I didn’t know him, but I met him in a coffee shop just as it was about to close. We had to go to a bar instead. He was well dressed in a coat and smart shoes and underneath the coat he had on a blue ribbed woollen jumper. He was tall but he was smaller than I had imagined. His torso was very narrow and I noticed he had particularly small hands. His hair was dark, his eyes darker. He had this habit of cocking his head to one side, or did I imagine that?
At times I found him so handsome, I had to look away, at other times his face seemed too angular. He attracted me and repulsed me in equal measure. It was confusing.
We talked a great deal and I found we shared many interests. We talked about music, films, books and he even knew some of the obscure films and musicians that most other people had no interest in. If I could have written him on paper before I met him, I couldn’t have described a man that was more my type, yet there was something very boyish about him, but I have always liked that.
Now, the way things have turned out, I do wonder at myself for asking for him to come into my life. That is the thing about asking for things; you have to make sure you don’t leave certain things out. I asked for a handsome man who made my insides burn. I asked for an intelligent man who would challenge me. He is all of those things, I got exactly what I wanted, but that is not all that he is. There are other things about him that I didn’t ask for, but I didn’t stipulate that I didn’t want those things. Heaven knows, that I simply did not consider that he could be … what he is. God help my soul, I wanted to burn, but I forgot that that also means pain.
Before I met him, I was bored. I am the type of person who gets bored with life easily. Normality feels like being stuck in a closed room at a hospital with the heating turned on waiting for bad news. As calm as I naturally am I wait, poised, hands on lap, back straight until I can stand the suffocation not one second more. I surprise the very air around me and I pounce into action, if only to shake my heart around a little. For the same reason we all do, I suppose: to feel alive. The only difference between people like me and normal people is that I am aware that it is me that does it.
Other people blame external circumstances and people. They think things happen to them, but they don’t. You invite them, the way I invited him.
We went out a few times and very quickly, he made my stomach sick with excitement. Somehow, I found myself suggesting and doing things that were completely out of character. I was very forward with him and invited him to my house. I let him enter my blood stream like liquor; the effects intoxicating and addictive, and the withdrawal poisonous.
He did not love me, I knew that. In all honesty, I did not love him. It was an affair and although neither of us had partners or wives, there was something wrong about it. He had taken over my mind. I couldn’t get past a few moments without thinking about him. I wouldn’t hear from him in days. I would convince myself that I didn’t care, I would teach myself to slowly stop thinking about him and then he would appear at my door. He said very little, but I would let him back into my bed and it would all begin again, his hands touching me, his dark eyes penetrating me, as though they were drinking all the goodness out of my heart, leaving me pale and exhausted. He was not tender, but he was passionate and I found myself acting in the same way.
He would stay the night, but we did not fall into a loving slumber, wrapped in each other’s arms. He lay there and pretended to sleep, but he did not. Try as I could, sleep would not come to me either. I was so aware of him; his breathing, the weight of his body on my bed. When he was lying there keeping me awake, I wanted him gone, but somehow I couldn’t ask him to leave, that would have been rude. He left in the morning, before the others got up. For some reason he didn’t want them to see him although I had told him they knew about him. When I think about it now, none of my friends met him. I don’t like talking about him because I cannot explain why I continue to have him in my life, knowing what he is.
I knew from the beginning there was something wrong about him, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. He has this power over me, without having to say or do anything I do exactly what it was he wants me to. Sometimes he has me doubting that it is even him that is making me do these terrible things, but I was never like this before and I cannot stop myself.
I have the strangest nightmares when he is not here. I dream that I am taking a glass of wine to my lips, but instead of simply drinking out of it, I find myself eating the glass instead. The glass cracks on my teeth, the sharp shards slicing my lips and my tongue. The feeling of the glass scraping and crunching against my teeth makes me feel nauseous.
I dream of a large white room filled with people who appear to be hypnotized walking into a dark hole in the middle of the room to death or something worse. I am the only one running around trying to escape, but there are no doors. I can’t really see his face, but I can feel him standing over me his eyes searching for me. I can feel the enormous presence of his shadow, it is the size of the room and those dark eyes flit around the room manically. I always wake up just as those eyes find mine and I wake up sweating. I can get no rest even when he is not there. I am at the end of my wits.
I have begun to feel a deep loathing for myself and everyone else around me. I see right through people, I see their weakness and ugliness and I know that I cannot trust one of them. They all let me down. I am so aware of people looking at me, it makes me want to take my own eyes out, but somehow, I know I will still feel them looking. I am so exhausted and unhappy, I can barely stay awake at work and I cannot concentrate on anything. My line manager has asked me to go in for a talk next week and I am sure I am getting let go. I have given up on all my personal creative projects, I haven’t looked at my bank account in months, I am missing payments on things and I cannot bring myself to look. My guitar sits untouched and neglected in the corner, my laptop has stopped working and I have not taken it to get fixed. I cannot see any hope in anything anymore. It seems like everything is draining away from my life and I cannot stop it. I don’t want to see friends or family anymore because I am ashamed of myself and I feel like they can tell that I have fallen just by looking at me, and it makes me hate them for judging me.
He is here again tonight. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and usually I would feel full of Christmas spirit, but I feel like my house exists in some other world, where the twinkling lights of Christmas have never been seen. This place is a cold, adult place, where children have never been known. The guys are away home to visit their families and it is just the two of us. He is sitting at my kitchen table lounging back on the chair with a glass of red wine in his hand. He is stroking it with his fingers as he watches me standing at the kitchen counter, a glass of wine in my own hand. I try to look away from him at something else and my eyes rest on the bowl of Christmas confetti on the kitchen table. It looks so red compared to the blandness of the rest of the kitchen, like blood on pale skin. His other hand is now touching it. He has this look in his eyes, a gleam, but there is nothing good about it. He is smug, like he is admiring his work. He can sense the fear in my eyes, but not only that, he can also sense the fire that has been lit within me. I notice now that his eyes are so dark, you cannot see the definition of the pupils. His lips are too red and I notice that his eyebrows meet in the middle.
A line comes into my head and spins in it: “He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for”.
A realization drowns me. He notices that I have finally recognised him and he grins showing his small white teeth. The fear is replaced by horror, not at what he will do to me, but at what he will make me do.
I look away and see myself in the window. The distance and the glass have distorted the reflection and when I look at myself, I see two round hollow, dark holes where I should have eyes; instead of myself, I see a monster. It was me, I invited him.