Strength Within

by Jainnoo Shrestha

        "Just pathetic, totally pathetic" snickered a nasty voice as Alex stood in front the mirror. She hurriedly closed her eyes and tried to calm her pumping heart, "it's here again" she thought as her body shook a little. After a while She pushed her eyes open and it definitely was there, slowly sliding its long slimy body around Alex's pale neck. Her whole body shuddered in disgust and it made her want to gag yet she just stood there helplessly. It loosely wrapped around her neck and approached her right small ear, opened its mouth for her to see the two sharp fangs glittering in venom, and whispered the same usual word "ugly" over and over again. It's hissing soft voice started echoing in the four walls of her room and she stood waiting for this torture to finish. She glared at it with all her might with the little ounce of energy she had in her, however, it just tightened its grip on her neck with a scornful smirk. "Alex, come down for breakfast" exclaimed a sweet voice of her mother and like a magic everything slowly faded out. But before she could sigh in relieve, the creature exclaimed "let's meet again "and disappeared leaving a bitter taste in her mouth. She carefully traced her neck and looked at the mirror, "how long will this continue" she mumbled and walked away.

        Alex had just started her college, in the small town of Colorado. She moved there from Georgia with her parents and one little brother, when she was just ten years old. It was a small neighborhood up in the hill, surround by fort of trees as if it's being hidden from the rest of the world. Having lived there for 9 years already, she still felt like a stranger in the neighborhood, she couldn't feel even an ounce of familiarity in her heart for this town. But that's just how she was, distanced from everyone and everything as if she is trying hard to protect her fragile heart from judging eyes. Ever since child, she had a different way of expressing things and was slow at grasping her surrounding, her only redeeming point according to her father was her good heart. But she couldn't tell anyone that her good heart was growing a creature inside. It was always there with her, suddenly appearing and disappearing, as a child she thought of it as a friend but the strange thing was only she would see it smirking, hissing around her. It made Alex always feel this huge wall between her and other, a wall that she tried to break so hard with her tiny hand till it bled back but nothing could break it. "strange, weird, useless" were the arrows of words thrown at her by her peers but that didn't hurt as much as the disappointed sighs and comparing eyes of her parents. Unlike her, her brother was bright as sun that lit up the whole environment wherever he was. She loved him with all her heart yet her love had slowly became shattered to the point that she wouldn't even look at him now without a disgusting feeling crawling up to her heart. But she wasn't always so gloomy, that the creature with her wasn't always so scornful. She felt loved and happy with the way her life was going on until that day where that creature horrifyingly crawled out of her heart and whispered in a sweet poisonous voice "you're the one to blame".

        It was that fateful day when she was 10 years old. It was a normal day for her family, as usual her mother was flipping delicious pancakes while her brother was chattering and stuffing his face with those pancakes like a hamster. Her father was on the sitting across the dining table sipping the hot coffee while shuffling the newspaper. It was a normal day but to her it was the day of her life, excitedly she dashed down from the stairs to her mother and hugged her from behind. Her mother jolted in surprise and exclaimed "wow there, what's wrong Alex?" to which she replied "when are we leaving? I want to go already" Her mother flashed a smile at the rare sight of her excited daughter. "just after breakfast alright" convinced her mother. Alex couldn't contain her excitement for it was her birthday and after so long her family were going to her favorite snake house in the nearby zoo. But more than that she was thrilled to have all of her parents' attention for once. Being the eldest and born in the time of financial trouble, Alex had to sacrifice a lot compared to her brother. Both her parents worked so she had to always be alone at home and because of her obsession with snakes she was an outcast in the school, but even so she bravely put a good girl face in front of her parents to ease their worries. When her brother was born, the little bit of her parent's attention were ripped away from her to the points that they would sometimes forget her. She had to sacrifice all of her wishes for him but after so long it was her day.

