I sit on my dirty brown sofa with the dragon‘s tail wrapped around my waist, sharp Dom’s scales digging into my scab studded skin. I used to tell him every day that his iron scales cut my skin so deep that I almost lost my conciseness but I stopped after a month or so. Dom doesn’t care. Now I don’t either.
A black threat in my hands has become sweaty. I mutter “sorry” as I twist it around my fingers. The rusty needle on the other end keeps clashing with Dom’s scales making a constant
Minona’s never ending pace echoes through my apartment. She wipes her sweaty palms on her black sweater and starts ripping off her fingers
She will regret it afterwards with her bloody limbs in her black hair, rocking back and forth in the corner by the window. She always does. I will come to her and help to stitch her fingers back on like I do every Tuesday at 7pm.
In the corner of my dirty brown sofa sits Nothing. His blank stare is locked on the brick wall in front of him. Occasionally he mutters “I don’t want to be here anymore” or “I want to disappear” but doesn’t. When I was younger, I wanted to show Nothing that life is exciting and but it didn’t really work out. Now I put one hand on his bony shoulder and say “Man, I feel the same way”.
But now, as Dom’s tail tightens around my waist, I ask myself: how did I end up here?
The saddest part is, I know exactly how.
I am the happiest person alive.
I have a brave dad and a loving mum whose eyes are so shiny and her words wrap around me like the warm blanket she tucks me in with every night. When she’s busy, I go and play with other kids. My favorite game is Draw-a-Friend. The other kids don’t really understand it but I do. I draw a pretty lady with a smile on her face and three balloons in her hands, close my eyes and count to three. I run to the back yard as fast as I can and play there. I don’t want anyone to take my balloons. Sarah flashes that diamond bright smile as she hands me the balloons and laughs carelessly.
I realize mum’s eyes are too often shiny from tears.
Dad isn’t as brave as I thought.
I draw Cady with giant fury paws and melodious voice which hums sweet songs and whispers words of encouragement. Even though I’m so small my head barely reaches Cady’s knees, I take her soft paw and lead her into mum’s bedroom. I find her with shiny eyes, rosy cheeks and a purple constellation on her back. I tell her to hug Cady but she just shakes her head and tells me to go to my room. I do as I’m told and sit with Cady’s arms around me as she hums “It’s not your fault.”
Sarah is long gone.
Mum’s eyes aren’t shiny anymore, but I don’t remember the last time I saw her smile either.
Dad is gone.
I ask mum if we could talk about school or my future plans. She says don’t be selfish, she needs time to figure her life out, only after that we will start figuring out mine. But I think I’m not okay, I tell her. She replies with ‘aren’t we all’.
Cady’s not here anymore. I’m starting to think it’s all my fault.
I barely see mum these days as she’s still trying to figure her life out.
Tears come trickling down my cheeks like a fresh stream in the spring even though it doesn't ease the gulp of ice I feel in my stomach. I’m scared of my own head but I don’t tell mum. I can’t be selfish and burden her with my problems.
I draw Matt who feeds on self doubt and pressure in my chest. I’m proud of myself, I’m doing a good job raising him - he’s healthy and grows bigger and bigger with each day.
Mum notices my cheeks are sunken and I’ve lost interest in football. She says I need help. I say I need your help. She clicks her heels and goes to figure her life out.
I’m seeing my therapist twice a week.
Mary, my therapist, has shiny eyes.
She says I’m making progress even though I know I’m not. I look up at poor Matt in the armchair next to me – he has grown so big he has to bend double to fit into Mary’s office.
One day Mary hands me a blank notebook with yellow crippled pages and tells me that we’re going to try out a new technique. I’m supposed to draw my inner monsters that crawl up inside my head and make me scared of myself. I shove the notebook back at Mary and say I’m not going to do that. She draws her neat brown eyebrows together and scribbles something in my file. Matt says she wrote that I have anger management issues.
I push all the air I have out of my lungs and squeeze my eyes shut. Mary wants to see my monsters.
I draw an iron dragon with red gleaming eyes and steaming breath. I tell Mary his name’s Dom. She laughs and compliments my drawing skills.
That night Dom’s tail wraps around both of my forearms and leave deep cuts that cry bloody tears.
Later Mary notices I flex my fingers every time I have to talk to anyone and asks to tell about why I do that. Because I don’t know how to express that constant worry and buzzing in my head, I want to say, but a rope around my throat tightens and I choke on my own tears.
Why you don’t draw it then, says Mary.
That Tuesday was the first time Minona ripped her fingers off.
I scrub the needle until the water becomes dark brown and smells of iron. I thread it and wait for 7 pm when I will hear a familiar wailing from the eastern corner by the window which overlooks the river below.
I stopped seeing Mary after she asked me to draw my apathy. I realized I had enough monsters to take care of, I didn’t need anyone else.
I know mum, Mary, sometimes even I had a burning question on the tip of the tongue.
Why don’t you just leave your monsters behind?
The red blinking clock on my microwave says its 7 pm. The heartbreaking sobs fill my loft and I go to collect the fingers. As Minona cries and screams, my steady hands are putting her back together
I can’t leave my monsters; they’re the only thing I know.
I sight and brush my bloody hands down my shirt. Minona puts her freshly sawn hands in her hair and starts rocking back and forth.
I stand up and look around my apartment filled with common creatures and feel Dom’s tail twisting around my waist.
If I leave, what will become of my monsters?