hair was bright, her cheeks flushed with color, her eyes alive and dancing with amusement.
When she talked, she laughed and smiled, her voice ringing. She moved with grace, her limbs elegant and strong.
Ava’s eyes brimmed with tears.
She finally got her friend back.
Ever since then, the creature never came back. I ruled over my mind and body, making my own decisions.
Every day, a huge smile was glued on my face.
Every day, a fraction of my soul was mine again.
After ten long years, Morgan Whitlock belonged to herself again.