This Exists

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The following story is scary. Not for a grotesque monster, but for its terrifying universal truth. This is a seemingly simple tale, but it will surely shake you to your core. Tread lightly, and happy Halloween.

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I spookily wipe my brow as a scary bead of sweat rolls down my face. I take a deep breath. My heartbeat is pounding in my ears, making it more and more difficult to concentrate on my task. The sudden, violent gushing of water brings me to my senses as I twist the knob.

Too high, I think, twisting back a little. I douse the bristles, as the ritual goes. I take the tube and squeeze it with reckless abandon. I will pay for this action in the future, when I want more of its contents, but for now a bountiful supply of its goo shoots out onto the brush. I douse it once more, careful to simply wet the goo and not push it off into the drain. I falter.

Should everything be lost to time? Shall the past remain as nothing but a memory while we scrub away all of its residue? Is this what justice is: the constant correction and godlike control of all that influences us? Or is our hubris overshadowing our judgement, leaving us frenzied and desperate for routine and unchecked power?

My heartbeat is still pounding as I make eye contact with my reflection in the mirror. My gaze hardens, and I know what I must do. My arm slowly rises, bringing the brush to my mouth. I have the momentum now and I begin to scrub. I do my job thoroughly and without remorse. I am a man at war, and those unfortunate enough to be in my wake are cleansed of this realm. All my anger pools in this moment, and every struggle I’ve faced comes down to this. My hand begins to cramp, but I do not slow down. You could sooner divert a river from its course than deny me my nature. I brush, I rinse, and, by God, I spit. 

And then, as quickly as my anger flooded within me, it dissipates. I stare into the mirror, remnants of the carnage still strewn across my face. I reach for a tissue, preparing to wipe my mouth so that no proof of my wrath endures. And yet, my anger is gone. I know I have to finish the job, but the strength eludes me.

These flecks of paste are nothing but a bitter reminder of the pain that led me to this moment, so why can’t I eliminate them? I wonder. Is it some testament to the cruel face of man? Can the pain shape us, the carnage make up who we are at heart, the war symbolize our deepest and darkest traits? No matter how hard we fight, no matter how far we run, can we never truly escape these savage bonds? 

I reach once more for a tissue, but a dark truth strikes me. Violence for violence is the rule of the beasts, is it not? I muse. Yet it still does not sit right. Should I not proudly bear these battle scars? If the pain is what shapes me and makes me strong, then why am I taught to hide it, to ruthlessly wipe it away?

I look at my face in the mirror. There is sadness looming in my eyes, and yet, there’s strength too. I came here for a reason. A spoopy reason. I finally grab a tissue and all signs of my struggle are wiped away.

A story lost to time. However, I manage a smile. Only now I realize that I am strong, not because of my pain, but in spite of it.