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We Create Our Own Demons
‘“We create our own demons.”’
‘Demons are a creation of man. They used the depiction of humanoid beasts with red skin and malicious grins and evil intent as a source of everyone’s hardships. But we do create our own demons. We are the ones who gave it a name and a description but everyone has them inside of them. We just can’t always identify which demon is the most important or which is best to ignore. Instead we flounder in our own fears and drown in—’
“Nerd,” the boy muttered with a snicker as his fingers shoved the papers off the desk. His black hair was swept out of his mischievous glinting brown eyes and his red-and-white football jersey, which wasn’t even his, hung loosely over his frame.
Elizabeth let out a small sigh and glared at the boy’s back as he walked away. She bent over in her chair and picked up the papers, rearranging them the way they were while she tucked her wavy blonde hair back behind her ear. It wasn’t that unusual for this sort of thing to happen to her; she was used to it and usually she would just ignore it.
Demons can’t hurt you, she thought as she picked up her pencil and continued writing. The people in school can’t hurt you, no matter how much they may try.
The freshman closed her green eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out along with the anger she was feeling toward her whole class. She was going to be above all of them and not let them upset her. Instead she was going to write her papers until class was over and then she would be free from their harsh words and childish bullying.
Where was I? she thought to herself as she skimmed the page. Oh, right.
‘—we flounder in our own fears and drown in our own sorrows. Some demons can be worse than others, driving the person to near insanity. There can be some taunting one over the fact that they won’t be able to pay their rent. Another could be pushing the person, “Just try it, it’ll be fun; you know you want to, just light it up.” But we ignore them. For as long as we can, that is. But there’s always a point where the demons catch up and manage to latch a claw onto the back of your neck, pulling you to a stop or sometimes even strong enough to jerk you back a few steps.’
Elizabeth suddenly stopped writing, her lips tugging into a small frown as she stared at the page. She had written and rewritten this paper so many times and it always came to the end that she couldn’t find the correct words. How was she supposed to end it? How was she supposed to wrap up something about demons?
The bell rang, giving out a shrill shriek that was quickly overpowered by the explosion of chatter and chairs scraping along the floor as they were pushed back. People moved into their clusters of friends, backpacks slung over their shoulders and excitement running through their voices as the week was drawing to an end. There was only one more day of prison before all the students would be free for the weekend; the sweet, relaxing weekend!
The blonde stayed in her seat, just staring at her paper while everyone else filed out of the room. Only when it was just her and her teacher left did she slowly stand and gather up her papers into one hand. Her bag felt like tons as she threw it over her shoulders, giving a yawn. She was just about to leave and head home when she paused and looked back over her shoulder.
“Hey, Mrs. Lewis?” she called, deciding to walk over to the desk. The teacher, a middle aged woman who was just starting to get to wrinkles around the corners of her eyes. The woman looked up, her kind chocolate eyes resting on the student and a smile spreading on her face.
“Elizabeth,” she greeted, resting her hands in her lap. “What can I do for you? How is your writing coming?”
“Good, I suppose . . . But I can’t seem to be able to figure out how to end this thing I’m writing.”
Mrs. Lewis nodded in understanding. “The beginning and ending are always the hardest in writing. My recommendation is to sleep on it. Or go for a walk. Try to find something to give you inspiration about whatever it is that you’re writing about today and figure out what would be best and satisfying for the reader to finish with in mind.”
The freshman nodded and thanked her teacher, leaving the room and heading out of the school. Most people were already gone although a few students still stayed after for extracurricular activities or other clubs. As she left the school property and began heading in the direction of her house, her mind wandered back to the writing that she had slipped into her backpack on the way out.
Perhaps I can end it with a small example? she wondered absently, focusing on the sidewalk as she walked, weaving in and out of groups of people. Or a quote from one of the philosophers? No, that’s used a lot. Maybe . . . maybe . . .
Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a strange shadow on the ground catching her eye. It was the usual flat rectangle of the building beside her but there was a curved shape on the top of the rectangle which she never saw on her walks home. Her head turned up, a hand cupped over her eyes to shield the sun and squinting, but they quickly widened when she caught sight of a person standing on the ledge of the roof. Without another thought passing her mind, she bolted into the building, rushing up the stairs of the few stories.
The student burst out onto the roof of the building, her legs still carrying a few yards until she managed to skid to a stop a few feet away from the ledge. The boy stood up on the slightly raised ledge, the front of his shoes hanging off on empty air and his heels still latched onto the concrete. His arms were outspread like a bird about to take flight and his loose jacket whipped around on his thin frame.
“H-Hey,” she said unsteadily, keeping her voice soft to not startle him. The boy’s body tensed and he looked over his shoulder, emerald green eyes like hers wide and frightened.
“G-Get away,” he hissed, voice quivering more than hers. “Get away or I’ll jump!”
“Please don’t!” Her voice cracked for a moment and she took a half step back to please him, arms raised to show that she mean no harm. “Why don’t you come down from there, huh?”
He shook his head and turned back around. “Just leave me alone.”
“I can’t now, not with you on the edge like that.”
The boy said nothing and shuffled a little closer.
“Wait, wait!” Her mind frantically searched for something to tell him to get him down but she couldn’t think of anything. Fear was suffocating her from the inside out as her mind was searching through any books or stories she’d read or shows she’d watching with things like this but everything was suddenly a blank in her mind. “Why—Why are you doing this?”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
His fingers curled together into fists. “Everything’s a wreck. Home, school, everything. Just leave me alone; everyone else does.”
“No, no I won’t.” Her mouth felt dry and she swallowed, trying to salivate; anything to get some moisture onto her cotton-like tongue. “What do you mean, wreck.”
