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Alone in the room. Footsteps seem to follow me. Pacing, up and down. I must be alone. Only in my imagination could anyone be here, with me. The house is empty. I am alone.
Except, footsteps follow me where ever I go in the old house. When I cook, I hear rustles. When I sleep, I feel caressing hands on my cheek. When I go out side, I glimpse shadows on the walls. No, I am alone.
My mind plays jokes on me. My eyes and ears and nose and hands mislead me. I am not alone in my head. He will be there until the day I die.
He comforts me when it’s too much to bear. He talks to me when I am lonely. He laughs at my jokes and tells me his secrets. I see him before I sleep, I dream about him. I pretend to hug him when he is scared. I would never let him go, even if he pushed me aside.
They drove me away when they found out about him. They threatened me, lied to me, bribed me and punished me. I left them and tried to start over in this old house. But he will always be there. With me. I will never be truly alone.
Guilt eats up at me. Anger rises out of my chest and roars with throat grating urgency. Sadness tangles my mind to intolerable, envious knots. Why can I never be free? I will pay for the rest of my life, with every second tearing at my conscience. Every year I live, alone, but with him, is unbearable.
He would be fine, if I hadn’t been so stupid. It was my fault, what happened to him. My decision. My life, surely. Surely, his life was not worth mine? Surely, I was worth more than him. Maybe not. He could have done great things. I could have done great things. Two lives. One focal point. Two lives un-lived.
Alone again. He sleeps, sometimes. I notice his absence and fell lonely. Stupid. He is not even there. He is only in my mind. Imagination. Thought. Stupid to feel alone when he is not there. I should be celebrating. Living. Not waiting for him to come back. Not huddling in a corner, crying silent tears. He shouldn’t mean that much to me. But he does. And he will forever.
I sleep on the floor, in the dark, in the attic. The rest of the house is scary at night. There is no electricity here. Candles light up the attic. I can see up there. I talk to him, in my head. He grows stronger by the day. Bigger, clever, more important. Not just running my life, living my life. As it should be. I should have died instead.
Mother would have told me not to. Father would have come up with a better solution. If I’d told them. It would all be all right now. They wouldn’t be ashamed of me. I wouldn’t be guilty. We would both be alive. I would be free.
I never told them. They think I ran away. They think I’m OK. They think I have made something of myself. If I’d let him live, maybe I would have.
The world outside would think I’d gone insane. They would lock me up. At least then, I’d have someone to talk to besides him. He will drive me insane. If I’m not already.
I regret him. It wasn’t my fault. Not really. Other people didn’t see it that way. Nothing is a mans fault. My fault was all they had left. But people knew it wasn’t me. They sentenced me anyway. Punishments are harsh for fourteen year olds tried as adults.
I didn’t choose to kill him. I wanted to keep him. Wanted to love him. Wanted to take care of him. But an illegitimate child is not loved. Not cherished. Not allowed to take a first breath.
He was not born. He was stolen from my body. Ripped from my spirit. I made the final decision. I killed him. I choose for him to die. I almost wanted him to die. Guilt. I deserve anything anyone dishes out to me. Even my own self.
I watched him grow, all these years, in my mind. He grew, as I wanted him to. He grew slowly, so I could savour every second of his childhood as mine slipped away. I am locked in this house. I am on my own. But he is with me. So I can never be alone.
He had potential. I had potential. We could have been great. I would have looked after him. I would have kept him secret. I would never have asked the man for anything. I would have kept silent. No. I could have yelled with joy from the rooftops, cried for love over him, kissed him and hugged him forever. I could not have kept it quiet. But I didn’t have to kill him.
I miss him. I miss myself. There is no way back. Only forward. As I open the door, I find it was never locked. Held hostage by my own imagination. Am I free now?