It.

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[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_blockquote cite=”” type=”left” class=”introduction”]An unsettling story of a narrator struggling with a mysterious companion, by John Stammers. ‘It’ was the winner of Albert’s Creative Writing competition in December ’15.[/x_blockquote][x_image type=”rounded” src=”http://www.rebelessex.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/It_Illustation_1.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” class=”image”][cs_text class=”caption”]Illustration by Lucy Oestmann, @2016[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]It’s always there. Everywhere I go.

It walks with me, it showers with me, and it sleeps with me. I say it walks with me. I mean I can feel it close on my heels with its hands on my shoulders and its breath on my neck. I say it showers with me. I mean it shouts and screams at me, drowning out the sound of the water. All I can do is listen. I say it sleeps with me. I mean it keeps me awake.

Every night when I strip naked, turn out the light, and climb into bed, I can feel it slither beneath the covers and lie over me. Sometimes it’s huge and weighs me down, suffocating me. Sometimes it’s a skinny little thing that pokes and tickles and scratches, and all I can do is toss and turn and hope it goes away. And then sometimes it doesn’t slither into bed with me at all. One might think those are the nights I cherish most. But they would be wrong, because if it isn’t next to me then it’s hiding. Watching. It’s in my wardrobe or it’s under my bed or it’s hanging from the ceiling. All I know is that it’s there and those are the nights when I cannot sleep. How can I without knowing where it is?

I ask, “Where are you? What do you want?”

It likes to wrap its arms around me, caress my face, and kiss my neck. It doesn’t matter if we’re alone or if there are hundreds around me. There are times when it’s so warm I convince myself that it comforts me, that it keeps me safe, that it makes me happy. However, there are times when it’s so hot that I can sweat whilst it’s snowing, and panic consumes me as I fear I might melt. I want to run, I want to breathe, I want to feel calm. But it won’t let me. But then there are times when it’s so cold it’s like pushing through a blizzard on a summer’s day. I could wear a thousand layers and still feel naked.
A friend and I could be talking one-to-one or I could be amongst countless friends at a party. It will still be there. Sometimes it will just stand in the corner of the room watching me. Judging me. No matter what I’m doing, chatting or drinking or dancing, I have to keep looking over. I’m not even sure why. Sometimes it will encompass the entire room. No matter where I look, there it is. I can’t ignore it, I can’t forget it, I can’t pretend it’s not there. And then sometimes it isn’t there at all. One might think those are the moments I cherish most. But they would be wrong. Just because I can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Maybe it’s around the corner, waiting to jump out at me. Maybe it’s under the table or under the desk. Or maybe it’s hiding behind a friend and is watching me over their shoulder. All I know is that it’s somewhere and those are the moments when I cannot speak. How can I without knowing where it is?

I ask, “Where are you? What do you want?”

It has no face but I can see it. It has no ears but hears everything. It has no mouth but I hear it speak. It has no hands but I feel its touch. It has no feet but it travels. It has no brain but knows all. It has no form but it exists.

It speaks but I hear my own voice, my own words. It talks to me when I try to sleep and as soon as I wake up. I even hear it in my dreams and in my nightmares. It talks to me whenever I look at my face in the mirror and whenever I look down at myself. It talks whenever somebody else isn’t, and even then it doesn’t always shut up. Occasionally, it won’t be my voice but another’s. There’ll be times when I hear the one I love, and there’ll be times when I’ll hear the one I hate. Sometimes it will shout that I’m a freak, I’m a fool, I’m a failure. I’m ugly, I’m useless, I’m worthless. It screams that I will never be loved, and it will be the only thing that will stand by me forever. Sometimes it will whisper and remind me of all the wrong I have done, and the wrong I have yet to do. It reminds me of all the people I have hurt, and all the people I have yet to hurt. It reminds me of all those I have disappointed, and those I have yet to disappoint. And then sometimes it doesn’t speak to me at all. One might think I cherish the silence. But they would be wrong. The silence scares me most of all. If it’s silent then it’s thinking… Plotting… Laughing. All I know is that if it’s quiet then there’s a reason, and those are the times when I cannot even function. How can I without its guidance?

I ask, “Where are you? What do you want?”

Every day I see people, talk to people, laugh with people, and they don’t even know it’s there. Every time someone talks to me, hugs me, comforts me, I have to pretend it isn’t there. Every time someone teases me, laughs at me, humiliates me, I can’t help but acknowledge it. And every time someone ignores me, betrays me, hurts me, I always run back to it.

I ask, “Where would I be without you? What would I be without you?”
[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_image type=”none” src=”http://www.rebelessex.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/It_Illustation_2.jpg” alt=”” link=”false” href=”#” title=”” target=”” info=”none” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”” class=”image”][cs_text class=”caption”]Illustration by Lucy Oestmann, @2016[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]