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There's Something in Your Closet
Each millimeter of light beaming from the space between door and wall was precious. My mother’s silhouette greedily devoured most of the hallway’s fluorescent glow, but it was better than the inevitable darkness. She seemed to be pitying me, as if looking at a humane-shelter puppy behind the glass: miserable, but already too late to save, even though only inches away.
“Goodnight, Sweetie,” she whispers, even though we’re the only ones in the pod and neither of us, obviously, are asleep. Turning her miserable smile away from me, she glances at my closet, fretting over the foreboding sounds rumbling from the unknown inside it. “Looks like they switched on your closet tonight. Might even have a few hours of darkness, hon.” She was sorry for me, but not sorry enough to stay here or leave the door open. I wanted to ask for a goodnight hug, but instead my lips spat, “darn woman.”
My mother recoiled a bit, her hand lazily hanging off the doorknob, threatening to leave it and any memory of me behind. Her eyebrows entered the middle of her forehead in sheer surprise, and her lower lip stiffened in a loss for words.
“Little girls don’t speak to their mothers like that,” she whispered, not at all scolding, but instead contemplative. Her tight frown of confusion flattened into a snakelike grin, only missing the flickering of a forked tongue. Her eyes almost seemed to stretch into slits, and her grip on the doorknob tightened, as though imagining it was the prey I had become.
“Yes, your closet’s on tonight. Happy shadows, dear.”
And then came the darkness.
I didn’t need to look out the window to tell the lights in the city were switching to darkness. It was as if God was flipping the switch, locking up for the night, leaving the world to mind itself.
The darkness emanating from the city was darker than simple lack of light, and as it began to bleed from the windows flanking both sides of my bed, it seemed as if I was glowing, and slowly going out.
The tendrils curled onto my windowsill, latching onto the wall, closing in on my pure, darkless form. Even light is capture by black holes, and it can never escape.
But, as it always did, the darkness stopped at my bed, seemingly unable to ascend the quilt my mother draped over me. I continued to glow, defying the darkness that had dared to enter my room.
Tonight, though, my closet was banging louder than ever, insisting my fight against darkness was not yet over. Instead of keeping vigil over me all night, as it usually did, the darkness was sucked under the and between the closet doors until the room was nearly as bright as it had been before my bedroom door had closed. It seemed worse than simple darkness, this eerie light amid a clanging and gurgling closet, like an innocent prisoner awaiting execution.
And with a sound like a gunshot, the blow was dealt.
The closet had been opened, not by the bogeyman, but by my shadow. It had waited twelve years for its feast day, and finally, my essence was ripe for consumption.
In the light of my room, my body’s shadow innocently stretched to rest under my windowsill, tying me to the filthy, crusty carpet. my true shadow proudly strutted across the room to it, not giving me an instant of recognition. Turning from confidence to curiosity, my shadow knelt to meet the one my body cast, as though looking into a mirror for the first time. Tentatively, it held its dark hand to the one on the floor, touching it lightly to the unfeeling ground.
At that moment, my hand fell limp, while my shadow’s burned with flesh and bone, giving substance to the insubstantial being. It had no face yet, but its body rippled with joy at finally becoming real.
Taking no time for needless ceremony, my shadow flung itself onto the floor, engulfing the absence of light. My body slumped heavily onto a pile of pillows, now useless with its master gone.
My true shadow, all the hatred and sin caused by my obstruction of the light of righteousness, now controlled my body. Suddenly, everything else about my had become meaningless.
And now the lights are off, and there’s nothing to scare the shadows away.