Back Demon by Ashlie Allen
My back doesn’t like it when I have anxiety attacks and cancel plans with friends. When I prostrate myself against the floor and weep, it stabs my nerves until I cry out like a ghost feeling its mortal body rotting. If I talk to someone, the ache goes away. If I make a phone call and don’t stutter, the stiffness leaves. I don’t want to communicate most of the time, but the demon in my back hurts me if I stay silent and hide.
Before the demon collided with my spine, we used to get along. We would watch TV together and dust crumbs off each other’s chest. “I enjoy you.” he used to say. “Don’t ever make me angry.” I had three friends which I spoke to four days a week when I was a teenager. They made me happy. Just being around them I felt like I had a purpose, like the anxiety I suffered was unimportant and silly. They made me feel like my disorders were imaginary.
One night after spending time with them, I came home and had a breakdown. I stammered through the house, semi-conscious, my hands knocking things down as I felt the devastation of panic and shame. I had made a stupid joke and no one laughed. I had also spilled my water across the dinner table. The embarrassment was so overwhelming I wanted to cry, pinch my arms or jerk out my hair. I spent hours reimagining how I could have done things differently. I imagined I didn’t have anything to drink. I imagined I stayed quiet and didn’t bore anyone with my dull humor.
After that night, every time I went out, I did not have a beverage, did not talk. If someone laughed, I thought they were laughing at me and my timid behavior. I walked around with murderous eyes and shaking hands.
I asked the demon what I should do next. I confessed I was unbearably lonely and wanted human contact, but at the same time I was terrified of company. “Quit pitting yourself and speak up.” he said. “You’ll never be satisfied if you are all alone.” “Tell me what to do.” I said. “Help me!” I was so tormented and exhausted that when I saw him running towards me, I did not realize he was coming to attack me. With his sharp nails, he tore the skin on my back, placed his feet inside my muscles and let the rest of himself sink inside of me.
This caused such pain that my ears started ringing and I saw black. I thought I was going to vomit up my organs. I tried to pull him out, but he only sank deeper. I heard him screaming from beneath my skin. “Get a social life. Get close enough to someone you could kiss. Tell them what your heart thinks of theirs. Make yourself complete. Love someone.”
The next day, I called one of my friends. “Please come over.” I said. “I think I’m dying.” There was a pounding sound at the door an hour later. I answered it, nearly falling against my friend, whose name was Adoncia. “Is there mercy here?” I touched her heart. “Do I make you feel loved?” She helped me to my couch, where I let myself stretch, and where she sat on my lap. “The truth is I miss you.” she said. “I’ve always had a crush on you.” I writhed when she tried to put her mouth against mine, but the demon, sending his insufferable pain, persuaded me to let her give me a kiss. “I am not adored.” I kept whispering until I became drowsy. “This bothers me so much. I don’t want contact, but I grieve without it.” She rubbed her fingers down my face, sighing like for a moment, she sensed my depression. “Keep her. You’re silly to suffer when someone is fascinated with you.” I heard the demon’s voice inside my head.
Adoncia stayed with me that night. She stroked my hair until my scalp was numb. “I have a confession.” I said at two in the morning. “Mmmhmm. Say it.” she moaned. “I am possessed. It is for my own good though. I am weak, so a satanic creature entered me to offer power. It’s like a punishment that has a radiant outcome. I can see what is wrong with me through the abuse.”
I smiled when I saw she had fallen asleep against my collar bone. Maybe she didn’t need to hear the truth. Maybe she was possessed too. I carried her into my bedroom, where she rested as I rubbed my back and laughed until morning.
Ashlie Allen is a fiction writer and poet. She is also a photographer. Her favorite writer is Anne rice. She loves the Autumn season.