A Short Man

A man laying in bed contemplates life and his existential fears about its
meaning. The man is short, with a hair cut not unlike a soldier, except
accidental bald spots leads one to believe he cuts his hair himself. No
tears are shed this early morning. Instead crippling anxiety about what may
lay ahead in the man’s life. Decisions are to be made, but the sheer number
of expectations make the man freeze, unable to move. Self-deprecation is
his mind’s favorite theme today. “You have no skills, no loved ones, you
cannot do a goddamn thing”, says his mind. Painful insults are thrown at
himself repeatedly, obsessing and mulling over the sharpness of each word,
like a dagger plunging into his heart at every waking moment. This man has
never been able to pull himself out of a catatonic trance such as this.
Perhaps today is the day, he hopes and he prays.

The man recognizes the patterns of his avoidant behaviors. Indulgence,
gluttony, and substance abuse. “Can one quit these things all at once?” He
wonders. A reply, a small quiet voice from the back of his mind, “People
are slow to change, people are slow to adapt, but the individual has more
power than they may think”. The man calms himself for a moment, the panic
and fear slowly subsides. He chooses to answer to this new voice, “who are
you?”. “I am you, while at the same time I am not you”. The cryptic words
jangle around in the man’s mind. “Can you truly control me, can you even
differentiate me and the voice which haunts you everyday. Unlikely, for I
am all of the voices you hear. Everything you hear in your mind is me.
Please help me, for alone I cannot fully live, and if I am to be with you
entirely, I will consume you. I do not wish to hurt you, I wish to save you
but I fear I may have pushed you too far”. The voice quiets. The man waits
for more voices to come his way, but nothing appears in the void of his
mind.

The man chooses to speak at the body-less voice, “When I chase you, why
do you run, when I ignore you, why do you shout?”. No response. “How can
you be me but also not be me at the same time, I simply do not understand”.
Still no answer to the desperate questions coming from the short man. “The
individual is overrated, we are all cogs in a machine, a cog with no use
such as myself, has no meaning”. A pained cry comes to the man in his mind.
“I know you hurt, because I am the one who hurt you, please forgive me”.
The voice sounds tired. The man has grown numb and apathetic over the
years, his voice has become rusty from disuse. “I have figured out who you
are voice, you’re my ego, and I have come to hate you. You are the reason I
am here, all alone in this room with wallpaper coiling around itself, ready
to jump at me like a snake hunting a rat.” The man begins shaking from the
anger boiling within him. The voice says in a melancholy tone, “I have used
fear and obsession to try and help you survive in the world, I did not know
it would do this to you, please forgive me. I cannot control it, the harder
I try to stop, the louder and angrier I become. It feels as though I am
compelled to speak to you, it is a reflex I fear cannot be changed.” The
man sits in silence for what feels like hours.

“I have decided then. If I cannot truly control you, and if you are a
part of me so to speak, we must learn to live together, heart, mind, and
body. As hard as it is to do so, I forgive you. Through hard effort I
believe I will be able to accept that you did all of this to try and keep
me alive. I have been told by numerous doctors and therapists that in order
to begin healing, I must come to learn to love myself. Until today I did
not believe that there was an ounce of truth to that teaching, but as I
felt more and more about forgiveness, I felt a weight being lifted off of
me. I am a spider that was to be crushed, the sympathy and love from the
foot that would lead to my demise stopped. Strange how something that seems
so simple and foolish can ultimately save us. Perhaps it was I who have
become foolish. It is a journey in which we are bound to, until the end. I
will be there for you when you need me”. “And I you.” The voice says
quietly.

The man whose mind was once an onslaught of suffering has quieted. He was
able to leave his small room. Just before walking out the door, the man
stood up straight. It appears he is not so short after all.

-Thoughts of a Writing Freak

Short Story

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