I woke up that morning, the same as every other morning. I shut off my alarm, I stretched, I yawned, I checked my emails and eventually I got out of bed. I stood up and I was face to face with my Shadow. I brushed passed him to the bathroom. He was always there, my shadow, watching me, waiting for any minor slip up he could use to berate or tease me with. I had got used to him by now, got better at zoning him out, but he was always there. And while his words had lost their sting, there were still days where they packed a punch.
I was brushing my teeth and looking at my self in the mirror. “You look like shit today.” My Shadow noted.
No one else could see my Shadow. He was mine. My own personal tormentor.
I got dressed, ate my toast and made my way to work.
My Shadow hated the train. People were loud, and obnoxious, and it made him furious. He seethed silently and I knew he would just take it out on me later.
There were times when my Shadow was quiet, and other times I couldn’t see him at all. He hated dogs, and every time one came near he would vanish. When I was with friends he would mope in a corner of the room, I couldn’t see him, and he’d be silent, but I was always aware that he was there, lingering just on the edge of my consciousness.
On very few occasions, someone would walk past and look directly at my Shadow, and then at me. I’d see a few paces behind them would be their own scowling visage, just like mine. We would smile sadly at each other and keep on walking, we knew we couldn’t help.
I spent that entire day at work being criticized for every move I made. My Shadow would laugh at my phone-calls, he would tease my awkward conversations with co-workers.
“No one here likes you anyway.”
“Why bother talking to anyone?”
“You’re going to fail, just quit.”
Work was hard that day, and my Shadow’s words felt louder than usual. They felt truer than usual.
The train ride home was busy, there was a game on. We hated the train.
Once home, I sat down on the couch and closed my eyes. I cried. I’m not sure why. I wasn’t in any pain, I wasn’t really sad, I certainly wasn’t happy. I just cried.
When I opened my eyes my Shadow was standing over me, he was holding a pistol. He held it out to me.
“Why bother?” He asked. “You just have to do it again tomorrow, and the next day.” I shook my head, still crying. I closed my eyes and screamed trying to drown out my Shadow’s words: “It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it.” When I opened them again, my Shadow was gone, and I was the one holding the gun.
I walked to the bathroom, the pistol felt heavy in my hand. I looked in the mirror and saw my Shadow. Not behind me, not next to me, it was me. I had lost all control.
I looked at the gun. My phone buzzed. A message, a picture of a dog, smiling. I smiled back at it. I looked from the picture to the gun. Tears were still streaming down my face.
I looked into the mirror and saw myself again. My Shadow was now standing behind me, shaking his head.
“You know, I’ll still be here tomorrow.” He said.
I smiled. “And so, will I.”