Without Darkness

If there is no light, no shadow can be cast. If there is no darkness, light could not illuminate. One cannot be without the other. They were not meant to be without the other.

As a child, most people are afraid of the dark. So was I. It was different for me though. I realised that the worst kind of darkness didn't come from outside, but from within myself. That terrified me. I was afraid that my darkness would drown all my light, because I seemed so much darker than other people. My skin, even though it was pale, and reflected sunlight like other children, did not seem to glow with the innocence of children. It was common knowledge that children always look happy, and make people happy, and are naïve which makes them adorable and makes adults think they themselves are a little more kind for having come into contact with one.

Whenever I spoke to my mother, her smile seemed much more forced. She didn't lavish attention on me like other mothers, and spent as little time with me as she could. I remember one day, when she left the room, I could hear her saying, 'what a dark child. She never smiles.'

I didn't. I didn't even try, after I heard that. I was a dark child, and therefore, I wasn't really a child at all. I became a bit hollow, a bit plain, and everyone would comment on it, and say things like, 'how creepy, I can't look at her for long', 'it's those eyes of her's, I feel like I'm being attacked when she looks at me', and then things like, 'she's such a kind girl, but I can't handle her. She'll grow up nasty, I'm sure, wicked.' It hurt because I tried hard. One day, I forced myself to smile at my father, and he jumped, and scolded me saying, "It isn't nice to scare people like that. Don't do it."

So I didn't. Until I was six, and I thought, 'why should I have to suffer like this? I am a good person. I have light in me. I want to be only light. I don't want to feel bad things.' So I wouldn't. I cast my darkness into a deep pit, and sealed it away, where it couldn't ever be touched. When I stood in sunlight, my shadow did not follow at my heels. I stood entirely alone, my shadow hidden far in my mind.

No one can live as I do. No one can live always, a selfless, eternally kind being. In taking from me what made me a human, I killed myself. No more was I a living being - I was just a shell.

And no one knew the difference.

No one could tell that I wasn't human. No one was aware that when they spoke to me, they spoke to a corpse. It wasn't really possible to shove a person's bad things away, because problems aren't solved that way; that's what we all think, so that's how it is. But I did it. It was possible, because I had done it. But there's a reason we don't do that. It's not a good thing to do. Without darkness, how can there be light? Shadows occur because of light, and likewise, if there isn't any darkness, what can light illuminate?

I was only six. I didn't know that. I wouldn't have changed it if I did, because from then on, people would say to me, 'my, what a sweet girl you are', 'how good of you to say that', and 'what a bright girl, she'll have many friends'. And I did. I was happy. Of course I was happy - sadness was a dark feeling. I didn't feel that anymore. I didn't feel things like fear, pain, loneliness, sadness, anger, inferiority. I only fely joy, kindness, obedience, boldness, warmth. There was nothing dark in me anymore. I was always smiling, and no one was afraid of me.

Except that person. I was abnormal, wrong, flawless. That person said 'your flawlessness is your only flaw'. That made no sense to me, 18 year old me. That person also said, 'someone else will find that too, soon'. I left that person with a 'have a nice day madam, thankyou for your advice', but I was surprised to find that when I left that person's home, I hadn't meant it. I had lied. I never lied about such things. I had, when speaking to that person been bitter, and wished that person to have a simply awful day.

I was getting weaker. I had to fix that. I couldn't allow darkness in again. No, I had darkness in me already, but it was locked away, hidden and buried, never to resurface. I couldn't let darkness out. I ran away, faster than I had run in a long time, and I panicked a little. Panic wasn't something I felt anymore, so I panicked more, and I realised with a shock that the more I panicked, the darker I got, so I stopped, breathed deeply, and was calm.

And when I opened my eyes, cat eyes blinked back at me. On the other side of the street, a black cat sat, a black cat with green eyes. As such a bright person, I didn't fear the cat, the cat was just a cat. But as I gave it my customary 'animal's are sweet' smile, it seemed to smile back. I frowned, confused, and crossed the street. It didn't flee, but sat patiently until I reached it, and knelt beside it. The cat was a stray, for it had no collar. "Hello," I greeted.

It meowed. I smiled faintly, it was as if it had replied. "Are you talkative?" I asked it, feeling a little silly, and yet the cat began to meow more frequently, and I stared at it in surprise. Was it a coincidence that the cat was doing this? I pushed it aside, and stood and walked home. That person was just on my mind, that was all. But the cat followed me, and I let it, and when we got to my home, I brought it inside with me and I fed it. 'Someone else will find that too, soon,' said that person. She couldn't have meant this cat, that was ridiculous.

