The light in my sitting room was not as I remembered it, but this is not the right place to start the story.
When I went to work this morning, it was bright, the whole room lit by the early morning sun. It was inviting, refreshing, normal.
I arrived back at six-thirty pm, put on my shorts, trainers, knee brace and faded white t-shirt, and jogged around the local park. Some days the park can be silent, others, like today, it can be littered with people.
I don’t like running when others can see me. I’m not some Adonis, who’d turn heads and relish the attention. I’m overweight and despise being noticed. That’s why I run. I’d run first thing in the morning if I could get myself out of bed.
I ran around the park, listening to the voice from the app tell me my progress. I need that. Need the commentary telling me how well I’m doing, even though the voice is pretty nonplussed at what I would consider a Herculean effort.
Two laps equal one kilometre. Doesn’t seem much, but after the first lap, the second seems massive. I managed it though, ran all the way to five kilometres, then stopped running, stopped the app and let it know it was an awesome run, mainly as there was no option to say I felt like throwing up. I shared it to anyone who might’ve cared.
Not many do. It was nice of my parents to join social media to support me, but the fact I’m their only friend, and they haven’t even friended each other, indicates just how desperate I really was.
I walked back to the house, which welcomed me as it has done for the last two years; empty.
I showered, though the unpredictability of its’ temperature made this more of a chore than a relief, dried myself on a towel that should have been washed a couple of weeks back, and dressed in slacks and a t-shirt which is basically my pyjamas. The clock in the kitchen read seven twenty-five. Not even half-past seven, and I was ready for bed.
Ten minutes later, I was reclined in the chair with a cup of tea, switching the television on and everything else off. Another evening.
Typically, for it happens more often than not, I woke with a start and noticed the television had turned itself off, the sun had set, and the windows were now portals into the darkness outside. I sat and stared through the glass unblinking, looked at my phone for the time, and sighed when it only displayed five minutes past nine.
I got up and closed the curtains, reheated my tea in the microwave, and turned on the second lamp, a gift from my parents which they’d sent straight to me; no point visiting now the internet had been invented. The lamp was surrounded with long, dark twigs that gave off odd, streaked, light with black shadows. It looked very dramatic. Definitely my mother’s choice.
The tea tasted the same. I stood in the kitchen and drank it without realising and was almost surprised when I surfaced from my thoughts to find the cold tiles beneath my bare feet. I made another cup of tea and went back to the recliner.
I picked up the book from the floor beside the chair and turned to the page whose corner I’d carefully folded over at some point in the past. I skimmed from the top of the page, expecting to find my place, to recognise some of the sentences, but couldn’t. The whole page was a mystery to me. That sometimes happens if I’m tired when I’m reading, and most of the time I am.
I folded the corner back over and returned the novel to the floor.
I could feel sleep coming in at the edges, wanting to take me again. I put a cushion behind my head and shut my eyes.
When I woke for the third time that day, the light in the room was different. I waited, still, just moving my eyes around the room to try and work out what exactly had changed. It didn’t take me long. It was the shadows. They were darker, more defined. It might possibly be something another person wouldn’t have noticed, but I did.
At school, I didn’t really join in any playground games. I was an outsider. People would quieten when I walked past. I’d look up and notice groups of people looking at me, talking about me. It was okay. It wasn’t as if I’d have anything to say to them.
Even in the classroom, the teachers tended not to ask me any questions, even when I summoned the courage to put up my hand.
If no-one talks to you, you begin to think you’re not worth talking to.
The shadows on the wall moved. I’ve sometimes noticed this effect if there’s a moth trapped near the bulb. They can’t get out. They fly too close to the heat, and they die. Before they die, however, they make the light flutter.
But this was not the machinations of some dying insect. The shadows were moving on their own.
“What do you want?” I asked them. My throat felt dry, and it was a struggle to get all the words out.
The shadows moved on the wall, soundlessly.
“I can’t help you,” I said to them. “I am no-one. I am weak.”
The shadows moved again. Off to the right, in the dining room, the lights from the Internet router grew brighter. Too bright. I could feel the heat from them on my face, and that couldn’t be right, because they were only LED lights.
I wanted to get up, to move the recliner into its normal sitting position, but it was melodramatically stuck.
From the kitchen, another light blinked on. This was the light in the oven hood, a light which I usually found soothing, but now found unsettling. This light pulsed high then low, high then low.
“Is there something you need me to do?” I asked the lights, but they ignored me.
The landing light upstairs blinked.
I shook my head. Perhaps I was still asleep. That would make sense. My dreams are often like this. Often filled with dangerous rooms, and unfathomable patterns. Could I be asleep in my chair, still?
I tried with everything I had to open my eyes. I’ve been able to wake myself up before, but this time, there was nothing. I was already awake.
It could be the electrics. I sighed. Of course, it could be. It was an old house, and bulbs blow at least once a week. Sometimes, I have to reset the breaker on the fuse box. It must be the electrics. Perhaps water had got into them and was causing them to short out. That would still be dangerous, but it would be better.
If it was just the electrics, it meant there would be no-one to speak to, no-one wanting me to come home.
A light came on beneath the chair. That was odd. There was no light beneath the chair. Did that discount the electrics? It was hard to think rationally. I was too scared. I’ve been scared for a very long time.
At the end of each school day there would be the same group of children stood by the gate waiting for me to pass by, and, every day, they would call at me, push me. Sometimes they threw their uneaten food from their lunches at me.
I’d just kept walking. They wanted me to fight back. Looking back now, I suppose these were the trolls before the internet happened.
I would walk and keep walking, and if they followed me, I’d just keep walking until they grew bored and left me alone.
Then I would go back home, and I would wait until the next day came, and have to do it all again.
“What do you want from me?” I asked again into the room. “Do you want me to come home?”
The lights paused for a moment, then continued moving. I thought that might be it. It was them, calling me home.
You see, when I was born, I fell to the Earth in a million pieces. I fell, and I fell, and in truth I never stopped. I was the first god, and every creature, whether consciously or not, believed in me. It’s easy to believe in something you can see.
I fell and fell. Grew stronger and stronger. I could see everything. I was the light people could see by. But falling wasn’t enough, and I wanted more, so part of me fell and stayed. I was a light trapped in the darkness of the world. People would look at me, but not understand me.
I am forever.
The light in the room grew stronger, and I realised the light was me, calling me home. It had come to collect me. I raised my arms, to it. Raised my face to the ceiling. I had had enough. It was time to leave and they knew it. They had come to call me.
Once those boys pushed me and I fell too hard. I broke. But that was when they saw me as my true self. The God of Light. Everlasting. I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t look like this.
I pick up my book, and I read the page, again.