Flash Fiction: Demon Inside

It grips me in a chokehold, the breath hanging suspended in my throat.

I let the tears fall like a downpour. It’s a wasted effort to hold them backit takes so much of me to focus on breathing. The rhythm of in and out is stuttered by hiccuped sobs.

I’m in this same room, the same bed. The same feeling, like a flash flood.

Distant memories hold themselves up like strips of film in the light. My eyes track the memories at the same time my body understands that the world is not so filled with beauty anymore. Not so filled with that person in my memories, but rather there’s a demon-shaped hole where they should be.

The following day, I go to the craft store with a singular purpose. I find the woodworking aisle, filled with unpainted slabs of wood in different shapes; hearts, circles, frames. There’s a box about six inches square, with a small metal latch.

I debate if I should paint it, but decide that would be a deed for another day. For now, my only worry is getting it out of me.

The next time I feel a fit coming on, I rush to my room where it is perched on my dresser. I grab it in cupped hands, sit cross-legged on the bed. I unlatch it, baring the raw wood inside.

I let the demon out.

It pours out of me in tears, choking sobs, hands clenched tight. I focus everything into putting the demon inside that perfect little box.

When I’m done, chest heaving with no sobs left to give, I shut it. Close the latch. Place it back on my dresser.

I do this for days. Weeks. Months. I do this for a year before one day, I see the box and know that it is time to paint it.

I scrounge up every penny I can because I need to do this right. I paint it glossy black. When that is dry, I take a brush with delicate gold leaf paint and create sprawling vines from the latch that crawl over the edges.

At the very top, I paint in scrawling letters: Memorandum Est.

The box sits on my dresser for a week before I feel the need to exorcise the demon again. The process of bringing it out takes more effort as the months go by, but leaves me shuddering to my bones every time.

Until one day, I look up at the dresser and don’t feel the need to exorcise it at all. Instead, there is something else I know I must do.

I take the box and sit on the bed, my back along the headboard. I stare at the box in my hand, tracing the letters with my fingers, the vines with my eyes. I unlatch the brass, pulling the lid of the box back.

It’s time to heal.

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