Everyone says monsters aren’t real. I say that’s a load of bullshit. I’ve known from a young age that monsters are real. Sure, they don’t have fangs, horns, or a tail like all the stories lead you to believe. They aren’t eight feet tall, towering, hideous beasts. They look just as normal as you and me. But they aren’t human, not really. They abuse children, kill innocent people, destroy our world. They prey off of fear. Those are some of the monsters of our world. Everyone turns a blind eye until they’re the ones victimized.
There’s another, lesser known monster. Fear. Everyone fears something, it’s in our nature. Our fears are our own personal monsters that we must face eventually. Some are easy to overcome. Others never go away. They’re the ones who choose to loom over you, day by day. Reminding you they’re always there. Always watching. Always waiting. They strike at the worst of times.
People deal with their personal monsters differently. Some face their monsters head on; others choose not to let them take over. Some hide behind a mask, pretending there are no monsters to worry about. Others hurt themselves, trying to hurt the monsters lurking inside. There’s those who become monsters, to hide their own. No matter what the outcome may be, there’s always monsters.
The monsters in stories are always ugly and repulsive, a way to separate them from everyone else. My mom was the prettiest woman to ever walk the streets. She turned out to be an alcoholic, killing herself in a car crash. In stories, the monsters have the worst personalities. My father was able to make anyone laugh with his cringe-worthy jokes. He abandoned his kids to cope with his wife’s death, becoming the person he hated most. All the monsters are stupid, revealing their plans to the protagonists. Logan had a 4.0 all throughout high school. He left my brother and I for the hot chicks in college. Monsters in the stories always have a bad upbringing. My bullies have the perfect life. Yet every chance they get, they shove me against the wall, reminding me I’m nothing. And as they do so, countless people walk by, not even batting an eye. Those are the worst monsters of all-the ones who choose to do nothing.
“Long time, no see, Michaels.” I looked up into the icy blue eyes of Vasily Yuki. “How’s my little attention seeker been?” Vasily and I used to be friends. We were next door neighbors, talking to each other from our bedroom windows. We would do everything together. Our favorite place to play was the park across the street. We made ourselves a little fort. We would pretend it was our princess castle. It was us against the world. Vasily and I used to be best friends.
Key words: used to.
After third grade, I moved to a different state. It was right after my mom died; my dad couldn’t stay where she’d gone. We moved back when I was in eighth grade, and when I came back, things were different. She had new friends, a new personality, a whole new lifestyle. She became everything I hated in a person. And when I came back, it seemed like the feeling was mutual. My very existence seemed to bother her. I always assumed it was because she had a boyfriend when I came back; I was a female, a love rival. Not that I would ever want her boyfriend. Not only was he the most popular boy in school-way out of my league-I was positive he was going to grow up to be a creepy pedophile.
Michaels is my last name, the only thing Vasily has called me since I moved back. Apparently, I’m not good enough for my birth name anymore. Violet Ann Michaels.
If I’m being honest, it was Vasily’s behavior towards me that made me start. Start what? Hurting myself. When I came back, she was a terror, plaguing my nightmares. I’ve grown used to it, but when she first started chucking insults my way, it destroyed me. Maybe I had hoped for things to go back to the way they were before I left. A foolish wish, it seems. Nonetheless, I started, and haven’t stopped.
I cut myself because it’s a distraction. For a brief, fleeting moment, I don’t feel the hurt, the pain, the loss. All I can feel is the razor slicing into my skin. All I feel is the blood-hot and sticky-dripping down my arms, hands, stomach, legs, feet. I don’t think about how alone I am. I don’t think about how everyone hates me. I don’t think about all the abuse and neglect I have to endure. All I think about is the blood as it trickles down my skin, a steady stream. And when the hurt, the pain, and the loss comes back? When the cut isn’t fresh, faded into a distant memory? I do it again, just a little bit deeper, so the numbness lasts longer. Again and again, keeping the pain inside at bay. Making sure the monsters stay away.
“You graced me with your presence just this morning. If I have to see you anymore, my eyes are going to burn.” I watched as Vasily’s eyes narrowed. I was only making this worse for myself, but after a while, it’s instinct. You don’t care about the consequences. You always have a smart remark ready. You get revenge in small doses. Show them you aren’t as easy to tame as they thought.
“No need to be snippy. I was just inviting you to my party tonight. The whole school’s going to be there.” With that, Vasily sashayed away. I made a mental note to stay far away from her side of town while I was walking home. Parties meant socializing. Socializing meant my anxiety was going to flare up. There was a reason I was in a one-on-one class instead of in a classroom.
My anxiety was another monster I had. Growing up the way I was-it would’ve been a miracle if I didn’t have heightened anxiety. Logan and Rebel also had heightened anxiety, though not as much as I did. Logan was slowly becoming better, away from home. He worked with a therapist at his college. Rebel worked with his school counselor. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to my counselor. Talking to anyone wasn’t comfortable for me, mainly because everyone likes to talk about feelings. I preferred bottling mine up. I didn’t want to burden anyone with my stupid problems. It’s not like anyone cared enough to listen to my problems.
If anyone asked, I did have a therapist. Music. If I didn’t have music, I don’t know where I’d be. Probably dead as a doornail. My private teacher always let me listen to music while I worked, understanding my anxiety issues. Drowning out the world, listening to other people singing about their problems, knowing I wasn’t alone . . . it helped. More than anyone could ever know.
The best thing about music-it wasn’t a person. People are judgemental. Music can’t judge you. People leave, are always leaving. Music’s always there. People lie. Music can only tell the truth. People change. Music is constant. Unchanging. Forever the same. Music has all the exceptional qualities people lack. Music takes your mind off your problems. Takes you into another world. A better world. Our hearts have beats because music is life.
As I started my French class, I let my music drown out everything.