        As they had arrived to the zoo, everything was going great for Alex, she was having fun. However, all of her fun was torn apart by her own hand. Everything was going great when suddenly her brother, john, exclaimed that he wanted to go home to which her parent's agreed without hesitance. She was shocked, she looked at them while trembling a little, and suddenly there was a dull pain in her heart followed by sound of something cracking. She looked at brother and abruptly a dark cloudiness covered her heart, she was filled with anger at the unfairness, she could feel something creeping out of the crack in her good girl's heart. But being the inexpressive girl she was, she swallowed it all and followed them to the metro. When they arrived to the station, there was a huge crowd waiting for the metro and while waiting for it, her brother came to her and hold her hand with a smile, normally this would have filled her heart with warmness however today it only light the burning flame of anger. Her parents' exclaimed "hold him tight Alex, don't get lost in the crowd" looking back at her, as she was a bit behind them, expecting her to enter the metro that had just arrived. The darkness is her heart became denser and a rush of impulse crawled up her spine as she slowly withdrew her hand from the small soft hand that was tightening around hers in desperation. The rushing crowd pushed her in the metro as the small frighten figure of her brother was left behind. She stood there for second filled with only frightening sound of her heart beat, and suddenly the scene out of the window faded to blur as the metro rushed off. "what did I just do?" she screamed in her mind. The realization hit her so hard that she fell to the ground and started bawling out. She couldn't believe she did such a horrible act, all of herself image came crashing down to an emptiness. Darkness hovered around her and suddenly the silent creature inside her turned all black, it slowly crawled out of her heart right to her face, waving the long thin tongue and hissing words like "horrible ugly creature, you're the one to blame" over and over again. That event made everything go down the hill for Alex, they did find the brother eventually but he was hurt, her parent's eyes had turned cold towards her and her brother's heart had become a bit wounded from the fear. Nothing was left by her side after that, only the creature that kept whispering poisonous words to her all night and day.

        Even now after 9 years had gone by, she would still curl up and shiver in disgust whenever she remembered her horrible act. The creature from then one had grown stronger and more vivid every passing day, it had become more vicious and only she could see it. Every night, she felt a sensation of being beyond her body and watching her life fall apart yet all she could was cry silently. After the incident, she had created a huge distance from everyone around her, especially her brother because she could no longer look at him without a sense guiltiness and anger. The relation between him and Alex had gone cold and distanced to the point, where she no longer knew anything about her brother's life. Every day, all she did was go to college, return, and just fade to darkness until another day starts again. "how long will this routine continue" she whispered as she was once again walking through the quite forest to reach that closed off house of her and repeat her routine, but as she entered, her silent house was filled with an unusual noise of panic and cries. She slowly approached the living room and her eyes laid upon a grim figure of her mother kneeling in the floor. "what happened?" she questioned, her voice was trembling from the heaviness in the air. Her mother looked up with eyes that was exhausted from crying, unable to form a sentence properly. "Your brother is nowhere to be found" said an exhausted voice out of nowhere, she turned around to see a really unsteady figure of her father. It seems that her brother, john, had been missing since the afternoon when his school had finished. When her father went to pick him up, he was nowhere to be found and since then they have informed the police yet there hasn't been any progress. "John was being bullied, yet we didn't know anything, they took my son somewhere" said her mother with a painful sobbing. According to john's classmates, he had been horribly bullied by the seniors of his school and no one dare to tell the teacher for they were scared of them too. "is there any news from the police?" She frantically questioned her father to which he just shook his head. She just stood there frozen for a while then Like a slide show, every memory of her brother came flashing to her and something crawled up in her heart. "I am going to search for him" she said with a strong resolve in her voice that broke the silence, and dashed out of the house.

       When she remembered the dazzling smile of her brother, for the first time after so long her heart shook from something other than fear. It was a strange feeling that felt like a burst of anger and determination. But as she kept on rushing through different places, the world was slowly being swallowed by the darkness and so was her heart. She could feel it come out again with its slimy body, slowly wrapping it's self around her pale sweaty neck. "stop pretending" it hissed into her ears, "aren't you happy that he is gone" it laughed sinisterly and Alex came to an abrupt stop. Her heart was starting to freeze up and a wobbling feeling crawled to her throat. She could feel it's slimy body and its poisonous words more than usual. "you pathetic, you can't do anything, you're the one that left him, don't act as a hero because you don't have the right to, you're a horrible sister." One after one it sprouted poisonous words that stabbed her heart without mercy. She couldn't breathe properly and fell to the ground, trying to grasp for air. All that resolved was tearing apart and she was one again letting herself dissolve in darkness when suddenly a memory flashed in her mind. It was a time when she and brother where playing hide and seek in the park near the old church she was the "it" and john had to hide. John had hidden somewhere that Alex couldn't find at all, and just as the sun had started to set, as her last option, she had entered the old church just to find john sobbing under one of the table. She had scolded him a lot saying "why didn't you come out when I couldn't find you" while wiping his tears, to which he had whined stubbornly "I was waiting for my hero, and I decided that I won't budge until the hero comes and find me". Alex was already exhausted that day so she tried to convince him by saying that batman and superman are very busy so they can't come to such an old place, so today let's go home and they will wait for hero tomorrow to which john had replied happily "but my hero did come to find me. Alex, you were like a hero when you found me, so I will come out now" with a cute smile as he had hugged Alex with all his might. On their way back home, she had told him that she didn't have any power like a hero and her cute brother had turn to her and said confidently "but you do! you found me so you will always be my hero, no matter how lame you become, promise me you will find me" hearing that had made Alex very happy and filled her heart with such warmness. She had crossed her pinky to that of her little brother, making oath to fulfill her promise. She abruptly opened her eyes, her heart was pumping so hard, all of the words john had spoken echoed in her mind. She clenched her hand to a fist, she finally had remembered the precious promise and once again her heart was filled with resolve. As she stood up, the creature again hissed and whispered "it's useless, you don't have the right to find him, you are horrible" but this time she wasn't going to break down. She closed her eyes and with a sharp voice she exclaimed loudly "No, I am his hero and I will find him." When she slowly opened her eyes there were only the echoes of her voice dancing in the empty road, she touched her neck and it wasn't there anymore nor was its hissing sound. For the first time in all these years, she made it disappear by herself, she won against it, her heart was filled with joy and hope as she run to the old church to find her brother.

