Without warning about 20 years ago, I encountered an adversary the likes of which I’d never known had even existed before. It nearly finished me. My marriage was heading onto the rocks, my career hit a brick wall and my social life disappeared, since I was too afraid to venture out.
Somehow, I survived. Just.
As the years rolled by, the memory softened until, after two decades, it really didn’t seem that bad. Selective memory, I guess you’d call it.
You tell yourself that the terror of those days long past were exaggerations. You let your guard down.
And that is when it comes back for you. You are older; but not wiser. The fact that you survived it once does not help. It all seems new.
It hunts you late at night mostly, which is when you’re at your weakest. It snipes at you from its lair with guerilla warfare tactics designed to wear you down; hit and run and divide and conquer as it turns you against your significant other and watches while you fight amongst yourselves.
If you manage to sleep, your days are one long haze, dragging you towards the next midnight battle. The fear is with you all through the daylight hours.
It shows no mercy though. It sleeps in the day to recuperate and gathers strength; it grows its nails to scratch you and its teeth to bite you. And, confident in its powers, it smiles. Oh, how it smiles.
It projects innocence and helplessness but you know it’s just a trick to put you at ease; and to make you believe that tonight it will leave you in peace. That tonight you can sleep.
You tiptoe to bed in the hope that it’s true. You lay down your head on the soft forgiving pillow and, just as you close your eyes, you hear it.
It is the scream of the midnight banshee, the siren of the damned that bounces off the walls with a shrill that can break mirrors, penetrates every brain cell and seals your sleepless fate for another night.
Yet, you cannot resist your adversary. It is too clever and you are no match for its superior intellect. Without remorse, it sucks at your very fibre and cunningly manipulates and strangles you with your own love.
It does not need language. It knows only one word and, with a vocabulary of one, this pocket-battleship can destroy you. And just when you cannot take any more, when you’re ready to run, to cry, to bang your head against the wall; it unleashes its deadliest weapon. That one word:
Then all is lost for another night as your resistance crumbles yet again.
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