And the weeks passed on, and the cat lived with me, and I gave it a name. It was peaceful, and I liked his (for it was a he) company. It would have been nice if it stayed that way. Nearly a month on from meeting that cat, I stepped out into the morning, and found that it was raining. The fresh smell pleased me (it could not displease me) and I picked up a bright yellow umbrella, and stepped out to go to the shops. But at that moment, the cat followed me. It crossed the street, and in the blink of an eye, it was gone. Surprised, I went the way it had gone, and there stood a man perhaps two or three years older than I, and he was cradling the cat in his arms, getting soaked for he had no umbrella. I had thought the cat was a stray, but perhaps I was wrong. "Sir," I said, "is that your cat? If so, I'm glad you found him."

The man glared at me. "I hate you," he said quite bluntly, and he walked away. I was annoyed; that was a dark feeling again, and I smushed it till it was quiet. But even so, I thought, 'how rude. I'm perfect, I possess not one bad trait! Yet he dares claim he hates me? He shall know better. I shall show him that I am light, and I am good, and I am selfless.' So I raced after him, and grew wet in the rain, and I caught up to him and told him just that. "Sir," I said, "How can you say that you hae me?" I said, "I have done you no harm, nor wished you ill, and yet you say such a thing?"

"You're not right," he told me, "People are supposed to be imperfect. It's wrong to be the way you are." I looked at him, and I saw that he was like all the others; he was dark and light, but when I studied him, my darkness, quiet for so long, murmured to me that he was as I had been, more dark than light, but not so bad. A good person.

But I told darkness to be still. Even if I was lonely (a dark feeling I had never removed) I wanted the life without darkness I had lived. No one disliked me, all people thought me good, and no one ever doubted me. I could hear darkness saying that it was lonely too, and longed to see sunlight. I told her to shush. So she did. I stroked the man's cat, and I peered into his eyes, and I said, "Watch me sir, and you shall see that I am good. You shall come to like me, as all have liked me. You shall see." He didn't believe me, but saw the challenge in my gaze, and he agreed.

We became acquaintances, but never friends. He partook in my life, because he said he had nothing else he would rather do, and I partook in his. People thought us good friends, but we weren't, because he still loathed me, and told me every day, "I hate you."

Two years passed, and I grew numb to his catchphrase. Still, I strove to make him like me. I was always good to him, and kind, never argued. But he always said "I hate you". Over those two years, I met his friends. I fell in love with one, and I almost thought he returned my feelings. We were very close. He was very kind. Even my darkness assured me he was almost all light.

But not unnaturally so.

I cried. How can I feel sorrow? But when the man I had fallen in love with, when he took that person instead of me, I felt excruciating pain - she is so dark! She is dark as a moonless night! How could he choose her? And now the man who calls me flawed, he sits at my side and... he smiles? Does he delight then, in my sorrow? - but no, there is no malice, no darkness behind the expression. "Finally," he says, "You are human after all."

Of course - what else could I be?

And the seal broke. I was whole again.

It has been a week since then. I live in a bright place, with the cat and the man, just for now, because when the seal broke, I grew sick, and the doctors tried to help. But I didn't need it in the end. People have noticed the change in me already, and compliment me all the more for it. "You seem to be alive," they tell me. It's the best thing I've ever heard.

Apart from "I love you." The day the seal broke, he changed from "I hate you" to that, and he has said it daily. Sometimes more than once. I don't remember replying in kind, but he says I did, so I believe him. These days I am not the dark child I was, nor the bright corpse. I was more light than dark, as he was more dark than light, and it was a harmonious balance. I was human, he was human. His light was only ever shown to me. As I watched the rain falling outside the window, and heard the thunder, and saw the lightening, I also heard him come inside.

"Feeling well, Cary?" he asked.

"Recovery will take time, as the doctors said Theo," I informed him. But I was human. Imperfect. Flawed. But equally kind, and considerate of others. As a child, I had not realised it but... Theo sat beside me, and wrapped his arms around me in a warm embrace. I changed her mind, from then. Theo was dark. But he was balanced with just as much light - a light he had chosen to show to me alone. I am priveleged, I know, as I kiss his cheek softly. My pain for his friend, my first love, was still there, just beneath the surface. But with Theo, it would slowly fade.

I am Cary, and I am good, and I am selfish. I will keep Theo's light all to myself.