The double of the darkness.

*disclaimer* this blog post describes feelings of depression, self harm, and suicide. if you or anyone you know struggles with any of these, reach out to 1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)

There was once a little girl who lived a normal life. She had two parents, an older brother, a younger brother, and a dog. She liked to laugh and sing and be around people where she could do both. She had fallen in love a few times, and fallen out of love just as many. She had long dark hair and legs that went on for miles. She was a normal girl with a normal life.

But.

The people in her life were not paying attention. They watched her laugh and sing, and liked the pictures of her smiling on her Instagram profile. They kept up with her love life as usual gossip, and made the mental note when they noticed the “single” status change on Facebook. They had their own lives, after all. They had their own stories and memories to make.

That is probably why no one noticed the dark man that started following her around everywhere. At first, she didn’t either. He would poke his head in her in her room at night while she scrolled down her timeline. Nodding, he would pull the door back to its original position and wait. After a while, he started riding in the back seat of her car, curious about where she worked. He would sit in the table in the back and watch as her smiles were met with drink orders and cold shoulders. She would smile all the same and drive home every night to the love song playlist she made.

But when she got home, she went to the bathroom and turned on the shower and let it run for about 15 minutes, playing the love songs playlist loud enough on her speaker that if you sat in the living room, you could hear it. She would emerge, dripping with water and smelling like flowers. Soon, the dark man wanted to know exactly what was going on in there, so the next time she wanted to run water, he slipped in while she grabbed her towel from her room. He sat on the sink and watched as she became completely naked to the love songs and stood under the shower head and ran her hands through her hair until she was satisfied by the results apparently. She sang along, danced in the shower, and mouthed words into the foggy mirror as she dried herself off with the towel from her room. So the mystery was solved but he liked the way her skin smelled so he decided he needed to be there regularly for her showers too.

She snored when she slept so he didn’t get much sleep in her closet because of the noise. He didn’t mind because he had never slept before. He didn’t even know if he could. But the night the shower mystery was solved; he didn’t walk to her closet for the night and shut the door. He stood at the foot of her bed and watched. All she did was lay there, with her eyes closed. For a really long time, she laid like this. Until her phone started singing to her, after the sun came up. This was evidently her cue to stop this nonsense. The man decided he wanted to be there for her night lying too.

The man liked the girl but she confused him. He thought and he thought about her and her actions. He thought about her singing and her laughing and how she smelled and how her breathing sounded as her eyes was closed. Her eyes were closed when it was dark.

One night, as he stood at the edge of her bed, he decided he was tired of standing up. He didn’t feel fatigued, nor had he ever. It was a more bored kind of tired. So he lay down next to the girl and he could hear her heart beating in her chest. He couldn’t believe he had spent so much time with her and yet he had never heard such a beautiful sound as this. He scooted closer until his dark skin pressed to the back of her pajama top. Still, it was not close enough.

The dark man had tasted the symphony that was her heartbeat, and there was no going back.

The dark man never left her side. He became addicted to the way her hair smelled like laughter and her heart beat sounded like love. As days turned into weeks, the dark man started to notice a change in his girl. She still had her mom, her dad, her brothers, and her dog. She went to work and made just as much money. But something wasn’t the same. She was still she, but not in the way she had been before. It seemed the closer he stood next to her, the dimmer her light shined. There was very little laughter, scarcely a smile, and NEVER a song to pass her lips anymore. Work was no longer something the man wanted to watch from his usual table. She no longer worked with a smile, and she even had to be sent home a few times for giving attitude back to rude customers. After work, she stopped listening to the love playlist she had made, but instead drove home in silence. When it was time to stand under the shower head, the girl simply started the shower, undressed and stepped in. Much sooner than before, she turned it back off. She dried herself off, but she did not dress right away. She no longer mouthed words into the mirror because the need for music had stopped weeks ago. Instead, she just stared. She pinched at her stomach, her hips, and her thighs. The dark man didn’t understand. She was beautiful to him.

Night time used to be the dark man’s favorite time he spent with his girl because she was still, and quiet, and he could hear her heart sing to him. The only problem was that the girl no longer slept. She sat, awake, with her face aglow by the night mode lighting on her phone. This was the first ounce of light he had seen on her, but somehow this light felt cheap. She stayed up as the rest of the house slept, and scrolled through other girls’ pictures who looked too good to be true. The dark man’s girl had not been his first, for he had followed the girls from Instagram around before. He knew that they too were not as happy as they filtered. He knew that they too stood in front of the mirror and saw fat that wasn’t there. He knew this but his girl didn’t. She only saw their bright happy smiles on her timeline and let her own light dim. This was not her, so the dark man no longer felt like him.

As time went on, things didn’t get better. Instead, they only got much, much worse. The dark man forgot what her favorite songs were because so much time had passed since he had heard them. She quit her job because, “people are assholes”. Shower time just got weird. The water part was the same, but that was the only consistency. She no longer stood for her showers. Instead, she lay down in the tub and didn’t move until the water no longer caused the steam. She would eventually pull herself up and turn the water off and get out. As for the self-examination in the mirror, those had stopped as well. As if she couldn’t stand the sight anymore, she had turned all the mirrors around. As if who she was seeing horrified or disgusted her.

She started wearing long sleeves, even in July. The dark man was very okay with this. He hated seeing the red, itchy scabs the girl had started acquiring on her forearms. The dark man started to wish he didn’t have the ability to smell at all. She no longer smelled of flowers, ever. Now he only smelled a smell only comparable to copper.

This behavior went on for a while, until one morning.

This particular morning, something about the dark man’s girl was different. She got out of bed, and made her little brother breakfast. She hugged and kissed her mother and father goodbye as they left for the day. Once the house was quiet, the girl calmly walked to her room, and shut the door and locked it before the dark man could follow her. So he sat against the door and waited. Just as soon as he considered knocking, she emerged from her room, and he saw it. Oh, how he had daydreamed of this sight for months. He would have waited a million more months, for that smile. There was this calm, peaceful presence about her that made him feel like everything might just be able to go back to the way things had been before. He was so ready to start hearing love songs again, and from her lips even. She might start smiling more often, maybe even laughing some. She could get her old job back, and they could ride to work together like they used to. He hadn’t sat in his usual booth in so long; hopefully it would be available for her next shift.

As the dark man followed the girl from her room, he didn’t stop to ask himself why they were in the bathroom. The girl never took showers in the morning, and her hair was still slightly wet from her shower the night before. This was very much unusual behavior.

The girl opened her bathroom cabinet and pulled out what the dark man hated most in the whole world. He hated seeing what it did to her arms at night, and he especially hated how it always seemed to leave a trace of the smell of copper in the air. The girl walked to the tub, pulled back the curtain, and stepped in. She was fully clothed, and the dark man was growing more and more confused by the second. The tub was big enough for them to lie side by side so the man sat down next to his girl and put his arm around her.

Oh, how he had loved her laugh, he had loved her voice, her light. It was everything he never had and everything he had always wanted. The girl pulled back her sleeves and made very large cuts on both wrists, vertically. These were the largest and deepest by far that the dark man had ever seen. And then, finally, she looked at him. He looked into her eyes and what he saw startled him. The darkness he saw in her was so familiar because it was what he saw every time he saw himself in the reflection in a car window or a pair of sunglasses. He saw himself. He had loved every part of her because she was not him.  Her eyes were blank and dark, but her mouth still forming that smile. Only now, the smile didn’t remind the man of sunshine. It reminded him of wildfire. He no longer recognized his girl, and he began to silently weep. She laid her head down on his chest, and he could hear her heart beat play him one last, slow symphony before the curtains came down and all he could see was red.