Shadow

My head starts to feel heavy. I can feel my heart constricting and pounding wildly against my chest. Breathing doesn’t come as easy as it should be. There is a sudden chill that takes over my hands, and they start to feel tingly. My feet tell me to run away from all of the pain that I’m experiencing, but I simply stand there, with my eyes squeezed shut and my breaths getting shorter by the second. In my desperation, I place my hands over my ears, silently wishing that the voices would go away. They only get louder, more frantic, and hysterical. Just when I think it’s too much to handle, they quiet down to barely audible whispers. I can almost imagine what it would like in my head.

I am dressed in white, with the sleeves torn and stained with blood and dust. My hair is in disarray, my hands are bound in chains and my feet are left alone, yet there were raw bloody blisters marking my delicate skin. The room is dimly lit, with several individuals hovering over my figure. They are all standing around me as they examine me, not even bothering to hide their own horror and disbelief at my appearance. Someone starts to speak in a voice I am familiar with, as she murmurs a few words. The shadows get bigger and bigger, until they hover over me.  The sudden silence from the crown makes me more anxious as they make a pathway for a figure dressed in black, smiling manically at me as she lifts my chin up with her small, delicate fingers. Her eyes were of a warm brown tone, yet I could see the other side of her that caused a chill to run my back. Her long dark brown hair was tied back to a bun, with a few stray strands framing her round face and emphasizing her plump cheeks. Her lips were slightly plump and tinted slightly pink as it curled to a small smile.

            Just like staring at a mirror.

My mind jolts back to the present as I realize that someone is shaking me, trying to talk to me about something I cannot hear. I snap out of my trance, staring blankly at the person who was trying to get my attention. Realizing what just happened, I force myself to smile and laugh as I babble a nonsensical excuse about being naturally spaced out. The person looks at me worriedly and I wave my hand dismissively, hearing my voice rise a little as I fumble with my hands. I stand up, pulling at my sweater as I excuse myself. I steer my way around the benches, waving at the people who had just arrived. Instead of heading for the bathroom at the left, I decide to keep walking towards a dark passageway. Usually, I avoid going to that place because of the rumours of the supernatural that roam by. But today, I wouldn’t give a care about anything as long as I can stay in a place where people cannot see me, because I feel a torrential wave of emotions coming back. I ignore the people exiting the place, staring at me as if they thought I was crazy. Well, they can’t be blamed.

The paint on the walls at the side of the path looks chipped out, with a few words written on it. The skies were cloudy, making the place look gloomier than usual. The benches are the same, except that it looks more worn out. Beyond the benches were a few pieces of theatrical props that were left out by those who usually used the place. I barely make it to the end of the path before it hits me again. I take deep breaths, like what they tell me. I clench my fists tightly, feeling my nails digging itself into my skin. I shake my head frantically as I take hold of myself. It was what she would have wanted for me, being the rational person she was. She would want me to get a grip. That would be expected of me from the people who were around me. It was what people wanted to see in me.

There is truly an ounce of irony in everyone’s life. The world is my stage, and although I have never had the experience of letting loose while being someone else in the theatre arts, pulling off the act of the mask has been a specialty for me.

I give hints, then laugh it off and move on to the next act.

Moving in accordance with what I wanted to project.

I spout half of the truth as I speak to people around me.

But even my demon knows it’s not completely my own.

I swear quietly to myself as I feel regret on not being able to bring my bag along with me. It had the instruments with which I could silence her. I wanted to eliminate that frustration that four years of immense denial brought me to.

The pain of the consequences that rained down on me as a result of my stupidity blew me off, along with the memories of betrayal. The immense fear of trusting engulfed me as I fell down the abyss without me being aware. Pressure that had accumulated as I strove to make up for all the things I had done. The voices started coming in, beckoning me to release the stress through other means, making me feel controlled. Even that voice has turned against me. Has shattered what wholeness had remained in me. There was nothing else that I wanted more to do, yet even I could not accomplish that. I was still bound. I am forced down to a chair as they continually tear me apart.

No one loved you.

Lies.

No one was going to care for you in the first place.

But they’re still here for me, right?

You will always be a doll, used up by others for their own pleasure. Eventually, you will be thrown away to a corner once they find someone else. That is what you are. You will always be left to your own devices. Looking around in the dark, only to be blinded by the truth they were hiding from you.

Impossible.

You just won’t accept it. You live in your own foolish fantasy. But they hate you. Did they even bother to ask why you’re here?

I clamp my hands over my ears and beg for the voice to stop murmuring them. I know that it’s not true. But the questions remained. Even as I was seated on the bench, that boy I usually talk to would not notice I was gone. He would be busy talking to the girl he just met a few days ago. The young child would be too absorbed in his book to see my fake smile. They wouldn’t see a thing. No one would see what I hid inside.

All I ever wanted to do was to break down. I wanted to hit some people in the face, maybe tell them a thing or two about how much they hurt me and left me in the dust. I nothing more than to tell people how much I wanted to be accepted not as the girl who kept smiling and laughing even in the face of danger. I wanted to be accepted as the girl who was hiding from them as she desperately yearned for the tears that wouldn’t fall because despair had become so painful that it was numb.

Taking a deep breath, I smooth down the front of my shirt. I look around and pull up the sleeves of my sweater a bit, exposing pink marks across my arm. I lightly touch it, flinching a bit at the stinging sensation.

I walk back to that place, internalizing the very being that they wanted to see.

Someone who wasn’t me.

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