The Creature

           You look at the snow on that rooftop. How it’s fermented to the shingles by the vehicle of frost. And it’s as you gaze upon it that you know, subconsciously, the snow will melt into a languid drip. The singe of the sun will return and take it in its grasp, turning into nothing but a wisp of steam. A duality exists within you: either you stare at that snow and observe its supple, unscathed surface, or you dwell on its inevitable demise.

            The creature can only exist in someone who thinks of the end. It can only writhe as a coiling, slimy eel within those who never welcomed it. And upon this epiphany of crawling, engulfing dread, the creature imprints itself further.

            It had entered through a door you know, but never had access to—never had control of. No human truly knows its depths. Yet somehow, the creature knows the door so well that it can seal it shut. And from there it can exhume its black, wretched slime about your insides, only spreading its reign.

            Other creatures spawn from this one, coming in advent because of yourself. You wouldn’t dare blame it. For, what would happen to you then?

            Some people who show their faces—their masks—around you in passing, are ailed by similar creatures. Never the same one. Never. They can provide you empathy and share a morbid, painful laugh with you. But even though a parasite plagues both of you, in reality, no one will ever know how you truly feel.

            By now, the creatures and their slime have numbed you. You’ve grown used to the torment—the cage that eats you from the very inside. And when it’s become too much, or someone pulls a word out of you in regard to this slithering creature, you talk to someone else.

            Someone who doesn’t have a clue.

            Someone who wishes, so fervently, to rip this parasite from your very organs and cut its throat with a sharp edge. They would take this burden—a burden they have no comprehension of—away from you for themselves. This person uses your body as a screen of test—a number—a bag of flesh to thwart the creature’s thrall.

            And maybe, after years and years and years and winters and so many snows, you’ve managed to kill it. It no longer draws its breath from your own. It doesn’t slither about your insides and feast on morbidity or darkness. The creature is gone.

            But its trace remains. That sludge it and its brethren had exhumed may have been peeled away from your flesh, but the stains remain. Those live on.

            And that door. The door that’s been slammed so many times in lieu of actual emotion never forgets what it’s been through. It still ponders.

            However, perhaps you can summon a smile. You can conjure the inkling of a genuine laugh. But as your lips—curled and framed by dimpled cheeks—create an expression, you realize that someone else inherited this creature.

That smile doesn’t matter.

            For, that person claws at their skin to free what lays underneath it. They would do anything to silence that creature’s cry and beckon for darkness. So, they continue to scratch away and claw and peel their flesh from bone.

            Because what’s inside has to come out.