Photo credit: Umberto Shaw
I remember how he used to visit me everynight, holding me in the dark, a cold pistol to my temple.
The rage and pain rocked me like a crack baby, while I spat prayers of peace and silence between the waves of grief and coughing snot.
I’d come to depend on the pain he brought me. I appreciated his loyalty.
How long had I been trapped in that prison?
Between my thoughts, in every silent moment, where the mystics sought Nirvana, I found only Hell.
Of course, I left this world. I escaped this body. Why remain in this tortured state when psychosis is free medicine? And oh, the realms I’ve explored.
But that’s another story.
During the day, I felt the shadow stalking behind, whispering of failure and worthlessness. His pistol to my head, threatening my life with his hatred. After so many decades, I’d come to believe his lies.
I remember the moments he stole, like the time my parents remembered my birthday, and as everyone sang Happy Birthday to me, he whispered of disgust and shame.
Or when I almost had a good time at that party with some people I didn’t know, he took hold of me in front of everyone, called me a worthless slut.
From then on I was the “psycho worthless slut.”
And despite how much he couldn’t stand me, he came, night after night, with the barrel of his pistol to my head.
Why not pull the trigger already?
Then something changed. Over the course of 20 years, or so.
I was sitting up in bed, listening to the silence between my thoughts and realized that I was not in Hell. I remembered from whence I came.
As every person I ever hurt, and all of whom have hurt me, came before me carrying a black box. I opened my heart and offered them Love.
One by one, I retrieved my soul and reclaimed by peace, turning enemies into relations. Until he came forward.
His face hidden behind his pistol, his heart behind the words, “I hate you.”
His arm, grotesque with muscle, bulged out of his torn shirt.
While the skinny left arm hung useless, an impotent worm.
I stood, an epiphany opening like a rose bud on a frosty morning, and went to him.
“I remember you, Brother. I know why you hold your weapon out like so. I know why you’re here. Do you remember?”
He shoved his gun in my face, pressing the cold barrel to my head. “To kill you. I hate you.”
The stench of rotting corpses spewed from his mouth, the sewage of his heart.
In the past, I believed him. But now…
I nodded. “Yes. Should I have taken a dark path, should I have been a danger to the people I love, should I have failed at my mission, it was your job to kill me, to spare my soul the burdens of evil. It was me who gave you this task.”
His scowled face melted in understanding, while his tears fell down my cheeks. I reached out to take the weapon from him, but changed my mind.
“You did your job well, Shadow. My soul belongs to me and my body is safe, thanks to your vigilance. I have a new job for you now. Keep the weapon concealed.”
Shadow lowered his arm, and I saw his face for the first time. He was just a boy in need of a bath. “I did good?”
I nodded, “You did good.”
He smirked. “I can eat? I can sleep now?”
So the Shadow took refuge in the center of my heart, while the others watched and began to ask, “What about me? I can eat now? I can sleep?”