Whispers and the Roars

By: K. Webster


The Past

When my eyes are closed, the monster can’t see me.

When I sing a song in my head, the monster can’t hear me.

When I pretend my bedroom is a playground where I play hide-and-seek, the monster can’t find me.

The darkness should frighten me.

I should worry I’ll find more monsters…monsters scarier than him.

But I’m not afraid.

It’s safe here.

When I’m inside of my head…

He. Can’t. Ever. Touch. Me.

* * *


The Present

The sick stench of stale cigarettes and cheap beer lingers in the air. I can always tell when he’s been by looking for me. Clues are scattered about the house—as if he leaves them on purpose. To taunt and fuck with me. A half-empty pack of cigs. A tipped, dripping can of Budweiser crushed and discarded on the kitchen table. His name carved into the wood beside the can. Sharp. Edgy. Imperfect. Norman.

Beads of sweat form on my upper lip, and I rush to the front door in an effort to breathe without breathing him in. The moment I swing it open, a cool late spring breeze whips inside around me, lifting my damp hair off my sticky neck.

I can’t believe I managed to stay away while he was here. I’m always afraid he’ll find me. That he’ll drag me up to my bedroom, pull my sweaty clothes from my thin frame, and terrorize me like he’s been doing since I was old enough to utter the word “daddy.”

A squawk from the horn of a bike causes me to jolt from my daze, and I awkwardly wave at Christopher, a twelve-year-old kid from up the street. He waves back, but I notice the way his legs work harder to propel his bike past my house. Away…from me. Christopher, like most of my neighbors, dislikes me. Some may even fear me, which is ridiculous. I’m just a broken twenty-nine-year-old. Not a monster.

A recluse. I’ll give them that.

At one point in time, I wasn’t. At one time, someone could pull me from my sad world, show me that shards of light could shine through, and let me feel true love. Life, at one time, was as perfect as life could be for me. At one time, I’d had hope.

But then he left me too.

Not that I can blame him. I would’ve left me too if I were him. It still hurt, though. No, it fucking gutted me to my core. Actually, there isn’t even a way to describe what I felt the moment he was gone.

A part of me died.

Burned and charred, then simply blown away ash by ash the next time a breeze rolled on by.

My belly growls and I wonder if Aunt Suzy or Agatha have been by the grocery store yet. Money is tight these days, but Aunt Suzy is a hard-core coupon cutting queen. She somehow manages to feed this wild family on a tiny budget provided by the state and my meager earnings. If things get too rough, Officer Joe always stops by with burgers or a loaf of bread and some peanut butter. He was the responding officer that night the shit hit the fan. And twenty years later, he still checks up on his favorite Kady Bug.

I may be a lonely woman, but I have some amazing people who look after me.

Too bad the one I miss the most ran off to Yale University. Left his girlfriend to pursue a career. Stole my heart right from my chest.

You would have held him down, Kady. He was meant to soar.

Tears well in my eyes, but I blink them away. It’s easy to forget I’m the one who encouraged him to leave. To follow his dreams—dreams that didn’t involve me. I was a fungus. Growing and festering. Turning his brilliant parts black with the disease otherwise known as me. When you’re a woman who suffers from depression and PTSD, among other disorders, you learn that you’re the problem. That you’re the source of nightmares. That you’re a black plague who only sickens the well around you.

And my poor, sweet boy was becoming sickened. He was sick in love. His father hated me for it and was disappointed in his son. I couldn’t bear to see the one I love—the one who always smiled brilliantly just for me—frown and ponder. To see his eyes cloud over and become distant as he thought about what he was giving up. For me.

I made the decision for him, so he wouldn’t have to. He wouldn’t even choose air or food or water over me. And that’s exactly why he couldn’t stay. I’d poisoned him, but it wasn’t too late. I could fix it.

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