"What in Lucifer's name is going on?!" Tat stares in disbelief.
Steven had avoided the speeding truck by mere inches. People rush over to make sure he was fine. Some of them even had the nerve to praise his "luck." Tat was at a loss for words. It should have been a straightforward possession. Steve dies, Tat returns to hell, and he gets to enjoy torturing Steve in the afterlife. Just another Tuesday! This was different though. It was almost like there was a wall stopping Steve from making that last step that would have turned him into a pancake.
"Damn him!" Tat exclaims.
As he quarrels with himself the rest of the crowd dissipates, save for one woman. Steve and "she" were making small talk, and "she" seemed very enamored by Steve.
Tat grimaced, "Oh, great! Now he's talking it up with this harlot. That's really great Steve. I try to get you killed and instead you bump into..."
Tat's attention is derailed by something glistening just slightly above them. Just above "she," an angel with silver hair fluttered about.
"Titch... I should have known!" He growled.
"Hello, Tat. It's been a while." Titch exclaimed, with a smile.
What business does a guardian angel have interfering with the business of demons? Thought Tat. At that moment Steve and "she" began moving down the sidewalk towards a coffee shop.
"No matter, I'll make his day a living hell. By the end of it he'll want to off himself." Tat sneered. He watched as Titch haphazardly followed behind.
"Don't you have a baby to save from drowning?" Tat barked.
Titch giggled, "Oh Tat... I go where I am needed, and it is obvious I am needed here."
Tat shuddered with frustration. Guardian angels have the power of luck on their side just as he had the power of misfortune. Neither one of them could really make anything happen, but instead it was a random occurrence. Ever stub your toe on the door-frame? That was Tat's doing. He didn't know what was going to happen, but he knew it would piss you off.
As Steve and "she" prattled on about nothing of consequence Tat focused on his surroundings and released a wave of misfortune. As Steve attempted to put his coffee cup down he instead knocked it onto his lap. He wildly wiped at his lap which caused him to stumble out of his chair. Tat rolled with laughter at Steve's predicament. Not only had he caused him pain, but he also made him look like an idiot in front of "she." No doubt, any second "she" would be walking out.
"WHAT?!" Tat bellowed.
"She" kneeled down to help Steve up with the deepest look of concern on her face. Steve reassured her he was fine, and he remarked about how he's, for once, glad the place's coffee isn't as hot as he usually likes it. The two of them shared a laugh and head out the door while Tat stays behind in bewilderment.
“Beth, Dr. Morris will see you now,” the receptionist says.
Beth stands and looks down at me with her face filled with worry. I give her an assuring smile and squeeze her hand gently. She smiles back, lets out a deep sigh, and slowly makes her way towards the psychiatrist’s office. I follow closely behind her and as she takes a seat, I take one in the chair next to her. Dr. Morris’s room is pretty much what I had expected. There are several book cases on either side filled with different psychological texts, board games, and strange looking knickknacks that are hard to identify.
“Hello again Beth, it’s good to see you.” Dr. Morris says warmly.
“Hello, sir.” Beth manages to mumble out.
Dr. Morris glances over to me and thinks for a moment. It makes me feel a bit uneasy, as though I maybe shouldn’t be here now. Before I can offer to step out he finally speaks up, “It’s good to see you as well Gary.”
“Likewise, Doctor,” I say as I look over at Beth.
She looks over at me and relaxes a bit. She hates when people judge her and, because of me, she is constantly being judged. That’s why I convinced her to come here. It took a few months, but she had been suffering for a long time. We’ve been together ever since we were kids, and I hated seeing her hurt like that. All I want is to see her smile.
“How about we start with the two of you. When did you first meet?”
He grabs a pen and begins taking notes. Beth looks down at the floor, but another sweet smile spreads across her face. Unlike the doctor, I can also see the pain hidden behind that beautiful smile that rarely peeks from behind her usual blank stare. Beth is a bit of a recluse, so it’s difficult for her to make any friends. It’s always just been the two of us. Even as kids she didn’t trust anyone other than me.
