View Full Version : Original Fiction: The Monster Before Me

08-11-2007, 05:43 AM
This is a short piece I wrote years and years ago, originally as fanfiction. I adapted it to an original work back in high school, submitted it to a contest, and won first place. Recently I decided to rework it again and completely change the ending. I'm not 100% sure of it yet, and consider this a fairly rough first draft. Make sure you read it quickly before I get in the mood to tear it off here and rework it again!

However, without further ado...

The Monster Before Me

Rain like tears streak down the black glass, colder than ice to the touch. I rest my forearm against it, barely registering the involuntary shudder and inevitable goose bumps it evokes, and am reminded of the black ice local newsreaders are excited about every winter season. It a cold and morbidly silent killer, commuters the hapless prey. My breath mists unevenly against the slick surface, drawing my attention to the solemn, watery gaze peering back at me. I don’t have to touch my cheeks to know the wetness is an illusion dreamed up by the pounding rain. It has been a long time since I last cried. Sometimes I wonder if I remember how, which muscles control what, what emotions should trigger an outburst. And the heavens continue mocking me when I hear her stir, drowsily rousing herself from a long sleep.

Voice thick with dreams, she calls to me.

“Nothing,” I answer, too levelly. And everything. A creak of springs and she is there beside me, a silhouette of white in the windowpanes. “Go back to sleep,” I tell the figure. “Please.” One pale hand snakes toward my face, brushes my cheek with the gentleness of a moth’s wing. I shudder again, though I am not sure I feel anything more than a breeze. She says nothing. She never need say anything. And then, because she understands, she turns, glides from my side and back to a warm but empty bed. Leaving me alone with my ghost.

I wanted to be just like him. He was beloved by everyone, my brother. Half-brother, but it never mattered. I idolized him, dreamed of him. When he let me I followed his every step, trailing at his heels like a timidly trusting puppy. I was six years old.

“Go on home. Go on home, Tag-Along,” he said to me, patience wearing thin for the little brother who would mimic his every move, tongue clenched firmly between loose teeth. Looking back I’m surprised he had the patience he did for the brother clinging desperately, limpet-like to his idol.

I lived for those days, basking in the glow of what I saw to be his perfection. I would trot along behind him, short stumpy legs easily outmatched by his much longer legs and stride. Somehow he always knew when I was just short of exhaustion in the chase and, with a pat on my head and tousle of my hair he would send me home again. Like an animal, like the pet puppy that I suppose I was. Go on home, Tag-Along.

Off again he would be with his friends, leaving me broken-hearted but hopeful in his diminishing shadow. Always he would turn back to me, just enough to give me a kindly cruel smile and casual wave. I would give anything for that smile he tossed away. I would give my arm, my leg, my life itself for that smile to be for me.

That was before he tore our lives and my heart apart.

I swore long ago I would never trust, never love again. I counted on the very monstrosity of my past to ward off those who would get close to me. I nested about myself, built a cocoon I thought nobody could penetrate, and hoped it would last me through my waking nightmares of the past.

And then I met her.

She laughed at my anger, reached past my barriers, and took hold of me. Bit by bit, strand by strand, she wore away my defenses, slipping in further every time I was distracted by her laughter, her carefree smiles. I saw my brother in her lit, smiling face and, weakened, allowed her in. Too late I realized I had fallen in love with her, had learned to trust in another again.

I look away from the window, away to the stillness that is the bed and the lump that is the figure huddled within it. I know she is awake. She is always still, but awake, alert for my cries that never come. She is stubborn. She will feign sleep for as long as I can stand here brooding. And if she wins this night, if I return to bed this night, I know she will finally settle into real sleep next to me with a weary but trusting sigh. She hungers savagely for my tears, but will settle for my familiar warmth.

“Kill me now.”

Rain continues to fall, an unceasing stream down my window as I stare into the distorted eyes of the thing that was once human. Wide and searching they peer into me for the compassion it thinks I must possess.

“Kill me now,” it pleads again, and I look into the upturned, beseeching face of what had once been my idol, my brother. It still has his eyes, still possesses his mouth though, thankfully, is not smiling. He knows me. There is no room for fear, or scorn, or even amazement that his little brother should have grown into a man. There is only room in his gaze for pain.

I find myself unable to look away from the thing, the monster that is my brother. My throat is raw with unshed tears, my tongue longs to wrap itself around his name once more as I cry. I remain silent, still the urgency of my tongue, and swallow back the tears that cannot come. He watches me, a ravenous yearning in eyes swimming in torrents of rain.

“Please Tag-Along.”

No, please, not that. Not the name he and I shared together, the name that was his alone to speak, and mine alone to respond to. And my world shudders, shakes, and falls to pieces around me, just as it did that night so many years ago.

I hear the voices still, sounding as ghostly whispers deep within my ears, something only I can listen to, and only I am tortured with. Some things never really leave you, and the sounds and memories of that night will play before me until my death, and perhaps even beyond. Their vividness drowns out even the rain.

Once again I am six years old. I huddle, shivering, in the back of the coat closet, squeezed between the thick winter coats smelling of must and aging rubber boots oozing the remnants of rainy days. I fold myself into a ball, a wiry scrap of a child. And past the door, through the wooden slats I can just barely peek through, the voices in the kitchen rage on. My world is shaking, cracks splintering from my feet.