        As she had hoped, he was right there waiting for her. All these years he hadn't forgotten her promise and with the same stubbornness he was waiting for his one and only hero. When she found him under the same table, she felt that her broken time was finally moving, she hugged him all her might and cried out all of her pain throughout these years. Everything was a mess when they went back home, john explained he was being chased by the bullies because he finally tried to expose their acts to the principle. As he was being chased, he could only thing of that place and waited for Alex to come. Her parents looked at her with such a kindness, and hugged her and john with all their might. As she leaned into their embrace, she finally felt the warmness returning to this silent house, she felt at peace. Everyone was exhausted, her parents had informed the police and the teachers about the all things and went to sleep.

      Just as the house was once again covered in total silence, Alex stood in front of the mirror in her room. She watched the reflected figure with total silence, and waited for the creature to come out as it always did. A shiver rushed down her spine, when she felt it drag out it's slimy body from the core of her heart. She could feel it's cold body slowly sliding up to her neck and wrap around it as a necklaces, it made her want to gag so bad but she stood there with a resolve. As always it brought it's flapping thin tongue and licked her earlobe, slightly touching it with its sharp fangs. She wanted to close her eyes from the horrifying image in front of her but she stood there clenching her hand in a fist, holding in her breath and glaring it with all her might. "you're a hypocrite, you just wanted to feel good about yourself, no one loves you, only I can understand you, only I am beside you, I am your everything" it hissed with all its might. She took a long breath and with a trembling yet strong voice she replied "no, you don't exist, you are not real" but just as those words left her mouth, she felt a pang of doubt from her heart. She herself didn't believe her own words, for all of her senses felt this creature with a total clarity. But she had to fight back no matter what, she glared at it again and it replied back by tightening its grip around her neck, "do you think this sensation, this tightness in your neck is fake?" it exclaimed as it showed its fang to her with a hiss. The doubt in her was expanding just as the feeling of tightness around her neck, yet her resolve didn't waver and with all her might she pushed her words out. "no, no, no you are just my fear, my guilt, my insecurities, you are something that I created and you are something that I can destroy" she screamed loudly with all her heart. Believe it believe it believe it, she reminded herself again and again. "I am okay now, I accept all my fear and guilt, I accept all parts of me because no matter I am me, even the horrible me, even the good girl me, all of them is me, I love myself!" she cried out, tears falling down her face like a waterfall, she cried it all out to her reflection in the mirror. She looked at the creature and caressed its body gently, slowly it lost all its grip around her neck. It's cold slimy body became warm and glowed with a beautiful shade of golden. Alex jolted in surprise and took her hands off, suddenly it's body started to slowly shatter in glittering snowflakes, spreading all around her. She looked at the beautiful flying snowflakes that danced around her for a while and slowly gathered in the mirror, as she looked at the reflection in the mirror the snowflakes took a form of a beautiful lion with waving fur, it was staring at her with majestic eyes that showed the strength to face anything in the world. A warm rush of Adeline crawled up to her and her heart was flattering with such strength. She took a long breath and slowly reached out to the reflection, just as the tip of her finger touched the soft fur of this majestic beast it came out of the reflection with such force and entered her heart. She stumbled but regained her balance in a minute, she stood there for a second and slowly looked up to the mirror, and for once the one that looked back to her was only her reflection. She stood there is an utter silence and looked at the way her eyes sparkled, she slowly brought her hands and softly caressed her heart. "thank you so much for being by my side all this time" she whispered kindly and let the night take her to slumber with her heart anticipating tomorrow for the first time.

Rate this submission


You must be logged in to rate submissions

Loading Comments