Beth takes another deep breath and begins, “Well… I was five, and I remember sitting in the sandbox of the trailer park’s playground area. Mommy was sleeping off a cocktail of vodka and painkillers. She had just finished throwing me against the wall for spilling cereal on the floor. Everything I did seemed to offend her, and now I know it’s because she blamed me for daddy leaving.” Beth looks over at me and I give her a look of encouragement.
“I see, but you know that what your father did was wrong, right Beth?” The doctor looks at her intently. “He was the one to blame, not you.”
Her father had sexually abused her, and when she told her teacher at school they reported it to the police. It was decided that her mother could keep her because she claimed to have no knowledge of it taking place, but she had known. She was just too stupid and selfish to admit it to herself. Still, she had blamed Beth up until she died from an overdose. It was something that they had discussed in past sessions, and she had only recently stopped blaming herself for it.
Beth nods, “I know… and my mom was wrong for allowing it to happen, too.”
Dr. Morris gives her a warm smile, “That’s right.”
As Beth continued talking I thought back to that day. Like Beth said, she was sitting in the sandbox crying. I noticed her from afar, and right away I knew she was in trouble. I didn’t know if I could even help, but I knew that I could try.
“What’s wrong?” I asked as I kneeled to sit next to her.
“I made another mistake, and mommy punished me,” she said through sobs.
“I’m sorry…” I looked down at our feet, not knowing what to say.
We sat there for a few hours, and I offered my company, knowing that was all I could offer to her. I talked to her about my ideas of making a fort in the middle of the woods nearby. She said she liked the idea of a castle better than a fort, so I told her it could be our castle. That she could be a princess while I could be a knight. I told her she could go there any time the dragon tried to get her, and I would always protect her.
The next couple of days we spent gathering materials to build our castle. Her mother barely noticed because all she ever did was sleep off the alcohol. When she wasn’t, she would leave Beth alone while she went out to bars. We preferred it that way and for the longest time, it was just the two of us and our castle in the woods.
The months flew by, and Beth made great progress with Dr. Morris. He convinced her to get her GED and even to enroll in community college. She had even made a few friends and suddenly started spending less time at her aunt’s house. She didn’t have as much time to spend with me either, but I didn’t mind. For the first time in our lives, she was truly happy. Today was her last weekly session as she was going to start monthly treatment with him only to ensure she is making progress.
“It’s time Beth.” Dr. Morris says warmly.
Panic swept over Beth. “But doctor… I still don’t understand why.”
Dr. Morris places a hand on her shoulder and turns her to face me. “Because you don’t need him anymore. You’ve made amazing progress over the last year, and Gary is all that is keeping you tied to the pains of your past.”
I look over at the doctor, a bit confused. I admit, Beth was doing better than anyone ever imagined she could, but I didn’t understand what the two of them were talking about. Sure, she hadn’t had much time for me in a couple of months, but anytime she needed me I would sit there and listen just as I always did.
Tears swell up in her eyes, “But I love him…”
Dr. Morris gives her an empathetic look. “He’s not real Beth.”
I laugh out of disbelief. “What the hell are you talking about, I’m standing right here!”
I look over to Beth who looks down at her feet. The sadness and the shame across her face causes Dr. Morris’s words to burn through me like a forest set ablaze. What did he mean that I wasn’t real?! I had been there for her for over a decade! I still sat with her every night to make sure she slept okay. I was there first thing in the morning to make sure she was ready for the day. When she had doubts, and fears, I would comfort her and assure her that she was strong enough to get through it. I was her knight and she was my princess!
Dr. Morris continues, “You must let go, Beth. He will only keep you from progressing.”
