Chapter 1: Monday
Head in my hands I tried to breathe. I didn’t want to do this. The ticking of the clock on the wall grew louder and louder in my ears. I bounced one knee and then the other. Every fibre in my being told me to go home.
I felt Jonah’s cold fingers resting on my shoulder as he leaned forward to whisper in my ear.
You should leave now. This won’t help anything. I gritted my teeth and buried my head further into my hands. I was done with listening to Jonah.
“William Owens?” finally, if they had taken any longer to call my name I might not have stayed. I stood up. My hair sticking to my forehead with sweat. Jonah followed me in to the office. Standing behind my chair, hands still on my shoulders.
I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, worrying that jeans and a hoodie was the wrong outfit choice. It was just a distraction. Something else to think about. I hate doctors. I’m uncertain on my opinion of therapists. I hate that this building smells like a hospital.
“Why don’t you tell me what’s been going on?” the lady across from me seems nice enough. I don’t know if I can do this. Jonah’s grip tightens on my shoulder. He doesn’t want me to talk.
I’ve already forgotten her name, so I try not to look at her as I fidget. I count the number of gray dots in the white flooring. I don’t know where to start.
“I…I have anxiety” I try to breathe because I don’t think I am. At least not very well. Jonah’s hands are sliding up my shoulders towards my throat. Squeezing the air out of my lungs.
The more you speak. The deeper the grave you are digging for yourself will get. Jonah taunts me and there is silence for a moment as I struggle to stay here and not run away.
I have something important to say, something I haven’t been able to say to anyone before, but the more I think about it. The harder speaking is becoming.
How do you know the building around you is stable? What about the floor beneath your feet?
Alright. Don’t grip the sides of the chair so tightly. What if the lady notices? Am I sweating? Oh no. Do I smell? Jonah laughs as I start to lose my cool.
“Are you alright?” her eyes are a kind blue-gray, I try to focus on them instead of the way my heart is racing.
This is hard for me, especially because Jonah won’t shut up. I think he likes watching me get myself all wound up.
Inside me it’s like I’m lost in a forest. I can almost see the dark and foreboding trees in my mind. Towering over me. Where did the sun go?
I’m caught in amongst all the trees. It’s dark. I can’t move and I can’t see and I can’t breathe. Radiating through it all is Jonah’s laughter. A deep chuckling that echoes through my mind and makes me grind my teeth.
I have to get out of the forest. I can’t die in here.
You will never be free.
Jonah is always right.
I leave the appointment early. I can’t do it. I reschedule for later in the week, but Jonah and I both know it won’t make a difference.
The appointment is now on Friday. If the apprehension doesn’t kill me before then.
Jonah is not happy with me. I don’t know why.
A few days is nothing compared with the years we have spent together.
I don’t even remember when Jonah first joined me. It was so long ago.
I was never a brave child, but I’m sure my parents and I had no idea how bad it would get.
I barely even leave the house anymore.
Jonah makes me aware of all the things that might happen to the house when I’m not there.
Worse is all the things that might happen to me if I leave. Jonah is so incredibly creative.
Death. Disease. Fire and unfortunate accidents.
I can see all of those events when I stand on my front door step. All playing at once in my head. Jonah’s laughter is the soundtrack to all of it.
I always liked my black hair to be long until Jonah showed me all the ways it could set on fire or get stuck inside of objects that would lead to my death.
People always ask me what it’s like, what Jonah looks like. Why I have Jonah. I can never answer these questions. I don’t even know myself. I only know his name and what it feels like when he’s with me.
Still, as I slowly chew some cereal in the kitchen, safe and sound at home. I know we can’t live like this forever. Even if that’s what Jonah wants.