The shower curtain lay strewn across the scarred tile in shreds. The mirror above the porcelain vanity was broken into many shards that barely clung to each other. Soap, shampoo, and conditioner splattered across the walls in a dizzying array of patterns. I stumbled out feeling the numbness sink deeper into my soul. I slowly walked into my bedroom and sank to my knees amid the wreckage. Torn pillows laid across my bed like ransacked bodies. My covers and curtains were literal ribbons draped across the now grooved hardwood floors. I ran my hand over my dresser and clutched a cracked picture frame of me and my ex best friend. I tossed it onto the bed and inhaled deeply. Smoke filled my nostrils and I choked. I slowly picked my way through my room and saw smoke drift up from across the bed. I hopped across the bed and leaned over snatching the cigarette from its mouth. It snarled whirling around quickly. Its large green eyes shone in the eery light making me pause slightly. Then I stuck the cigarette into my mouth and inhaled deeply. It tried to swipe it back but I held up my hand.
"I deserve this more than you, Don't you think?"
It cocked its head and I heard its claw scraped across the side of the bed as it rose. I beheld its form with familiar disgust and almost spat out my cigarettte. Its black matted fur glistened with blood and it slightly retracted its claws. It sniffed the smoky air, its pink nose wiggling and its whiskers shifting.
"What is it now?" I asked irritatedly.
"You know who it is." It snarled.
I walked out of the room cigarette in hand and made my way back into the livingroom. Seeing the wreckage again made my heart lurch. Tears welled in my eyes but I held them back. No use crying over the inevitable. I sat back down on my couch and rested my chin in my hands. I wanted to stop my hands from trembling, but I knew there was no point. He'd see right through me and know what had transpired. I hung my head letting shame fall over my shoulders like a familiar cloak. I took a puff of my cigarette and gritted my teeth. Three knocks sounded on the door and I tossed the cigarette into a cup that had somehow survived the carnage.
"It's not locked." I whispered.
The door opened and a man entered. He wore a simple button up shirt with red and white plaid and a pair of tan pants. His brown eyes snapped around the room and his thick brows furrowed. He had dark brown hair and a close cut beard. He looked at me sadly and I saw a tear fall. He nodded once and walked into the kitchen grabbing the broom. He swept up the broken glass and ceramic and all the trash. He picked up the curtains and laid them aside. Then he picked the piles of stuffing and put them in his pocket. I watched him uncertain if I should help or not. I usually just made it a bigger mess. He made his way through every room and did the same routine. I followed him into the bedroom knowing there'd be no way to hide it from him. He entered and I saw him frown at the smell of smoke. A clawed hand lifted a smoking cigarette slightly above the bed.
"Care to join us Father?" It asked acidicly.
The man worked his jaw and slowly strode over to where it sat crosslegged and smiling letting its fangs glint in the light seeping through the shattered windows.
"I'm not going to ask why. I'm not going to ask what caused it. I do want to know when it will stop." The man said strongly.
It took a puff and tapped its chin.
"Hmmm...Hard question Father. I'll get back to you on that, or better yet ask him. He's the one in control right?"
I ran my hands through my hair and sighed. My breathing shuddered and I felt sobs boil on my chest I held my breath.
It smirked shaking its head disparingly.
"I'm sorry." I whimpered. "It's so hard, but I know I should be better than that. I tried but he got too strong so fast. I couldn't stop him."
"I know It's hard for you. I know you've wanted me to banish him from your home but I will not. You'll be much stronger if I don't."
I tried to still my shaking hands.
"But It's been years!" I cried letting the tears stream down my face. "Every time I think I can control it, that I've won; something comes along and wears out his bonds. I don't know what else to do. It's so fast and strong. It can smother me in a second or strangle me over a period of months. There's no use because no matter how hard I try, he always beats me."
The man nodded slowly and squeezed my hand in his. I saw the sorrow and love mingling in the depths of his eyes and I knew he was right. I was done. I didn't even have to call him up this time like I did the times before. He knew I was ready to quit.
"All this time you've tried carrying your burden up a high craggy mountain by yourself. I can help you. I don't just have to clean up the mess. I can prevent it from getting that far. You know this but always resist it."
"It's not fair. Why should you worry about my problems? You shouldn't have to help me. Plenty of others have done it by themselves."
"That may be true, but you have a different monster. Theirs are as equally destructive but yours has lived here for a long time unnoticed by you or anyone else. I knew and I gave you a will strong to defeat it, but it strangled your will because you are also soft hearted. And this made it harder to control."
"If you would like, I'll stay here and help you when it gets too strong."
I nodded again. It growled softly.
"Name your monster and declare its power void. That's the first step like I've told you before."
"Every time I do that it gets deeper. I'm giving it validity."
"It is valid. But it is now in the light and can be defeated because you admit its existence. Not doing so allows it to hide in the shadows."
I sighed trying to stop the terror in my veins.
"Depression you are void." I stated simply.
The man nodded and motioned for me to do it louder. It stood up and extended its claws. I could hear the yowl in the back of its throat and tensed.
"Depression you are void. Anxiety you are void. Hopelessness you are void. Fear you are void." I called walking into the kitchen.
I heard it hissing. The man held up a hand. Other shapes slithered from the cabinets and slid out the broken windows. They didn't need as much commanding as the primary monster. I went into the bedroom and yelled, "Loneliness you are void!"
A shadow seeped from the closet and wailed as it slid out the window. I turned around and realized I could take a deep breath. My shoulders didn't ache as much.
"Ahem, did you miss me?" It asked.
I felt anger rush through me and I screamed. I smacked it in the face and punched it in the sides. It was his fault. He was why I was lonely. Why I was hopeless and anxious. He'd been in my house since I'd owned it but no more!
The man gripped my shoulders and whispered in my ear, "Anger does give you strength but it leaves you weak."
"I forgive you."
The monster balled its fists letting its claws dig into its paws. It glared at me menacingly. It dared me to call it out again. The man nodded clenching his jaw. He squeezed my shoulder reassuringly. I took a deep breath walking shakily towards the door. With a trembling hand, I opened it and let it swing wide. I could see the sunlight glinting off the oak tree outside. It growled low. I suppressed a shudder.
"When I am gone, you will be nothing but a hollow shell."
"That's how I feel regardless." I replied hoarsely.
I sucked a quick breath and released it slowly through my nose. I wondered how I could live without this monster since we'd been together for so long, but I knew it had to be infinitely better. If not, this was pointless. The man looked me in the eye as I breathed. I knew I was on the edge of a cliff and peering over it into the misty oblivion below.
"Depression you are void."
It yowled lunging at me with its ferocious claws. The man grabbed it by the neck and shoved it aside.
"You heard me." I replied evenly jutting my jaw for emphasis.
It hissed once long and loud. Then it spat at the man's feet. It walked outside the door eyeing me up and down.
"I'll be back." It snarled lifting its lip to reveal its glistening fangs.
"We'll be ready." I answered grabbing the man's hand for support.
He smiled at me, approval shining in his deep brown eyes. It stalked off into the woods roaring a challenge. I turned to the man and held him tightly. My tears soaked his shirt while he rubbed my back.
"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." I whispered over and over quaking in relief.
He pulled me back and looked me square in the eye.
"Do you want me to teach you how to keep it away now?"
I nodded. Warmth settled inside me like the sun encroaching on a beach the morning after a storm. Hope glimmered in my soul again.
"Where do I start?" I asked feeling a smile tug at my lips.
"First, we need to clean the house." he replied chuckling as he handed me a broom.
I'd never felt more ready.