I don’t really see their faces or bodies-I call them Shadow Hands because that’s what I see of them. They pull on my skin, jam their fingers in my ears and nose and mouth, yank my hair to whisper in my ear.
You are useless. Worn out. Not worth wasting a bullet on. Lie here until you die.
A lot of the time they’re quiet, like they’ve gone to sleep, and it’s then I see my true self-vibrant, capable of being rapture in the sunlight on green lives or in the cold winter air that dries my skin and brightens the world.
But I am never truly without them, my Shadow Hands. At night they pin me to my bed, invisible but unbreakable until the night is over-and the bonds snap, sending me into shakes, banging my arms against my wall to counteract the shooting phantom pain in my limbs.
Sometimes I can stave them off with ibuprofen, with my pills, with scented candles and chocolates.
Sometimes I take a drink. Or two. I pet my dog.
Other times I run, or try, the Shadow Hands pulling on my ankles telling me that I am slow and fat and should crawl under my blankets and never emerge again, to let them hold me.
I know that they are not real, not in the way that the sunlight and my dog and the people around me are real. That they do not speak truth.
But they are insidious, and many, and I am never free from them.
So I listen. I listen.
And I believe them until I can summon enough energy to dispel them for the time being.