There is hole in my psyche. I can never quite understand what makes me and I am constantly thwarted by the shadows that come and go in my life. Happiness has always been a choice for me, but sometimes that choice is stolen by the unexpected.
The collateral damage that grief has on my life is significant. It is strange because as I get older, I encounter death and loss more often. Perhaps I should be better prepared for the future moments that will draw shadows from my past. It is embedded in the craft I chose to pursue and in my writing; I know I occasionally drip some of my pain from my pen. It cannot be helped and in a way it helps me find a voice for some of my characters, often the darkest of them.
Today I rekindled much of the sadness that has followed me as I opened my eyes in the misshapen light of pre-dawn. Alone with my thoughts, I felt that crush which comes with sad news and as always, my reaction is to figure out my smile for the world. I laugh loudest when the darkness comes, for I am not one to be defeated easily.
Late yesterday evening, we had a strange experience in our house, one that set me on edge and not to be reported here. Rarely do I have a witness to what hovers around me when I am at my lowest, but we both witnessed an unexplainable event and yet I am not surprised. This morning my shadow man returned as I waited in to silence of the early morning.
While he never changes in appearance, each time he is different. Those familiar with my Mr. Squiggles, will know the name I gave to him, has not had the desired effect of lessening his menace. I watched him in the darkness and he drew closer than he has in the past. Although he did not touch me, I felt him. People often use the expression, the hairs stood up on their neck. I felt them rise along my whole body, my arms, and my outer thigh. There was a touch of frost about me but I wasn’t afraid.
What I felt was involuntary. Something ancient stirred, to remind me to be afraid and my body reacted but not my mind. So I looked straight at my shadow man and he was neither distinct nor vague. He was just there, perhaps a foot from my face, examining me. I could feel the tightness in my chest and he lingered, as if he knew something and had come for me this morning at last. But then he drew back.
There was a moment of hesitation before he slithered away, sinking low and then he disappeared beneath the bottom of the curtains. I watched the flurry of silent movement and the faded shadow of Mr. Squiggles beneath them, and then he was gone.
And what of it you say? It has been some time since last we met he and I. There is no reason for him to visit me that can be perceived as good; there is no version of the world where Mr. Squiggles is benign. We all have our ghosts and our own version of Mr. Squiggles, though few I suspect are as manifest as he. It is just that despite what you may think from reading this, despite your beliefs, disbeliefs or incredulity, my Mr. Squiggles is very real. No one is more sceptical than I, yet here I am again declaring my strange shadow man to be tangible. My creature of the night, watching and waiting, knowing something, sensing something in me and always there almost it seems, in the hope of acquiring my soul.
I know he will be back. His visits are infrequent, often portentous; sometimes I suspect they are born of his curiosity. It is as though he is impatient with me, wondering why I have not yet succumbed to his darkness.
I have written some very dark tales, especially in my Darkly Wood series, but none as dark as Mr. Squiggles. My day has passed without event and I dragged the light from the darkness with a smile and a quip as I always do. It’s what I do. But I know he will return. He will be there again, a shadow man hiding in the shadow of the night, on my window ledge or in the corner of my room, impatiently checking in on me, hoping. It always seems as though he knows something that I don’t. Perhaps he does. If one day I figure out his purpose, I will surely tell you, or perhaps by then, it will be too late…
Haven’t read a Max Power book yet? I think it’s time to pick one up.
Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes, Flynn, Bad Blood and Little Big Boy
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