A quarter of my mind: A Portrait of the Dark Side (V)

A Quarter of Mind: The Night Niko Turned (Part III)
Winifred hMensa

Previously on ‘A Portrait of the Dark Side’, Aba had survived days of torment from dark shadowy figures. On her way home from work one evening, she’d been ambushed by minions from the Dark Side and was hauled back to the village house she grew up in. There, she was thrown down the same well her mother had fallen in when she was only 6 years old.

She had survived the drop down the well only for a vortex to suck her in and pull her to the Dark Side – a dreary cave that contained captured souls chained under distress, depression and agony. After a while of being underground, Aba had broken free of her fetters and was about to make her way across a ravine to a mystical Mirror that held visions of a better life.

Planting one foot at the edge, I leapt into the air, sailing over the mist. As I vaulted across the void in what felt like slow motion, a hand erupted from underneath the haze and grazed the soles of my feet. It took nothing short of a miracle to escape it. Fear alone would have sunk me if I paid it any mind. Eventually, I landed with a crunch on the other side. Relief and joy washed over me.

The two guard beasts stomped their way toward me and set themselves as a barrier between me and the Mirror, beckoning me with their knotty humanoid fingers to fight them if I dared. Up close I could see their poorly formed structure: 8-foot tall with knees that angled backward like the hind of a horse, elbows that jutted out at the back, extra-large paunches that stored stolen dreams, all encrusted in a lumpy stone-like hide.

From their feet right up to their rock-shaped heads, thick twines wove around them like roots, holding their frame in place. Their chunky look took nothing away from their menacing features. Their faces and soulless black eyes conveyed terror and intimidation that pulled you in, draining every life form out of you. Intimidated but still hopeful, I fixed them with an intense gaze, defiance rising up where fear once lived. I had made it that far and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.

The one on my left took a step in my direction and swung its axe at me, missing me by a hair. I ducked just in time to avoid a collision with death. It was slower than expected. Its heavy build made it a little sluggish. The other, seeing me bent over, made a quick dash for the nape of my neck with its mace and managed to knock me over with the shaft. The force from the punch sent me rolling back to the very edge of the gorge. There was no time for pain. I shook it off and got back up on my feet before they got to me.

As they came at me, weapons mid-air waiting to swing down on me, I took advantage of their laboured movement (and my tiny body), bobbed and weaved through their arms, and spun around it to the other side. This left them at the very edge of the abyss, begging to be tipped over. Mustering every ounce of strength in my 6-year-old body, I shot towards them and heaved axe-wielding one over the edge, sending it down the ravine. The other stood and stared as its partner went down. Expecting no applause, I darted for the Mirror, turning back only once to see the other beast who was coming after me.

The light from the Mirror flooded my face with the warmth of a loving embrace when I got to it. An indescribable feeling of wholeness took over the void within. Awe-struck by its mystery and power, I took a moment to feel the surface with the tips of my fingers, running them in a swiping motion over it. It felt as though I’d finally found home. But the screen was fuzzy and indistinct this time. No images reflected on its surface and I had seconds before the other creature was upon me. Disappointed that I had come all that way for nothing, I started to despair. Just then, the screen cleared revealing a more colorful and vivid image of myself. Through the reflecting surface, a hand broke through, grabbed me by my shirt, and pulled me in.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I woke up the next morning to the ringing of my phone. It sounded very distant. Eyes still shut, I dipped my neck in the direction of the ring, rolled over to the edge of the bed, and felt around for it on the floor. The ring was so loud it hurt my ears. When I finally found it, it took a few seconds to pry my eyes open to see who was calling. It was the Lockmann! I looked at the time. 9:22 am! I dropped the phone and jumped out of bed. The sudden change of position made me woozy and I had to pause to steady myself. After my feet found the ground I started to make my way to the bathroom when I caught a reflection of myself in the mirror and did a double-take. I looked like I had been dragged through a ditch for days and it certainly felt like it. My clothes were damp, covered in sludge, and reeked of sewage, just like the vagrant at the bus stop the day before.

As I kept looking at myself in the mirror, the memories of my ordeal started to filter through my mind. Slowly as the memories returned, I unbuttoned my shirt, fiddling with each button until the very last one, which refused to open. Frustrated, I held the open ends of the shirt at the bottom and ripped it apart. When I pulled my hands out of the sleeves, the 5 marks I made on my forearm revealed themselves. I ran my finger over them, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and I mimicked another scratch next to the fifth mark. Six, I said under my breath. I am number 6. The reality of it hit me hard. So hard it weakened my knees and forced me back on my bed. The phone rang again, I didn’t bother with it. I got up and continued to undress.

Stripped down to my underwear, I left the clothes in a pile, walked to my window, and drew the curtains to let the sun in. It was out and unashamedly hot and I allowed its rays to rush over me. Charging up on its warmth, I turned back to look at myself in the mirror. Underneath the sludge on my face, a glow lingered. I picked up my skirt and wiped my face with the cleanest part I could find and took another look at myself. For a fraction of a second, I saw my image move independently of me. She gave me a smile that said, “You made it”. A smile settled on my face and straightened my crooked lips. I didn’t hold it back. It felt good to be alive. Good to be in the light.

I picked up my phone from under the pile of clothes and composed the shortest email I’d ever written.

Dear Sir,

I quit.


Frances Aba Menson

For the first time, I signed the email in my full name and read it out loud, repeating it to myself as though it was the very first time I was hearing it. By saying it out loud, I was giving myself permission to breathe and to live like I had the right, like everyone else, to be here on God’s blessed earth.

After a cold shower, I changed my sheets and climbed back into bed. I felt the reassuring calm that rest brings after a triumph, and I smiled to myself in the sheer bliss of it. Here I was, living. Bobo who had slipped under the sheets and joined me, snuggled up to me comfortingly.

The End.

Read the full story here: https://medium.com/@whmensa


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