And I am always with you.
I was there from the time you were born. I stood in the delivery room, staring down at you before you could even open your eyes to see me. Your parents, relatives and doctors couldn’t see me there, in the corner, watching you with cloudy eyes, but I was there from the time you were born.
And I followed you home.
I was with you always, your constant companion. You played with your toys alone while I stared from all angles in nearby mirrors; my matted, clotted hair with oily sweat that hung off my dented forehead like glue. I was always your constant companion, drifting behind your mother’s car on your ride to preschool. You alone in the bathroom, but I was on the other side of the door, wind whistling through the bruised hole in my throat. My arms twisted and hanging in their sockets as I stood hunched on the other side of the shower curtain. I wait and follow you. I follow and drift behind you.
I’m not seen. I’m almost not-there in light. You never saw me that morning as I sat across from you at the breakfast table, a shiny red clot hanging from an empty tooth socket as I gaped grotesquely at you. I wonder sometimes if you know I’m there. I think you are aware, but you’ll never understand just how close I am.
I spend hours of your day doing nothing more than breathing in your ear.
Breathing – gagging, really.
I crave to be close to you, to always wrap my crippled arms around your neck. I lie near you ever single night, cloudy eyes staring at your ceiling, underneath your bed, at your sleeping face in the dark.
Yes. You caught me staring occasionally. Your parents came running down to your room one night when you screamed. You were just beginning to talk, so you were only able to cry out “Man! Man in my room!” You thought you’d never forget the sight of me, with my collapsed jaw hanging to my chest, swinging back and forth. I sank back into your closet and your mother was unable to see me though you pointed and pointed and pointed. You thought you’d never forget when they left that same night. You saw the closet door crack so softly and me crawling across the floor to your bed on all fours, shambling in jerking movements as I pushed myself under your bed on disjointed limbs.
You learned a new word for me: boogeyman. Not quite the monster you thought I was. I’m just waiting and following you always, touching your face with my knotted fingers as you sleep.
You’ll see me again soon. Any day now, I’m coming, blunt and brutal. One day you’ll walk across the road and – I believe I’ll plow into you with loud roar and a screech.
You rolling on the pavement, rolling under wheels, bluntforce metal fenders and my fingers touching your face again and again.
As you stare up from the cold pavement with cloudy eyes; your matted, clotted hair hanging in your face and your jaw unhinged and swinging to your chest.
You’ll see me approaching.
No one else will see me. You will stare past them into my eyes and I’ll leer down at you. For the first time in our life, something like a smile will come over my face. You’ll swear you’re looking into a mirror as clotted red bubbles from our mouths.
I’ll lean down, past the doctors and the oogling people and pick you up in my crooked arms.
Our faces will touch. My wings will unfurl. And then you’ll have to follow me.
And I am always with you.
I am your guardian angel.
This was credited to “William Rodgers” when it was submitted.