When We Were Younger. | On Dublin Street Competition AND John Green Competition

The ghosts of my memories haunt me, keeping me alive until they think it's time for me to die. My time is limited to find the thing that will keep them away from me, but what if that thing is a ghost now, too?


2. The Monster.

'I.. I'm a monster.'

That simple statement reverberates from the walls of the empty room I sat in. The room was made up mostly of neutral colours on the walls and furniture that surrounded me in such a close-cut way that I had to clench my fists to stop myself from running from such a claustrophobic environment. Outside, the sky was smothered by grey cloud, and in the distance a few rays of sun shot through and reached the water-deprived grass softly. The mirror on the wall was almost definitely double sided glass, with my assigned therapist sat on the other side with her pen clutched in a shaking fist as I describe my deepest, darkest thoughts. 

'I like my dreams. I don't care if I wake up kicking and screaming and pulling at my restraints, my dreams are my sanctuary and you can't change that. However many people think I'm crazy. I won't lie, maybe I am. I like the dark corners of my mind, they help me understand who - what - I am. 

'I wish I was able to stop it. I didn't want to kill her, she was the only one who understood me and what I thought. I used to be like this, just not as bad. She used to calm me, much more than anyone else. Wait. No, that's wrong. Someone else used to be able to help me.' 

I hung my head and closed my eyes, searching through the darkness. There was a tiny light at the base of my skull, niggling at me with the dimness lighting up my brain. I reached for it, pushing through the ghosts that were suddenly visible. There were so many. So, so many. They held me back, but suddenly something miraculous happened. The little speck of light shot towards me, barging through the ghosts with a gentle glow that hurt my eyes. A name appeared in my mind. Robert.

 I opened my eyes, squinting as I adjusted to the grey brightness that attacked my eyes. I went to say his name, but a lump stuck in my throat. I couldn't remember him much at that point, my mind was clouded by the ghosts that bombarded my memory of him, attempting to erase the thought that could rid me of them. 

'R... Robert.' 

It hurt. It hurt to remember, to understand who he was and what he had done, what I had done. 

'His name was... Robert.'

I clutched at my hair as my head felt like it was going to explode, but I carried on. 

'I met him in the mental asylum my father put me in. He was in the room next to me. I used to hear him yell and scream, and for a time that was the only connection I had with him. We exchanged wails and cries, growing accustomed to waking to them in the middle of the night. Struggles when they wouldn't let us out, that sort of thing. One day, when it was really sunny, they took us outside, two at a time. I guess that was because they couldn't handle more of us at once,' I took in a shaky breath, the light in my mind growing.

'He was my partner; we were pulled out of our beds and our minds into the bright sunshine, which blinded me. They sat us beside us and walked off a distance, keeping a watchful eye on us the entire time. He spoke first. He introduced himself, and told me why he was there, and asked me why I was. I told him, and he seemed to understand. Unlike the way everyone else's eyes were sunken, his were much more alert, with a smile that made me feel strangely at ease. That was, until I had a flash back.'

My mind was darkening, and I could see black contorting my vision, spots appearing in the small fraction of sky I could see through the window. 

'I had fallen to the ground; my mother was trying to talk to me. The next thing I knew, he was sitting on the floor with me, cradling my head in his lap, playing with my hair. And I liked it. We stayed there, me breathing heavily and clenching my eyes shut whenever I felt like she was going to come back. When I opened my eyes again, he was looking down at me, his often vacant eyes studying me intensely. His eyes... They were...,' I stalled, searching again. The light turned a pale shade of green. 'Green. Like the grass as it's dying. It quickly became my favourite colour. His smile became my light in the dark, and his voice the lullaby as I fell in love just like falling asleep; slowly at first, and then all at once. People say that young love isn't true, that it won't last. But in that moment, I knew. This wasn't just a "high school romance". I hadn't been to school in a long time. He was something different.' 

The ghosts were receding, but there was something inside the light that I was suddenly terrified to reach for. A shadow that was reaching for me, instead of it being the other way round. Something had tricked me, and I was angry. At myself, and at Robert.

'After a while, I began to look forward to stolen kisses in the garden and a hand to hold, especially since I had been there much longer than I want to disclose. I got attached to him. Which was the bad thing. I started to hurt him, to push him away whenever my flashes got worse. I hurt him without knowing. I'd tell him that They made me, but he wouldn't listen. I'd apologise, and he wouldn't forgive me. He thought I didn't want him or need him, when in reality he was everything that would help me.'

'And then one day, he found out he had a brain tumor. I found a knife, I had an episode. The next thing I know, I'm stood in his room, people surrounding but never touching me. There's a bloodied blade in my hands, cuts bleeding from my forearms and a shape covered in a blood-stained sheet. I dropped the knife, narrowly missing my foot, and ran forwards until I realised that an arm was on my shoulder. I felt the blood drip from my fingertips. My blood, his blood. Together, mixed, entwined like our fingers had been just a day previously. I stopped, and collapsed. But this time it wasn't because I was having a flashback.'

I shudder as I feel my mind succumbing to unconsciousness. I could see him now, haunting me with my mother, screams accompanied by laughs, tears encouraged with a teasing knife. 

'I'm a monster.'

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