The Monster in the Dark

by Nicole, Amanda & TJ

I am alone in a room. There's nothing but darkness surrounding me. There's nothing except a faint cry in the background. But, I am too afraid to go see what it is. My body starts to shake from the fear that slowly possesses me. I sit in the corner holding my legs, hoping that all of this will go away. I am so alone. Suddenly, through the darkness I can see a shadow creeping towards me. It is a silhouette of a man. This seems all so familiar to me and yet so distant. I can feel my heart racing. I hold my breath as I watch this mysterious man come closer and closer. Something is terribly wrong. I have seen this man somewhere before. My body goes cold. I feel his icy hands close around my throat. I close my eyes, and let the darkness and fear consume me.

I jump up in my bed, I am drenched in sweat. Ben puts his arm around me, trying to calm me. "Another nightmare?" he whispers in my ear. I put my hand up to my heart. It is beating so fast, it's only a nightmare I tell myself. I've been having this same dream over and over again since I was 10 years old. You'd think after the thousandth time this dream would get pretty boring, predictable even. But every time I see it, it only seems to get worse. The feelings of dread and restlessness will follow me around for days, and just when I start to forget I have the dream again. "Go back to bed, I'll be alright," this is what I tell Ben every night after I wake up screaming.

Ben is a good guy. He has always been there for me. I've grown up my whole life with Ben and I don't know what I'd do without him. He's helped me through some pretty dark times. I don't know how he does it though. He puts up with me and all this nonsense for the past 15 years of my life. And, through it all he's only ever been calm and caring. Ben understands me. No one ever understands me; I think that is why I fell for him in the first place.

I kick the covers off my body and sit up in bed. The night air is still cold; a shiver runs down my back. I take a step off the bed and start to walk to the small windowsill across the room. This is what I do almost every night; have a nightmare, wake up screaming and then I sit up next to the windowsill for a couple of hours. I just sit there, thinking about the day and dreading for it to come. I guess ever since my accident I've never been completely the same anymore. I sit still looking outside. It's still late. The sky is still dark blue. The moon is almost full. It's so large that I think I can see every creator, every wound on something so strong. I look down at my arm. Angry red welts stare back at me. I pull my sleeve back down. They were years old and something that wasn't a part of me anymore.

I walk shakily over to the bathroom. I look at myself in the mirror. My thick messy blonde locks fall down past my shoulders. I wipe the fresh tears away from my face, and look for a long time in the mirror, and I start to change appearances. Suddenly I am looking at my 10 years old self with dimples and braids, on that horrific day...

Footsteps. I hear footsteps. Loud heavy footsteps. I hear them getting closer, and closer. I run to my room and hide under the warm covers. I hear a door open and then close. I assume that it was my parent's room door. I walk over to their door and open it just a little bit, and look inside. I see three shadows; one of them is pacing and shouting at the other two. Mommy and daddy never yell. I'm confused, I am about to push the door all the way open when I hear my mommy scream, then my daddy, then a smash. I'm scared. I'm shivering, but I'm not cold. I take a breath and crawl on my hands and knees into the room. The big window is broken, and a burst of cold air blows against my face, crisp autumn air. Leaves are blowing into the room; I pick one up and look at it. It's big and yellow with a strange red spot on the bottom right corner, I touch it, and it's wet. Blood. I rub my eyes and I see more. There's more blood and my mom and dad on the floor. I'm too scared to breathe. Their eyes aren't moving, there are faces and pale and inhuman. I run out of their bedroom and hide under my bed. I was too young to understand what was happing, to understand why my parents wouldn't move when I touched them. I shut my eyes and fell into a restless, dreamless sleep.

Next thing I knew, I was outside in the cold with ten year old Ben's arms around me. Even then he was handsome. He told that I had fallen asleep in a bush just a couple of miles away from the house. He had found me while he and his older brother were playing in their backyard. His brother had already gone to call the police about finding me, the missing child. Ben just sat there talking to me. "So where are your mommy and daddy?" he asks me. I just sit there speechless, unable to move. Thoughts run so quickly through my mind that I am unaware of everything else. The broken window. Blood on the leaves. My parents motionless on the floor. The shadow of a monster. I don't understand what happened. Everything feels so distant. The denial has started. They couldn't be dead, they just couldn't. My parents loved me. They would never leave me alone.

