Her Silent Companion 

By Anna Benson 

The darkness loomed before her, pressing closer with every breath. The stairs hadn’t seemed so daunting while she was in the safety of her room, but on the landing where soft light met the pure darkness, she hesitated. Her imagination and gut telling her something was there watching, waiting, closing in. Someone coughed, she bolted up the stairs to her room. As she closed the door her cat stared at her from the pillow on her bed, startled awake by the commotion. In the cat’s eyes, there was no annoyance, only slight concern, and curiosity. She took a deep breath walking slowly to the bed in the soft light cast from her LED lights. As she climbed up the bed she apologized to her cat and pet it till it settled back down again. As she thought of the foolishness of her actions and previous confidence in her ability to go downstairs without a light. Even though she had known she’d been off her medication for a while and her anxiety had been plaguing her more than usual recently. 

She knew she wasn’t being rational, there was nothing there. But that never seemed to calm her mind, keep her from hurriedly turning on lights or racing upstairs. Sometimes it felt like something was always watching her, behind her, or in the darkness. She was never certain if that was what kept her up, what fueled her feeling that she had to stay up or didn’t want to fall asleep. What she imagined watching her was never human, it was always something else, humans were fallible and could be dealt with. The fear of not knowing what it was only seemed to amplify her fear. Though she didn’t like horror movies she’d seen enough to fuel her imagination for years. Though at times it was only a feeling, that she was being watched, or that she would see something move out of the corner of her eye.

She knew it was impossible and that she was being paranoid, but she couldn’t help it. So she stayed awake, with the lights on, and her back to the wall. If she could help it she would never be alone when the thoughts or feelings haunted her, being around others always seemed to break the illusion. 

She knew it was beyond childish but those feelings never abated. Not until either the next morning | or she distracted herself enough with mind-numbing entertainment. Escapism was her favorite tactic to use. Whether it was for her silent companion, school, or just random stress. She could get away from it all with a good book or movie. In these new worlds none of it mattered, it was all irrelevant. Eventually, she would have to come back but in those moments | it was bliss. When it wasn’t books or shows | it was music. She could never stand the silence because when it was quiet, the roaring in her ears would begin. That or her thoughts would start to surface | and would drag her down a spiral that could last for either minutes | or days. The only danger with the music was that it made her more anxious of her companion, her senses dulled now made everything much more startling. 

Sometimes on the rare occasion when she wasn’t either blasting her music or being entertained by anything else | she would arrive upon the same question. Am I ever really happy, or am I just constantly distracting myself from how I always feel? Do I ever feel truly happy? Her mother once told her that if she didn’t feel like smiling, she didn’t have to. Sometimes she’d find herself alone | and still find herself with a content look on her face | and then simply let it fall. Over her life, she had changed her natural resting face to be more pleasant to others. How did she know if she hadn’t tricked her mind into thinking the same thing? That she was content and calm.

In her room alone these thoughts would hound her, the bright blue room surrounding her | seeming to mock her | and her pain. Her room seems to be the perfect example of her facade, the bright white and baby blue | symbolizing purity and serenity. While all she felt was chaos and pain. Her silent companion watching, observing, and always judging. Her life, an interactive movie for them to toy with. The judgment from her peers and family would drive her insane at times, her body not feeling right, never looking good enough, and always being an outcast. At times she felt as if her companion was the only one who saw it all. How she’d fall apart and then try to put herself back together again before anyone else could see her. 

Some days were better than others for her. Some days she wanted to stay in bed all day and others she needed to be anywhere but her home. When she’d go to stores her companion would follow her, noticing all the mumbled attempts to ask someone for help before giving up and leaving. Or how she’d practice over and over again what she’d say when ordering food. All the little insecurities, whether it was how she’d dressed or if she misspoke, her companion saw them all. Though the days when she did nothing were always the worst. She’d not want to do anything, and she wouldn’t. Then the judgment from herself would consume her with how she could waste a day and be so unproductive. The vicious cycle of having no motivation but then feeling the guilt of her lack of action. The silence of her companion and the weight of the unsaid words laid an unseen burden on her shoulders. Which only furthered the cycle. 

Though she spent much time in bed, sleep was never easy. She would want to sleep, she was fatigued from long days. Something would always keep her awake despite that, and naps were impossible since she never truly fell asleep. Her companion wasn’t constantly incredibly prevalent in her mind. When they weren’t she would just feel numb, as if without them she didn’t feel anything at all. Without her companion, her anxiety, her fears, her depression, she felt nothing.

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