She has flirted with the darkness.
The demons have been loud lately, clawing at the inner walls of her mind, whispering terribly beautiful insecurities. They wrap their shadowy hands around her heart, around her throat, until it feels as though she is drowning in her very own skin.
Silently drowning in front of an audience, the picture of calm, as if she has already been separated from her own body and watches herself passively battle the shadows. Drowning. Drowning.
She reaches for hands, anything to anchor her, to yank her back. They brush their fingers against hers, only to draw back, their words a cage, barring her in with the hell –
Just stay busy.
Just do what makes you happy.
Just stay positive.
How do they not see? How do they not understand? They cannot – they cannot fathom how their ray of sunlight could ever be dampened by shadows and demons and darkness. She is brightness incarnate, she is beauty and strength, she is a pillar of endless, positive energy and dreams. They back away, selfishly fearing for themselves, for if she falls, she will surely take the world with her.
They turn away, and the cage closes.
She battles on.
Society says we must fight our own battles. Yet, the moment someone loses to the demons, society wonders why they did not reach out for hands to pull them out of the pit. It is nothing more than a vicious cycle of bystander effect – everyone wants to help, but no one does.
She becomes her own soldier, her own hero. The battle is long; she is weary. She dances and parries – how sweet it would be to just lay down, for a moment, to not feel choked panic on how far she has yet to go, to not have the demons grip her heart at an intersection. For perhaps those who wander do remain lost. Is she lost? She is somewhere, but very alone. And the path is very dark and she has burned out all her brightness.
Her throat burns, tightens, her own saliva is thick in her mouth.
How are you feeling today?
How has your day been?
It’s been okay.
What is not said says more than what is said. Trivial. She knows better than to latch onto the ropes; they are but thin threads, euphemisms for ‘I know you are lost, but I won’t help you’.
The attention does little to assuage her. She moves on. Bright pockets of light speckle her path. She bathes in them. The moment is short though. The demons still find her, sapping her energy and her light and her dreams. She runs. Her feet sludge through the hopelessness, the desperation. What can she do? Where can she go? Where is she going? Direction is meaningless in the dark – down is up and up is sideways and every path seems to lead back to the same spot.
Surely she has died already, surely this is hell. Hell, wrapped in a beautiful home, with beautiful paintings, and beautiful faces, the empty promises of a beautiful life. For Hell is not a place, but a state of mind.
How sweet it would be to just lay down.
There is no rest for the wicked. The wicked will find her, grasp at her, pull at her clothes, her hair, her words, her skin, her life, her breath. Onward she battles. It is always darkest before the dawn, they say. Even in the darkest of times, one must remember to turn on the light. The darkness is deep, suffocating. She ploughs on, searching in greater depth for the ultimate happiness.
Further, further into the shadows. There is no company here but her own. She rises up to become her own hero.
Some days are good.
Some days are bad.
The good lights her path for a brief moment, a brief moment in which she can see! Then it is dark again and the path disappears once more. She battles every moment, just for that one, quick glimpse of light, to show her the way.
The darkness is consuming. She must survive. The little sanity she maintains chants at her, weak and thin, but steady.
Attitude, positive and strong.
Rise above expectations.
It’s been a long time in the darkness. What will she do, when the demons no longer chase her? Where will she be, when she emerges?
She does not know. It’s difficult to know anymore. So she keeps moving. She keeps battling.
She is weary and the dark path is longer still.