The Shadow Tale, Part 1: How To Make a Monster

there was an empty part that needed to be filled
I didn't volunteer;
I had left the theatre early
disappointed with bad seating
and vicious ushers
but I was still forced to play.

Not to my knowledge.
Of course not.

Who willingly plays the Witch, the Monster?
The Bitch.

I didn't exit stage left, because
I never stepped on the boards.
I stayed at home,
slept wrapped in a cocoon of forced secret fear
and viscera-shattering pain.

The most important thing, then,
in that time where the numbers were all doubles,
was trying to stay alive.

But someone had to play the Monster,
of course.
What is a story without an adversary?
How can one be self-righteous without the unrighteous?

[Bitter, bitter, more bitter than the dark black coffee
the man who saved my life drinks,
more bitter than the darkest chocolate,
more bitter than any simple little pleasure we share.

Revenge and regret, two sides of the same coin,
a coin I am admittedly
clutching so tightly in my fist
that its feral edges bite into the fragility of my skin
and my blood runs like a symphony.

There is nothing pleasant about this.This is blood-letting.]

While I sat locked away from the world,
writing soft stories about heroines who run away
who leave the Antagonist to antagonise someone
(or something)
I was also the Monster.

If you can't find something vile enough,
search through your imagination, but --
pull away at the last minute.
Do not be fooled: too wild an idea will never take root.
Start simple.

Start with your monster being a whiner.
[I was crying as I washed my own blood off my hands.]
Escalate, make your monster violent.
[I kept slamming my hands over my ears, savage to the point of bursting eardrums.]
Finally, make your monster a true predator.
Turn its own suffering around in a sick circle:
Make your monster a rapist.

I know the heaviness of that word.
I know because with each breath I take, with every word I say,
that word is not far behind it.
My body is no longer broken, but
that doesn't stop my mind from freezing at certain touches,
readying to flee when a certain body comes too close to mine,
from flinching at the casual jokes.

The child that would have been,
the child of vodka and violence and fear,
came away in a rush of blood two months later,
and I felt like a murderer for years.

There are scars on my body that nobody can see,
and that time has no power to heal.

They are still wounds.

All the while you do this, make sure that you make your monster a fool.
Smile at it.
Be kind to it.
Value its feelings and input.

Or don't.

Lie about it behind its back.
Spread rumours.
Snarl. Ignore it. Forget that it is,

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