But, wait, wasn't I the one who left them? I left them lying there on the ground. I ran away. I just watched the shadows while I listened to their last dying screams. All my emotions started to overwhelm me. My vision started to become blurrier and blurrier. I couldn't control my tears or the guilt that was slowly rising in the pit of my stomach. I was to blame. I am the reason why they are dead.

Suddenly everything comes back to me. I snap out of my trance, gasping for air. This is the first time that has ever happened. I've always tried to block out any memories from that day. This was different though, I've never actually let my emotions completely consume me. I look at my messy golden curls in the mirror and the red rims that circle my eyes. I am shaking. I am a complete mess. I open the cabinet behind the mirror, rows and rows of prescription medication stare back at me. No, I can't be numb for this. I take one finally look in the mirror and leave the bathroom. I don't know where I am going but I know I need to get out. I make my way down the staircase and into the kitchen. I look straight across the room at the microwave; it reads 4:45 AM. I walk to the small basket sitting on the kitchen counter and dig through it. There are so many sets of keys and I look around for my set.

My set has a keychain on it of the Eiffel tower. I remember when I was 6 years old my parents travelled to France. They left me with my grandparents for 2 weeks but they promised to bring me back something. Unfortunately, the keychain was the only part of the present that I didn't lose. It reminds me of that desire of seeing them again. It gives me hope. Hope that they will someday comeback to me. Although, I know this is impossible, it's nice to have something in my life to believe in.

I finally find it in the bottom of the small basket. I reach out, grab the keys and head for the front door. I walk through the kitchen into the living room. The room is nice, comfortable. The furniture is vintage but it feels like home. The door is on the left side of the room. When I get to the door I unlock it and walk outside. I take a deep breath. The air is crisp and reminds me of that one autumn night all those years ago. I start to get another flashback but push those emotions away immediately. I walk to the car and unlock the door. I sit in the car looking at my house for a long time, tears running down my face, I shake my head and start the engine. I start to drive. I don't know where I am going. I just drive. I let my instincts and subconscious take over.

I think about how hard my life has been while growing up. The struggles that have been overwhelming me all these years; being put through the foster care system, my abusive relationships and above all the blame and guilt that sits there in the back of my mind. Ben's famous line of advice to me is "it's not your fault." I lie to him frequently. I always pretend to be ok with it but really I'm not. I'm pretty sure he sees right through it, but goes along with it anyways. Because he loves me. He also knows that I don't care what happens to me, but I know that he cares. He is always there to save me from myself, my perpetual saviour. Ben is my rock, the one person who has been there for me no matter what these last 15 years. He knows that I've always blamed the death of my parents on myself. And as much as he tries to convince be other wise, he's wrong. I just ran away. I left them there to die. I just watched a man murdered my parents. Deep down I wish I could just forget about it and forgive myself. But, no matter how hard I try I just can't seem to let go.

I hit the break, and look up. I'm in the alley beside Ben's old house; I can see the bush where I hid so many years ago. I get out of the car and walk to the cliff at the back out his house. I just stood there, my toes hanging off the edge, tears streaming down my face. Just jump coward, I thought, you're a murderer, it's your fault your parents are dead. I stared down at the rocks below, dark and sharp with water smashing against them. I take a deep breath, my last breath and look up. Through my tears I can see a sign, a billboard. I blink to clear my vision, and I strain to see the words on the sign. For some reason I feel compelled to know what's on it. IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT, the sign says. I laugh, call it kismet, but I believe that it was a sign, from god, or my parents. I take a step back, and let out a sigh of relief. Ben was right, Ben has always been right. He is the only person who understands me and what I've been through. I realised that I can't live without him. I used to think that he was the only good thing in my life. I reached down and cradled my stomach. Know I have two.

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