Title art by L.H. Grey
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Akira Yamaoka “True”
Night after night he comes for me. Every time I close my eyes, I’m greeted by his icy touch and my safe place is no longer quite so secure. Sometimes I wake up screaming in the dead of night, but not a solitary soul ever hears my cries. It’s as though he steals away the sound before I can make it, ensuring that our masquerade remains intimate. My waking hours are spent trying desperately to forget but it all comes flooding back the very second I re-enter his dark realm. I used to think he only existed in a tiny crawlspace in my subconscious but, the truth is, he’s everywhere I look and only ever has eyes for me. We all have our demons and it appears as though this visitor of mine is the cross I was intended to bear. So bear him I do.
I can feel his inky corrosion right now, coursing through my veins as he snuffs out the light inside me. My skin itches wildly as he throbs beneath it, just forcefully enough to ensure I know precisely where he is at all times. Every labored breath I take is populated by him and it’s suffocating. Indeed, there have been times where my sole desire has been to tear the skin straight off my very bones and expose him once-and-for-all; but these thoughts only encourage this visitor of mine to dig in all the deeper. Gone is my sanctuary, replaced with numerous blackened pockets of him that swell each time he taunts. When he does, there are no words, at least, none that I can decipher. But I’m under absolutely no illusion that they’re not twisted and vile.
I guess deep down I always knew he was there; loitering in the darkest recesses of my mind with harsh intent. As a young girl, I actually took comfort from his presence, as fear was an alien concept to me back then. That said, childlike innocence was never destined to stick around forever, and he snatched mine away piece by piece until there was nothing left remaining. It was then, and only then, that I realized just how cruel his intentions were, this visitor of mine. Given that I could no longer bank on the bliss of ignorance to bail me out; my blind eyes were left with nowhere to turn. It’s one thing facing your innermost fears, but entirely another when they’re guaranteed to be staring right back as you do. They prowl and they probe, every flicker’s in strobe, never once rhyme or reason to their infinite treason. “Come inside” they suggest in a thousand hushed whispers. So you tell me – whatever’s a girl supposed to do?
Once reality has become little more than a distortion, all that remains is to follow this elusive white rabbit of mine down its hole. And this I do without dalliance. Deeper and deeper I burrow, until such time as the light above me starts to fade, but it is here I place my marker. Were I to venture any further into this dark corner, then there’s no question I’d be stolen away for good. Thus the path I walk ends here every time. However this visitor of mine is respectful enough not to seize me where I stand, regardless of any territorial advantage on his part. Make no mistake, he makes his presence very much known, to the tune of all seven of my senses. But for whatever reason, he seems disinterested in snuffing out that one remaining light.
This isn’t to suggest I don’t feel penned in and vulnerable; just not quite as helpless as one would imagine. It’d be all too easy to assume the victim mentality, if I were that way inclined. I’m not. Fear may very well be the mind killer, but only if you give it your blessing. I don’t. You may accept your fate and surrender your will. I won’t. As while there’s breath in my lungs and belief that I can – I can’t. The way I see it, he needs me every bit as much as I do him, even more so in fact. You see, darkness requires a vessel through which to manifest and cannot hope to flourish in the real world without one. For all the pain and suffering I know damn well he could and would inflict, it needn’t ever come to that. Where there’s darkness, there’s light. After blindness, comes sight. And you either concede or show the cold steel to fight.
So I do precisely that, although our moonlit engagements have never once concluded in bloodshed. As a matter of fact, I would liken each one more to an intimate dance of sorts. There are no varnished floorboards to glide across, just a random smattering of teeth and bones that crunch beneath the soles of my feet as we twirl. The symphony consists of a multitude of despairing cries, each one emanating from beyond the blackened veil that supplies our backdrop. Often I can feel these spirits glancing my bare skin as we dance, almost as though trying to coerce me into their jurisdiction. But I have no inclination whatsoever to join them this or any other night. Perhaps my stubborn refusal would have something to do with the hand that grips my own tightly the whole time. And perhaps that’d explain the fact that I never once feel forsaken.
I’m a twin you see; one of a pair of dead ringers who bookend the very same soul and being. And there’s not a step I take in life that isn’t in tandem with my sister. Should either one of us veer too close to the void, then the other will instinctively pull back until such time as the threat has passed. Distance cannot separate us as we walk together all the way. In my most pensive moments, it is she who I speak to, without a solitary word ever needing to be spoken. She knows this visitor of mine as I know hers and is very much aware of the tenebrous tryst he tantalizes with. There can be no negotiations, not when our dual beams are combined. You see, for as much as children get a thrill from flirting with darkness, it’s in our nature to seek out the light sources. We’re just kids, after all. And age couldn’t be more immaterial in that respect.
Night after night he comes for me, this visitor of mine. Only his touch is no longer quite so icy. I’m still expelled from my slumber to the tune of silent screams, and our rendezvous are every bit as intimate as ever. However, each time I return from his dark realm, a little more of his darkness is discharged. Better yet, for every time I perform this relay, I make space for a little more light inside of me. He may have memorized the layout of my mind and my body, but he’ll never claim my soul as something so pure and white is out of commission to hands so foul. I am love I am light, not some mute acolyte, not a servant to he or a drudge to the night. Shades of grey serve me well, neither heaven nor hell, for there’s light and there’s darkness in my citadel. Farewell.