A Letter to the Shadow
While I was on the beach in San Diego with my dogs, enjoying the surf and the sunset, you were in the dark woods, near the mouth of the hush place. You laid azaleas at the foot of the obsidian statue of Baphomet, and knelt with a bowl of reflected black stars to try to divine the future. And you told me, rather urgently, that you needed me to come join you. That together we needed to complete the ritual to seal ourselves into the darkness.
I keep trying to tell you - I'm not into that esoteric shit anymore. I want to exist in reality, where physics is the only magic. I've seen time and time again that the spells never work.
But at night it's easy to forget, when I return from the light and you return from the dark, and we curl together in bed, with your cold breath and your soft downy arms.
It's easy to forget how much you've hurt me.
Do you remember when we were child, and I'd plant a seed, only for you to tear out the root when it grew? I'd put bugs in a glass jar. You'd suffocate them. You were behind me every step, and your sneakers sounded like hooves. You cast a cold, long shadow across my body, so that even in the sunshine I shivered. When I fell in love with a boy, I found you kissing him in the back of my P.T. Cruiser, your breasts exposed in the moonlight, urging him to disappear inside you.
When you smiled smoke streamed out of your mouth. You always looked hungry.
But you know this already. I don't need to recount a long and detailed account of what you've done.
I defy you with a smile. And my teeth have grown almost as sharp as yours. You tell me to wither away, so I eat. You tell me to be weak, so I lift weights. You tell me to go to sleep, stop writing, so I stay awake until my eyes are cracked staring at the page. You tell me I can't, so I say that I can.
You still make me cry. Often. Your weight pushes down into my chest and you breathe poison into my open mouth. But one day you won't be able to make me cry anymore.
My sun is almost as big as your moon now. The fortress where you live in the woods is old, and sturdy, but I know the secret passageways into its cellar. And one day I'm going to climb up the stairs, past the jars of formaldehyde, and slide behind your throne made of crystal and hardened sugar and steel and whisper into your ear like you used to whisper into mine. I will be the ruler of this body, not you. I will head out into the sun and breathe clear and pet animals and bury my toes into sand and you will shrink inside of me. You will wither on your throne, and I won't miss you at all.
Here's a spell for you. My last one ever. It's a simple incantation: Fuck. You.
So why do I find myself in the woods, searching for the altar?
It didn't take much to bring me back here. A little life crisis. A whispered threat. An askew look in the mirror. In a moment of weakness you slip back into the crevices of my mind, hypnotize me into motion.
I don't remember tying the black ribbon around these wilting flowers, or putting on my tattered coat - the one in the back of the closet that you once rubbed your face against, the one that smells like wild animal blood and goat fur. I don't remember walking down here, past the chilled stream, past the tree that has a trunk that kind of looks like an exhausted skull. It comes to me in pieces, like fragments of dreams, my journey out here.
I've only been in these woods for a few hours, but it's like I've forgotten that warmth even exists. My hands are blue and no matter how much I huddle inside my jacket, I can't get warm.
You're waiting for me by the altar of Baphomet, trying to appear pious but grinning from ear to ear. You tell me to come closer, but instead of kneeling I drop the flowers and jump on your back to bite you. We wrestle in the dirt, crushing the bowl of stars, crushing the flowers. You rake your nails against my cheek. I try to scratch your eyes. You're still smiling. Eventually I became exhausted, but you still seemed to have strength. You pinned me down into the dirt. Your eyes are gleaming and your sharpened teeth shine in the moonlight.
"You'll never get rid of me," you said.
And I knew you were right.
I could get rid of my possessions and clothes, my family, my sanity, my dreams, my hope. But I could never get rid of you. Not as long as I continue to breathe.
When you kissed me your lips felt like the sticky sap on trees. And wherever you touched me I burned it was so cold. I shivered, and your fingerprints left welts against my skin.
But I let you in. Again.
I always do.
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