The Thing

Submitted into Contest #58 in response to: Write a story about someone feeling powerless.... view prompt

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Drama

No one else seems to see it; the creature lurking in the background of my life. Its presence is obvious sometimes, at least to me, but other times it slinks back into the dark corners, its shadowy form peeking at my life from the very periphery of my awareness. It's always there though, even when out of sight.

This morning, it had decided to come at me in full force. I awoke just before my alarm to the gentle pitter patter of raindrops on my roof and the omnipresent chill that surrounds the month of November. I did not get up immediately, instead trying to will the pressure in my chest to depart and force my heavy eyes to open. It was a familiar feeling, but not the good kind of familiar like the smell of your mother's cooking or the tapping of your dog's nails on the hardwood as he runs to greet you at the door. No. This was the kind of familiar that you wish with your entire being was not familiar at all. It was the sort of dread you felt when someone you love got sick and you knew they were not going to pull through. It was the sinking anxiety you felt when your wife was three hours late coming home from work and her phone battery was dead. It was the grip of an icy fist around your heart, white knuckled and unrelenting. 

The creature appeared to me within that familiar dread as it always seemed to do like some eldritch omen. It's dark presence loomed over me in the pre-twilight of the early morning. Cold fingers dug into my head, my mind, my psyche, draining the joy and energy from my body. I wished I could just fall asleep again. There was a lump in my throat and a heaviness came over me that I could not lift. 

I squeezed my eyes shut as tightly as I could and drew in a galvanizing breath. I held it and told myself that it would be fine. The Thing would leave me alone, eventually. I opened my eyes and sat up, letting the warmth and comfort of my bed slip away. My feet hit the floor and, with a sigh, I rose from my bed.

Pete, my golden retriever, seemed as exhausted as I was that morning, lazily sniffing at the tree stump at the end of our street as the rain tapped lightly at my umbrella. I could barely feel the cold. The autumn chill transformed into a sort of numbness as the creature stared me down from across the street, its inaudible whispers echoing through my mind, filling me with inexplicable sadness.

Natalie came downstairs just as I finished scrambling some eggs. It was a simple task, really, but with the Thing over my shoulder, it took nearly everything I had to complete. I turned as she entered the kitchen and flashed her a weak smile. She yawned and fell into my arms. Her warmth and the smell of her hair washed over me. I watched the creature dissolve across the room as I squeezed her tightly. 

"Good morning, love," she mumbled sleepily as I handed her a plate of eggs and toast. 

"Morning, sweetness," I smiled. We ate breakfast and I wished with all my heart I could just stay, but the day called. I shuffled upstairs while Natalie cleaned up after breakfast. You don't deserve her, the Thing whispered while I tried to shower. Then the numbness returned. You don't deserve her love. I turned up the heat of the water but it did not seem to change at all. I just wanted it to go away. To leave me alone.

I kissed Natalie goodbye on my way out the door, lingering on her lips as long as I could.

"Have a good day, Love," she smiled. She doesn't love you. Nobody really does

"You too. I love you," 

I drove the twenty-three minutes to work in silence, the Thing's whispers echoing through me, piercing into my being like knives and bleeding me dry. I felt numb. Powerless against the Thing's possession of me.

The rest of the day went by in a dark and dreary blur, the rain clouds outside only partially responsible for the fray of the day. At times, I wondered if anyone else even saw the clouds, the rain, or if it was all the creature's doing. I wanted so desperately to be rid of it. To see the sun again.

It was already getting dark when I left work that evening and the night felt as though it itself was the Thing. Its eyes, its whispers were everywhere, and nowhere at once. You're not good enough. I got into my car. You'll never do anything with your life. I started to drive. You. Are. Worthless. 

I could not take it anymore. I had to get rid of this Thing. This fucking burden on my soul. My eyes darted around the street, and my foot pressed down on the accelerator. I could slam us into a light post. I could drive right off the bridge when I crossed the river. I could take this monster with me. End it for good. 

No. It would not work. I drew in a single, steady breath, only then realizing that tears had welled in my eyes, and that I had begun sobbing. I flipped on my hazard lights and pulled over to the side of the road, my hands trembling. 

The creature stood outside, bathed in the orange glow of the streetlight, and laughed. Why? Why me? I took a few deep, ragged breaths and continued on my way home, making sure that the redness had gone from my eyes and the tears had dried. I could not let her know. I could not place this burden on her shoulders. I took out my keys. You should have driven off that bridge, it whispered, from somewhere over my shoulder. I unlocked the door and heard the clicking of Pete's nails on the hardwood as he ran across the house to greet me. I smelled roasted chicken and garlic in the air. I smiled, and the Thing dissolved again, leaving me alone, for now at least, with the familiar warmth of home.

Note From the author: If you or someone you know is facing demons like this one, remember, you are not alone, you are not a burden, you are loved, help is out there…

https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

"If you look for the light, you often find it. But if you look for the dark, that is all you will ever see." -Iroh, The Legend of Korra

September 12, 2020 00:59

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4 comments

16:43 Sep 17, 2020

Would mean a lot if you could check mine out.

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Adrian Stolecki
17:44 Sep 17, 2020

I did already! =)

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16:42 Sep 17, 2020

This is a beautiful story, something people can relate to or understand. It's short and simple and amazing. I love this story!

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Adrian Stolecki
17:44 Sep 17, 2020

Thanks!

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