Short Story #1 – The Tower & What Followed

Lightning.

Desolation.

Fire.

Foundations crumbling.

The Tower.

 

It all began when I flipped that damn card. How obvious. Did I expect any other? But I would continue to deny it. And that’s the day he began to grow on me.

 

I woke up that morning and he was on my shoulder, my left side, only at this point he wasn’t a he yet. He was a thing. And he was curious. And ugly. And about the size of a grapefruit but shaped like a camel. And he was black and grey. His colour projecting a small cloud over me. And he seemed to be seamless with my skin and yet he was entirely separate. He was horrifying.

 

He was silent. But he made his presence known. And I hated him. And I couldn’t shake him off of me. I tried to hide him under baggy sweaters but in mere moments, it was as if the fabric dissolved and he was sitting there for all to see. I panicked at first, tearing off my clothes only to discover they were unscathed. And then I tried layers but the same thing happened. Everyone would see him. There was nothing I could do.

 

Only people didn’t seem to acknowledge him. He was there in plain sight for all to judge and yet, despite scanning pupils that seemed to imply glances of discomfort, no one said a word. Despite my attempts to hide him, I wanted people to call him out so I knew I wasn’t crazy. But no one said a word.

 

Until one day, he did.

 

Who are you?

 

Said to me in the depths of night, as if I was the intruder in his life and he wasn’t the foreigner in mine. Disgusted, irritated, angry, and in shock, I shouted back at him. You are not welcome! You know me, you chose me, and you do not belong here! He shook on me and I got an inkling that he was laughing. As he shuddered, he grew in size, covering both my shoulders now. He spoke: You have chosen me. His weight increased. He was now not only an eyesore but a heavy load to bear. I crumpled a little under his weight before holding myself high, again. His colour intensified and the cloud over me grew larger.

 

I went back to sleep and prayed that in the morning that he would be gone.

 

But I awoke and he was there. Inflated, his colour and subsequent shadow deepened further, and his weight even worse to carry. Getting out of bed was difficult for me, so I lay there for an hour or so and contemplated how to escape my day, instead. There’s no point moping and playing the victim. You chose me. I huffed at the audacity of his comments and rolled myself out of bed.

 

I carried him throughout the day and the weight of him gave me severe anxiety.  It was difficult to breathe. It was difficult to eat. It was difficult to engage in conversation without giving hints at his existence and people shrugging off the topic from their own desire to avoid discomfort. He stayed with me and he plagued me. And as he ate away at me, I could no longer deny that I did choose him.

 

But eliminating him would isolate me. Eliminating him would have me feeling alone. Cutting myself free of his existence would mean I’d have to start over, I’d have to remember life before he began to grow on me. And in some strange way, I felt etherically attached to him. And even though I knew what to do, I still chose him. I still carried his weight. I still allowed his monstrous appearance to be a part of me and my life. I still allowed him to give me the endless discomfort that his mere existence plagued me with. He was winning. I let him live on me even longer.

 

But how could he win when I was the one to flip that card? I asked the question: does that not make me the seer? Does that not make me the wiser one in this non-consensual relationship? You see but you deny. You know but you ignore. You cast your die then expect a different roll.

 

Riddles. Now he plagues me with riddles. Games that I simply have no time for. Dramatics that take up moments of my life that should be spent dreaming, loving carelessly, relishing in happiness. And yet I am spending each waking moment with him, instead. Why?

 

So I tried to get him to go.

 

My first attempt was for me to leave:

I need to leave.
Why?
Because I said so.
You don’t mean it. You are nothing without me.
I am nothing without you.
So you will stay.

I will stay.

 

My second attempt I told him to leave:
This is not what I signed up for. This is the end.
Is it?
Yes.
You don’t sound convinced.
Yes, I am. Goodbye. Get out of here.
Okay. I’m going to hurt myself, though. It will hurt you, as well.
I can’t handle that. I’m here for you. What is it?
So I will stay?
You can stay.

 

My third attempt required a larger divide:
Enough is enough. Manipulation will not have me this time.
You don’t mean that.
I do
You don’t.
I do.
Walk with me.
You are not welcome to be a part of me, anymore.
I can convince you otherwise.
This is the end.
Can I stay?
This is the end.
This is the end?
This is the end. Goodbye.

 

And he was gone. Just like that, he was gone. The shadow he covered me with, the strength it took to get out of bed when he was weighing me down, the discomfort I felt with his existence around others, the way he seemed to permeate every moment, every piece of my life, gone. He was gone.

 

And I didn’t feel alone. And I didn’t feel isolated. And I didn’t feel as though I was starting over; I felt like I was picking up where I left off before he appeared. And I felt free. And even though I would never be able to forget his existence, I was okay with that. It was a reminder to me, an education in making sure he did not appear again, not as he once did.

 

I should have known better are words not worth lamenting. I carried him longer than I should have, I know this, and I learned. I grew. And my confidence in my intuition did, as well.

 

Always trust The Tower.

Afterall, I did ask the question and I did flip the card.

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