I had enough. Certainly, breaking off our friendship was not something she wanted, and I needed him to understand that. As I reach out to grab him by his shoulder my hand passes through him as though he wasn’t even there. I look down at my hands and notice that they are slowly becoming transparent, and the realization finally hits me. It’s not him, it’s me. I’m not real.
“I’m so sorry Gary…” Beth says through sobs.
I look to her and all I see is the little girl I met all those years ago. Scared, overcome with grief, and so unsure of life. I don’t like it and it hurts to see her like that. Because of me, she was regressing backward, and all of that progress was slowly slipping away. I need her to be okay, and if that meant I had to leave then so be it. After all, a knight would do anything to protect his princess.
I shake my head and smile brightly thought the tears were building up in my own eyes. “Don’t be sad Beth.” I make way over and wrap my arms around her. “You know I hate it when you cry.”
“I can’t help it. I love you so much…”
I sigh a bit and close my eyes. “I love you too, and I always will.”
She sobs heavily and attempts to wrap her arms around me. Instead, they go through me as she wraps them around herself. “I need you, Gary.”
I let out a cry, but I attempt to keep my composure, “Even if you can’t see me, I’m always going to be in your heart. I’ll be there when you’re laughing and having fun with your friends. I’ll be there when you meet that special guy and you feel your heart fluttering about like a butterfly. I’ll be there on those days when you’re filled with uncertainty and you just don’t know how you’ll manage to get through it. I know you will though because I will always protect my princess.”
The two of us stand there and allow ourselves to appreciate all we’ve done for one another. I may have been the one who helped her through her darkest times, but because of her, I could walk beside her. She gave me life and purpose. I admit, I’m scared of what’s going to happen, but there is a sureness about what I said to her that helps to soothe me. As I lean in to kiss her on her cheek I suddenly feel myself slip away from existence.
Note: This story was written for my creative writing course as was meant to be written in a fractured style. You will notice that it's written as if it were told from the perspective of a child, and that was by design.
I took a walk one dark stormy day. My mother and I got into a fight, and so I decided to leave. I took the path from my house that goes through the back. It leads to the forest. It was a dark forest, but I wasn't scared. It was cold, I wore a jacket, it was blue. Along the way I saw numerous small creatures scurrying about. I even saw a fox. It was a cute fox, and I love foxes. He got scared and ran away. I thought I was being followed, but I couldn't be sure. I was always paranoid when I was alone because I watched a lot of scary movies. I looked around, but there was nobody there. Just me and the forest.
So I kept walking along the path, in my blue jacket, through the dark forest, and I was still angry. And a little bit scared now. I was scared that a monster or a murderer would grab me. The idea I was starting to sound very stupid at this point. Did mom learn her lesson yet? Maybe I should go back? It was starting to get darker now, but I continued on. Through the forest, in my blue jacket, all alone, on a dark stormy evening.
Then, I heard the rustling of leaves. Another fox, maybe? No, it was big, scary, and staring at me from the tangle of trees. There was a collection of rocks, and the rocks were covered in trees. A cave? It had big eyes; the monster, not the cave. He, or maybe she, just stood there and stared. What a rude monster! Mom told me it was rude to stare once, but maybe the monster didn't have a mom to tell him it was rude. I should tell him. So I yell “You're being rude!” at him, or was it a her, but he continued to stare. Then he grinned, with those big sharp teeth. A wolf? No, too big to be a wolf. So I ran.
I ran so fast and hard. My lungs felt like they were on fire. My legs felt like gelatin, and my face stung from the cold rain. Rain? Oh right, it started to rain. The wind picked up at that point, and I began to slow down. It was pushing me back. The ground was shaking. The monster was now following me. I didn't look back. I didn't want to see it. The last face I'd ever see; knowing he, or she, would eat me. I was in a clearing now, on the hill that overlooks my house. Mom was looking around. She looked worried.
