I woke up in a hurry, drenched in sweat, my clothes glued to my body. This happened every once in a while, but it hadn’t since my wife left me. I turned to my right to look at the clock, in disbelief that it showed only 4:00 A.M. I got up from my bed and stripped down to my underwear as I walked towards the bathroom. My path blurred from my heavy eyes, yet that didn’t seem to stop me from reaching my destination.
I entered the bathroom and flicked the light switch, but nothing happened. The heavy burden my eyes were facing now disappeared. They finally fully opened as I tried the switch a few more times. I gave up, not thinking anything of it, turning the sink on in the frightening darkness to wash my face. I assumed a few splashes of water would help fully wake me up. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep with the memories of my wife and the happiness I used to have haunting me. The constant emotions and torment I dealt with, keeping them locked up, with the key in a shape of a liquor bottle.
I turned the sink off, and suddenly felt a stabbing pain in my back, like something was trying to take hold of me. I grabbed both sides of the sink to keep myself from falling helplessly to the ground. After the pain subsided, I looked up into the dark mirror and stumbled back in utter fear. It wasn’t me; or me fully. There were thick red cracks in my skin, almost like glowing pieces of a puzzle. I slowly walked towards the mirror for a closer look and the cracks were still there.
“What is this?” I said aloud, slowly caressing them with the tips of my fingers. Was this God showing me how broken I actually was? Or was this all in my head? I started screaming, not caring if it woke my son or not. I punched the mirror with my bare fist, and as soon as the pieces fell to the ground the light flicked on. I looked at my hands and arms and unless my eyes were continuously playing tricks on me, the cracks had resolved.
My hand started to hurt as I gained back the memory of what I had just done. I quickly went to get something to clean this mess and I saw my son in my bedroom, looking at me with tears in his eyes. “It’s okay, I’m okay.” I said to him, falling to my knees, looking into his concerned eyes. “How long were you there for?” I asked, wiping his tears. “I saw it all daddy, but don’t worry . . . that wasn’t you.” I looked at him in shock that we had shared the same vision and was cautious with how I continued this conversation.
I stood back up to my feet and started to wrap my blood-stained hand with a towel. “What do you mean, boy?”
“We all have monsters inside – yours feeds on your pain from when mommy left, and you fuel it with drinking.” He whispered to me, not even flinching. I looked at him blankly, remembering back all the times I had not only neglected him, but neglected myself by drowning my sorrows in alcohol.
Not knowing what to say or what to think, I asked him if he had also seen monsters, but he denied it. Yet something in his denial told me that he wasn’t saying the whole truth. Something told me that these lies were to protect me from having to endure his agony on top of my own. I was confused as to how he knew this, but I wanted to rid the image of what I had seen in the mirror from my head. I walked him back to his bed, and tucked him in, making sure that he was okay and comfortable.
“I love you so much boy, I am so sorry that I haven’t been there for you when you needed me the most. I’m sorry that I ignored the fact that mommy left you, too.” I said quietly, almost choking on my words trying to stop my tears from escaping. He turned away from me, not saying a word. The air was filled with a crisp silence and I started to walk out of his room.
As I tiptoed back to my room to clean the mess, his door slammed shut behind me.
“DADDY!” My boy yelled, over and over again. I could hear him breathing heavily with fear. I ran to his door and tried to open it but it wouldn’t budge. I started to slam my shoulder into it as I yelled, “BOY! BOY! Are you OKAY?” Yet I heard nothing come back from the other side.
Even my shoulder slamming into the door was not strong enough for whatever brute was holding it. As soon as I almost gave up on that strategy, the door flung open and I could see my son, pale as could be. He looked like his soul had left this world, robbing him of his courage, and wouldn’t be returning anytime soon. I ran to him, and embraced him in my arms, never wanting to let go or take advantage of his love again.
“What happened, boy?” I asked wiping his hair from his beautiful face, locking my eyes with his glistening green ones.
“Daddy…there is a monster under my bed!” He wept.
I felt like I needed to look, but I believed him after what I had seen earlier. I dropped down using every ounce of valor in my body. As I peered under his bed, I saw my son . . . but not fully him. The figure looked exactly like my son, but with thick, glowing red cracks in the form of the same puzzle pieces as mine.
The creature looked tortured, and seemed to be relieved to see my face . . .
“Daddy, there’s a monster on top of my bed!” He said to me pointing up. I grabbed the bed rail to lift myself back up, fearfully checking on my son atop of the bed. As I moved, I saw my hand from the corner of my eye and realized that the red cracks had returned and were all over me again. I collapsed back, flat on my butt, staring at both, traumatized by what was happening right before my eyes.
The creature crawled out from under the bed and tackled me, seeking comfort. I couldn’t seem to move my body, trying to seek answers in my head for what was happening.
The boy on top of the bed stood up, looking at me and the creature in my arms with hopeless eyes.
“See daddy, we all have our monsters.”