It was coming back again. It always came back. You beat the monster until it was bruised and bloody and ducked its head away. You pounded against it until your fingers broke, twisted and crooked and sticking out at all the wrong angles.
But it kept coming back.
You had to fight it, because you couldn't run. Running made things worse. It would come, its form obscured by the darkness that follows it. You run from what you can't see, but it always finds you. It wraps around you, suffocating. Your throat closes, your lungs collapse, suffocating. It squeezes its long fingers just a little tighter around your neck. Your heart pumps nothing but fear until you wish it would pump nothing at all. Anything but this. Squeeze a little tighter, monster. Suck the life out of me, fiend.
So you can't run. Running is giving in. Running is handing yourself over to the monster. Running is your death sentence
I know that now. I know standing to fight is harder. Your body shakes like Haiti. The ground rolls under your feet while you square your shoulders and take a deep breath. You stare it down. Eyes glare back at you. Not red or yellow or any colorjust eyes. Staring. Waiting. And you charge before it can put you in its toxic grip.
I start with a kick, with a strength that doesn't belong to me. It's been borrowed from someplace else: a friend, a song.
And sometimes the kick lands. The monster's claws disappear. Then come the punches. They come from yourself, from your strength, and you know that the monster is no match for you. It howls and slides back into its darkness where it lived before. You step out of the arena. Bruises color your skin, your swollen lips bleed, your blood mixes with your hair. But they heal and harden and turn into scars, and your scars are your pride. From them, you become stronger. The more you have, the better you can fight.
And sometimes the kick misses and your punches shatter your bones instead of the monster's. You stumble away and wipe the tears and snot off. You look in the mirror, look at your faceyour nose, your teeth, everythingand everything is wrong.
No, you don't know how I feel.