“My grades have plummeted; everyone at school thinks I’m a freak because some bully started spreading rumors about me that I’m anorexic.” He gave a mocking laugh. “Whoever heard of an anorexic boy? Everyone always talks about girls who starve themselves or are puking in the bathroom, but never guys. I’d have a bigger chance if people accused me of being gay.” He shook his head, nails digging into his palms. “Now my parents are getting a divorce and won’t even speak to each other . . .”
Elizabeth licked her lips, slowly setting down her backpack. “It’s not your fault—”
“Like hell it is! That’s what people always say: it’s not your fault, this is for them, don’t blame yourself. Well it is, to me. I was the reason they got married in the first place. My dad got my mom pregnant and they got married because I was going to be born and she refused to raise me without a father. Now he’s deciding he’s had enough of this botched marriage and is getting out of it. So, yeah, it IS my fault.”
“But it’s not. This really is for them.”
“You don’t even know them! You don’t even know ME!”
“Then tell me. What’s your name?”
He hesitated, body swaying slightly on the ledge. Her eyes kept darting down to her feet and back up to the back of his head which had his black hair whipping around in the nippy air. Finally he murmured, “Brendon.”
“I’m Elizabeth. What school are you going to?”
“Me too.” She tried to give an encouraging smile through her anxiety although he wouldn’t see it. “Maybe we could hang out.”
There was another beat of silence, another hesitation, and another second with him challenging death. “No. NO, please, I just want to be left alone.”
“I’m not going to—”
“You can’t help me! So just go away!”
It was then her turn to clench her hands into fists. “I don’t care! I’m not leaving, okay? I want to help you . . . please let me. I know that it’s hard right now. Everyone goes through bad stuff. It’s just the timing that pushes us to stuff like this. But do you honestly think that everything will get better if you do this?”
“I don’t care about what happens if I’m gone.”
“You should. People at school will feel awful when they hear about you. They’ll blame themselves over this—”
“It’s their fault.”
“—and some of them will probably get depressed because they’ll think it was their fault. That they could’ve helped. That they could’ve done more. Your parents will still get divorced but they’ll be upset and hysterical and bitter toward one another because they’ll hate each other for what you did but they’ll hate themselves even more because they’ll think that if they had stayed together then everything would be just fine. Everyone who knows you will live in guilt over this.” She swallowed again. “Most of all I’ll blame yourself because I couldn’t help you right now.”
“You don’t even know me.”
“I want to.”
“NO you don’t. You’re only saying that because I’m standing here on this ledge.”
“Brendon. You seem like an awesome guy. I’ve never met you before and yet we go to the same school. I bet if we had a class together or if we just bumped into each other in the hallway then we could’ve become good friends, or good acquaintances at the very least, even without this exchange happening. Please. I want to get to know about you.”
His head lowered. “You’re sympathetic.”
“I am. That’s the kind of person I am. Please, Brendon, please.”
The boy stayed where he was for another minute before he finally stepped back and off the edge of the building. Immediately she pulled him in close for a hug, not caring if he would be uncomfortable by the contact or not. She let out a shaky breath, tears falling from her eyes out of the fear that had been hammering in her chest since she saw him on the roof.
When she finally pulled away she demanded for his phone and input her number. “Call me,” she told him, “if you need to talk about anything. I’ll answer at any time of the day, all right? And meet me tomorrow morning in the cafeteria by the back entrance.”
They left together and the freshman had insisted on walking him back to his home. They had been silent on the walk back. Elizabeth listened to the sounds of the city—the cars honking, pedestrians having loud conversations to each other, the occasional shouts as people tried to get the attentions of the taxis—and arrived at his house. She gave him an encouraging smile as he walked inside and relief surged through her when he returned the smile with a nod.
The walk back to her home was uneventful. She walked inside, locking the door behind her and drinking in the quiet relief of her empty home. Her mother was most likely still at work. Shifting the weight of her backpack to her other shoulder, the student hurried up into her room.
Elizabeth closed her door, for a moment leaning against it and sucking breath through her nose along with the familiar scent of her own bedroom. Her eyes scanned the walls, seeing all the things she loved. There was her history project that she was still working on for their Holocaust unit. She was almost done filling in the fake diary about the person she was researching. And there, hanging over her bed was the dream catcher that she had made in the fifth grade. Strings still stuck out awkwardly and the way she’d put it together made the net look like a pentagram which had gotten some laughs from the kids in her class. Then posted on her wall, hanging in a frame, was a drawing she’d made when she was six that her mother had been so proud of: a stick figure of the family with her, her mother, and her father. A small smile played on her face, drinking in everything familiar that drowned her in good memories.
“I’m not done yet,” she murmured as she walked to the desk and carefully pushed the diary away. She let her backpack slip from her shoulder and hitting the carpeted ground with a soft thud. Her bag was cluttered inside like every other high school student but she managed to find the papers she’d stuffed inside and set them on the desk. As she picked up her pencil, she found that the words could flow freely, something that would simply refuse to happen earlier that day.
‘We create our own demons. It’s a fact. We try to ignore them. We can’t. Instead, we let them out. Sometimes it can be as simple as an exhale of breath, other times it’s with a flurry of loud harsh words against someone that you could even consider a friend. But, sometimes the demons push us too far. Sometimes we don’t want to live in a place with our demons. We become desperate for any form of escape. Some even turn to standing on the edge, peering down at the ground below them.
‘That’s why we need to help each other. We need to be each other’s angels that scare away the demons and grant relief to others. We need to stop creating demons, either our own or others’. We need to take care of the demons inside of ourselves and become angels for others in the process.
‘We create our own demons. That doesn’t mean we let them beat us.’