“Everyone knows that Father Time is undefeated.” Shawn Warstein’s voice is hoarse, as he sits at the foot of his bed. A single lamp behind him covers his face in shadow. His head down. Each breath is slow and steady. Fiddling with something inside his hands.
“There is no such thing as winning when he’s breathing down your neck.” A quick swipe at the left side of his neck. Then he quickly tilts it, as if an electrical charge coursed through his body.
“His icy breath, sending chills down your spine. That is until you realize that it was never Father Time. It was always a construct of your own being. It was for all intents and purposes, your own shadow.”
“It’s the eyes that you gaze upon in the mirror at night, in an empty bathroom and no lights to show you what truly lies beneath the mask. It’s those two orbs that you can see so very clearly.”
“Peering.” Shawn slowly lifts his head.
“Judging.” Then tilts it to the right.
“Salivating.” And wipes his bottom lip with the back of his left hand.
“Just waiting for you to make one tiny, minuscule mistake. That’s when they take grasp of your being. Your entire mind becomes entangled with mischievous thoughts. Self harm seems like a good thing and not a cry for help that it really is. Your once strong mind becomes shattered under the pressure bestowed upon your feet.”
“You have to live to thrive, but you have to thrive to live. You can’t do that while you’re out chasing imaginary dragons. In vain hopes to actually catch one and ride it again.” Still with something between his hands Shawn clasps his hands together in a praying fashion and looks up towards the ceiling.
“Or so that’s what your brain tells you. The first one is always free and it’s always the best. You chase that feeling of euphoria coursing its way through your body. You stand on the top of a mountain and scream to the world.” He spreads his arms out wide.
“I’m King Kong!”
“You bang your chest for the world to see and hear you.” Shawn does as he said and bangs his chest. Each hit sounded more hollow than the previous. On the last hit he falls backwards onto the bed.
“You slowly fall backwards into the snow. Your eyes open but the outside is getting darker by the second. Your breath is harder and harder to catch. The muscles in your arms and legs no longer function and twitch uncontrollably. A white foam dribbles out the corner of your mouth and down your chin.” Shawn’s head tilts to the left and closes his eyes. He slowly sits back up.
“You were never on the top of that mountain. No. Instead you were wallowing in a cesspool of your own doing. Damp clothes scattered about. Vomit staining the floor amongst all the chaos that you surrounded yourself with.” A deep breath.
“It was all a figment of your own imagination. The people that were out to get you? Only concerned friends who were worried. The voices speaking to you at night? It was just your subconscious brain attempting to right itself.” Shawn jabs his finger into his temple with enough force to bend his finger the wrong way.
“But did you listen?” He slowly shakes his head.
“Did you take the time to dive deep within yourself and pull yourself up? Or were you callous and ignorant? Shame really, so much drive just driven away. The sounds of bliss were what you were chasing.”
“You could’ve given it to yourself. All you had to do was listen.” Shawn hangs his head once again, and begins playing with whatever is in his hands.
“Eventually you would’ve succumbed to your own demons, but no, you’re a fighter. You opened your eyes. You lived once more.”
“You struggle with these demons daily. You fight more now than you ever have. Yet sometimes the mask slips, and people see you for what you really are.”
“Even with people around, you never feel like you truly fit in. Just another speck of algae floating in the endless ocean. Hoping and praying for something, or someone, to latch on to for salvation.” Shawn slowly lifts his head. His gaze is blank and his eyes seem lifeless.
“You found your salvation in death.”
Shawn releases his grasp on what is in his hand. A rosary falls, hanging onto his index finger. As it sways Shawn clears his throat.
“I could be deader than Aaron Carter is. Our paths were eerily similar in many fashions. I think that maybe if certain things broke differently, one flap of a butterfly’s wing.”
“It could’ve been me.”
“It should’ve been me.”
“But it wasn’t me.”
Shawn drops the rosary to the ground and begins to toss a small black pebble in his palm. For the first time he finally cracks a small smile.
“I never needed salvation.”
“All I needed, all we ever have needed, is a purpose.”
“I found mine. Have you?”
Shawn tosses the pebble in the air and snatches it quickly from the air. He stands up from the bed and walks out of the room. As he opens the door the room is flooded with a white light.