My mother, who loves him almost as much as I do, tells him to leave. She tells her shining, fair-haired, beloved boy never to return. My idol, my brother, my sun and stars, has just blackened her eye. Now she stands before him, trembling with something akin to fear, and demands that he leave our home.

She found the gun, and the money. In a moment of willful determination she confronted him, presented them to him, looked to him for innocence as she begged for an explanation. She found it hidden in his sock drawer. She hopes to God she is not right in thinking him fallen.

“Why?” she said through taunt white lips. “Didn’t I give you everything I could, anything you could want?”

He laughed, laughed in her face drained of all color. Through his smile he told her not to worry. He had done a favor for a friend, nothing more. She drew herself together and called him a liar. That was when he hit her. That was when I ran, ran for the dubious safety of the closet. I could see them through the slatted door, at war. And I could hear my mother… Hear her…

“You’re just like your father!” She throws it at him, a trembling hand pressed to her eye, knowing it will strike home, and he crumples backward as if struck himself.

“No…” he says in the voice of the boy he once was, a tremulous cry, and a plea for forgiveness. His downward-facing eyes have widened, childlike in their shock, their pain. He looks back up to her white face, almost entreatingly. “No!” His cry is harsh, choking on the edge of a sob. He raises the gun he had held so casually. It wavers in his grip, perhaps due to the brimming tears in his eyes.

“He hit me, and then he hit you, and I left him for that.” She pauses, gaze held by the faltering gun. Somewhere she finds the strength to confront both it and her son. “I left him…but you are your father’s son now!” Her voice is as harsh as a raven’s, echoing a doomsday prophecy. It echoes even within the small confines of the closet, where I remain motionless in horror.

I watch my brother’s face crumple spasmodically, watch the tears stream over his cheeks, watch his finger convulse on the trigger. It is louder than the most frightening crash of thunder, and there is nothing left for me in this world as my mother dies at my brother’s feet. He runs, leaving me alone in the closet watching red overtake white on the kitchen tiles.

I shed all my tears that night over the loss of the two people I loved best in the world. I stood dry-eyed through the funeral, and through the long days and weeks of being shuffled between faceless relatives. I joined the realm of the living a long time later, but not alone. I brought along my ghosts, who remain with me always and are running rampant this stormy night. And to this day, I will not cry.

I look to my brother’s eyes in the monster at the window. I see the light in them die and fade away to nothing. He looks relieved somehow, as if death has come and not the haunting memories of a night many years ago that replays relentlessly. He looks to me for the forgiveness I do not think I can grant him.

As the rain washes down the blackened glass, all the anger, all the countless pleas, all the old, old pain stirs once more. It chokes me, clawing at my throat as I am pulled down. I fight, as I always fight, striking out at the ghosts always tormenting me with the truth. And then I stop; the will drained from my limbs, and let them remind me once more.

I don’t remember when she realized the truth about me. I don’t remember whether she pried the words from my lips with a kiss or I offered them as tribute of my love. I remember a long silence. I remember her beautiful, laughing face taking on a deathly pallor, the smile snatched from her lips. She stumbled away from me, dropping the arm she had clung to only moments before.


I reached for her, continued even as she moved further and further from my reach. I struggled to find the words to bring her back to my side.

“You…” she whispered again, turning whiter than I thought imaginable.

“I love you. It shouldn’t matter. What’s in the past is in the past. Why should it matter?”

Her hands fluttered ungainly for a moment before clawing together in front of her slack-jawed mouth. Her eyes brimmed with tears. “You… You monster!”

She ran from me then, ran from the monster she had not seen until that very moment. My last memory of her was that, her back as she fought her way away from me. I never saw her again, except in one of my many ghosts. She is the ghost warming the sheets tonight, waiting for me to accept my defeat.

“Hush, now, hush…” the ghost of the woman I loved rocks me gently, as if I were a small child in her arms. She will not allow me to suffer alone. She knows who I am and loves me still. I let myself be comforted in the embrace I cannot feel and look into the face in the window. He watches me still; tempting me to delve once more into the past I want desperately to forget, but never will. I shut my eyes to the memory, and open them to the face in the glass I know to be my own.

“Kill me now,” I whisper to my reflected face. I watch my lips move thickly in the pane of glass, see my eyes that long for the forgiveness that will not come.

I remember the panic-stricken cries of my brother in the coat closet. I must have seen him go in. I remember the gripping terror of what I had just done knocking me back, away from my mother’s body on the floor. I remember stepping away and away and away from both Tag-Along in the closet and my mother in a pooling puddle of blood.

And I ran; ran from his cries and her silence, and from what I had become with the deliberate twitch of a finger. I reached for the idolized vision of me my brother had once had, and that I had ripped away from him. When it eluded my grasp, when I found there was no compassion to be had for myself, I turned to my brother instead. I turned to the innocence of his short, stubby legs always chasing me. I turned to him to redeem myself of my crimes. Through him only witnessing my mother’s death has scarred me, not committing the crime. I would be broken but not alone.

It is nights like this that always bring the truth back to me. I murdered my mother and abandoned my brother. I ran from her blood and his despair and into my own personal hell. It is nights like this one that I am able to see myself as I truly am, as the woman I loved penned me. I am a monster undeserving of forgiveness, unable to love and be loved. I am a man alone with his ghosts and unable to cry the tears that will allow forgiveness.

“Kill me now.”