As the endless beeping of my alarm fills my dark bedroom, I grapple with the realization that I’m going to have to stand up to another day of life. Another day of facing back-handed remarks and disappointment from my parents. Another day of countless insults, being the wippingboy of my school bus and classes. Another failed attempt at trying to impress the girl I like, watching her walk away with another man. All of it makes me feel like a sailor having gone overboard out at sea, in the midnight hour. Adrift in a sea of black, slowly accepting that my end is soon coming.
As I put on my shoes, I prepare myself to enter the wooded path, and come face to face with that entity, that Shade. The being which awaits for me every night outside, beckoning me to it like a moth to flame. On one hand, it terrifies the shit out of me. I realize if I succumb to it’s seduction, I will enter the endless void. Perhaps though, that endless void is preferable to the constant trials and tribulations I must endure on a daily basis. I will be at peace, no longer worrying about what hardship the next day brings. If I surrender now though, I will never know what the future held for me. I have to push on. I can never stare, never stop.
As I make my way down the path, with leaves crunching beneath my feet with every step, it’s there, peaking out at me from just behind a tree. It wears my face, but it’s also unknown. As we look eye-to-eye, it’s gaze makes me feel as if someone’s groping around inside my skull. It speaks to me, begging me to surrender to the eternal rest. It promises an end to the never ending war. My eyes begin to tear up, part of my soul wants to accept the offer, but I cannot. I must go on, for the future is unknown. I can never stare, never stop.
As I stand waiting for the school bus, I can hear the other kids waiting alongside me whispering to each other. Insults about my appearance, my outfit, my very being, travel through the air from one person’s mouth to another person’s ear. Once again, the question as to why I choose to remain in this world begins growing in my brain like cancer in a life-long smoker’s lungs. Finally, the bus arrives over the horizon in the distance, and the thought of having to return to school once again conjures feelings of an impending doom inside of me.
I board the school bus and take my seat. As the large, yellow beast begins to pull away from the bus stop, I look out my window, and am greeted by the sight of the Shade watching me from the tree-line. It’s going to follow me to school. It always does. No matter where I go, it matters not. The Shade will follow me, always. Yet another reason why I must never stare, and never stop.
On the bus, the cruelty continues. As I sit, playing music in my ears, a ball of paper hits the back of my head. I don’t turn around, as I know that will only fuel the demons further. I blast the music, heavy metal, in my ears, as even that is preferable to the insults, which cut into me like razor blades. As we pull up to the school, a knot begins forming itself in the pit of my stomach. I look out towards the woods to see The Shade, realizing that even if I wanted it’s cold embrace now, it’s too late. I must endure eight hours of Hell.
The relief of the afternoon school bell fills me with happiness. School is over, and I may now return home and choose if I want to take The Shade up on it’s offer. On the ride home, The Shade is absent. It’s absent because I am happy at this moment. As I near my bus-stop, the demons at the back of the bus begin hurling a barrage of poison at me, but I do not care. There is a very good chance I will go with The Shade tonight, and there will not be another time I must put up with them.
I enter my home on Friday afternoon, and everything is fine. The Shade has gone on temporary vacation as I have no school for the next two days. I sit in my bedroom, calmly playing some Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, when I notice I have two missed calls on my cellphone. I read they were both received from my aunt, so I quickly give her a call back. Quite coldly and calmly, my aunt tells me that my cousin has killed herself. Shortly after, our conversation concludes. I sit there on my bed, feeling as if I’m going to puke.
I think about all the times we had together. She tried to eat my nose when we were both three. Us going to the beach together at five. Having sleep-overs and staying up late watching scary movies at seven. Playing Halo together at ten. Entering highschool together at fifteen. And now, she is gone. Forever. Our last conversation was something which I could not even remember due to it’s unimportance.
As I sit in my dark room in utter silence, I receive a text message from my girlfriend of two years. She plainly tells me: “This isn’t going to work. It’s over. Goodbye.”
The person who I cared for most on this planet, the girl who had met and loved my entire family, the girl who I thought was likely to be my future wife and mother of my children, ended it all…….with a text message.
Suddenly, The Shade is right before me, at the foot of my bed. It’s holding a bottle of blood-thinners in one hand, and a bottle of vodka in the other. It warmly hands them both to me, laying it’s hand on my shoulder as I sit with the items in my lap, sobbing uncontrollably. I turn, and I stare into its eyes. It says no words, but it talks to me. It says this is the moment.
I did stare, and I did stop, and it nearly cost me my life.