There once was a girl with a creature living on her shoulder. No one else could see him but he was with her wherever she went. As she walked to work every morning he would whisper in her ear. Tell her to stop, tell her to go home, tell her it wasn’t worth it. He called himself Sadness. Sometimes, she would listen to what Sadness had to say. Even though she could hear her friends telling her it was ok. The creature seemed louder, his arguments were too strong and sometimes she could feel him pulling her back to the safety of her duvet.
Turn off your phone. You don’t need them, you have me.
While she slept, he would climb into her dreams and tug at the threads. Let the memories contort, turning familiar faces into strangers and smiles into scowls.
They despise you. They’ll never understand.
At first, she had tried to tell people about the creature scratching away at the corners of her mind but they didn’t believe her. She started to notice sideways glances and whispers in the background.
I tried to warn you.
One day the girl decided to fight him off. She shoved and shook. Twisted and pulled until despite his digging claws the creature slipped down. When he did, someone new settled down. She called herself happiness and she never clawed or scratched, she simply sat with the girl. Accompanied her on the walk to work and gave her a little push when she froze at the door. While Happiness was staying, no one gave the girl sideways glances or whispered when they thought she wasn’t listening. The girl loved getting to know Happiness, she helped bear the weight of mundane life and tended to sprinkle glitter across the girls eye line during dull points in the day.
But Happiness couldn’t stay. A month after she had come to stay, the girl woke up to find her shoulder empty. She was determined though; the girl was strong since Happiness had visited and surely, she could cling to that. It didn’t matter that her companion had left, she would find a way to live without Happiness whispering in her ear.
I would never have left you.
What was that? Quiet at first; a tug at her sleeve, an itch crawling up her arm. She shook it off. But there it was again; snaking closer and closer until…
Did you miss me?
Sadness sank his claws into her skin and tightened his grip. His whispering had turned to shouting, so loud the girl couldn’t ignore it. Everything else became background crackles as he pulled her attention onto him.
She left you.
I would never leave.
You’ll only ever have me.
I’m the only thing you need.
You’ll never see Happiness again.
Locking the door to the world she screamed. She ripped her photos from the walls and laced the curtains closed. She didn’t need the light, she couldn’t see it anyway. She could feel his claws deep in her flesh and though she tore at him, he was too strong for her to push away. So, she crumbled into the corner too tired to do anything but let him stay…