Before I could call out I felt a sharp pain in my back. It hurt a lot. A tree branch hit me. I tumbled from the impact. I rolled down the hill away from my house. Just my luck. No way she'd hear me now. Not that she could. The wind was so loud. The rain beginning to fall heavily. I gasped as the wind got knocked out of me. There was no way I could move. I wonder if I broke my bones? Shouldn't it hurt more? I couldn't feel anything. Not even the pain in my back. Not anymore. Still I tried to call out. Nothing came out. Just gasping, and strangled mewing. I like cats. That's what I sounded like, a cat. A poor, broken, helpless, scared, cat in the middle of the woods on a dark stormy evening.
The sun is going away now. It's night. It feels like forever, but nothing's there. Just me, in my blue jacket, covered in blood. It was sticky, and hot. The blood, not my jacket. Well, some of my jacket that had blood on it. I could feel it dripping down my back. Along with intense pain. I could feel again. I tried to push myself up, but I felt dizzy. I wanted to throw up. I did throw up. I cried, because I was scared. Very scared. Still, I could stand and walk. I dragged myself over the hill. The storm was really howling then. It was so cold. I was really cold. I could see my house, but my mom wasn't outside anymore. Just the field, the crops, and the monster. Oh no, the monster! He, or she, was making its way towards our house. Mom didn't know. I had to warn her.
I slowly dragged myself towards the house. I slipped. It was really muddy. I nearly hit a tree, but I was closer to my house now. I stood, and I dragged. So much pain. It hurt, a lot. I tried to pick up speed, but I heard a snap. My leg? No, I could still walk. I turn to look over my shoulder. It was a tree branch. I look around for the monster. He, or she, was on the roof now. It couldn't seem me. Not that it was paying any attention. It was trying to pry a window open. My brother's bedroom window. Oh no, my brother! No, he was at his friend's house. Stuck, probably, because of the storm. The storm didn't seem like it was letting up. Broken and tattered, I continued on in the dark stormy night.
I got closer, but no sign of the monster. I looked at my brother's window, and their were claw marks all over the outside. No monster though. Maybe it got bored? The storm might have scared it. I didn't like lightening or thunder. I make my way to the back poor. The door is swinging open. It's banging on the outside of the house. The wind is really strong. I pull myself up the stairs. So much pain. No, I have to warn mom. I finally make it up the steps. I have to catch my breath. It was hard. I was tired. I slam the door shut. I lock it.
It was quiet now. I could hear the wind and rain, but it was faint. I tried to call out again, but still only mewing. I coughed up blood. It hurt, a lot. I continue to drag myself through the house. Is she in the kitchen? No, the light was off. Was she in the living room? No, just the TV playing the news. The storm was really bad. It was going to get worse. I make my way to the stairs, and I hear a loud thump. Mom? Or maybe the monster. I couldn't move, I was numb again. I shamble over to the cough. I fall on it. It felt good to lay down again. It was warm. It comforted me. I want my mom. I passed out.
Then, it was quiet. I could hear a lot of talking. I was too tired. I kept sleeping. The monster, I have to warn mom. I force my eyes open. The sudden flood of light blinds me. My eyes hurt. Everything hurts. I struggle to look around. I'm in my bed. I'm covered in bandages. My mom is holding my hand. Mom! “Mommy, you're here!” She looks at me. She's surprised. She was sleeping. She hugs me tight and tells me she loves me. I love her too. I tell her about the monster. She says there isn't a monster. She says I must have hit my head hard when I was out playing. I wasn't playing. She leaves to get me food. I'm hungry.
I look out my window at the woods. Mom said I wouldn't be able to go out for some time. I broke several bones. I almost died. That was scary. Not as scary as the monster. He, or she, was staring at me from the woods. I looked over at it. I was scared still. It was waving. Was it a nice monster? I gave a slight wave back. It turned and went back in to the dark woods. That's the last time I saw it. I even went back to his, or her, home. It was months later. Nothing in the cave. Just an empty nest. We moved after that. It was to the city. I will never forget the day I saw the monster.