Haunted by Kaitlyn Meyer

He’s just like them. You’ve known for months; you knew all along, so why did you ignore it? He’s opened the same door they did, shown a vapid underbelly, and the frame is caked in rotting worm remains, spider legs and rat bones. With the whine of hinges comes the crack of calcium underfoot.

Could you still love him alone in this room? Vile things have grown across the walls, and mold has ripped apart the paper. They watched it all from the windowsill. 

“You know what’s funny?” you had whispered, crumbling under his sickly grip, “You’re probably my best friend.”

The grasp tightened, comforting. “You’re my best friend, too.”

You’re nauseous, choking back either bile or unguarded resolve.

“I really love you, buddy.”

Are you allowed to say you love him even though you lie to him? You told him it was a one time thing, then that it was just two bumps, just the lightest breath of white. You’re tired of their unrelenting stance, never leaving your sight; you want to see him without their insistent loitering. You know why you’re crying; the lines pour it from your wrists. He may know too. They would’ve. He makes you sick. He never used to. 

“I love you too.”

His arms squeeze tighter, and you feel safe—or at least, you would’ve. Now you are the mouse under a cobra: it’s how they loved you. He understands your terror; he is the first man to love you without cause, without expectation of circumstance. He is still a man.

He’s eating you alive. He’s devoured every inch of you, though no craving remains. How sorrowful it is that you’ve grown apart from him–how terrible it has to feel to know you are not one being. To split at your very seams, you can feel skin rip apart, pore by pore, twangs of tendon left to be played like heavy strings of the bass. You must be terrified of what it means, of what this dependency is, for you are not happy within him but miserable around him. You can still see them out of the corner of your eye; his existence alone will never exterminate them. 

You know they linger, still in those woods, still in that park. In the liquor on your breath, you were addicted to them and everything similar; you’ve grown accustomed to such a vibrantly tainted presence in the back of your mind. 

There’s blood on their hands.

You love him because he isn’t them, but don’t you look for it in everyone; even now?

You can’t breathe, not under them, not with those eyes glowering back. 

His fingers echo their place on your throat. It’s your choice now, isn’t it?

Long legs have coiled over your own, an arm held down against yours. 

You’ve been starving since you knew them. 

You’re fourteen again, they say that they love you. You just want to sleep. Green is intolerable, nauseating and unbearable to look into. 

You’ve begun to fear more than just them, but for yourself. You know he’s done nothing wrong, it was them who ruined this for you. It was the terror that was bourne into you through their wrongdoings, through their persistence, your reliance. 

They are the reason you cannot accept such affections. They’re why you can’t recognize his gentle touch without remembering the claws of guilt ripping at your flesh. Red and overflowing, it is your rawest form. Once known by them, now placed in his unscathed palm. And who is he to deny the right to haunt you; that which they have bestowed upon him from within you?