It was late July when it began setting in. It crept into my soul like a spider and as time passed, created a web full of doubt and anxiety. Every shadow, every sound scared me. My own home didn't feel like home anymore. No-one believed me when I told them I'm not myself anymore. There's something inside that keeps eating away my memories, my thoughts. I keep forgetting where I am or what I was doing. I no longer recognized myself in the mirror. How my hair lost its redness, how my eyes had gotten dark. My cheeks sunk in. But no-one listened.
"Stephanie, it's all part of the healing process." My therapists voice brought me back into reality. I blinked, trying to remember how I got here or what I've told her.
"It's different. I feel like... I feel like I'm being replaced inside out. I need help." I pleaded, but the therapist just gave a reassuring smile.
"Dealing with your son's death, I am sure, is unimaginably hard, but change is good. There's no need to keep holding onto your past self. It's good that you're trying to move on, no matter how unnatural it feels."
"No, you're not getting it. I didn't believe him either. What got to him is now getting to me." I stood up and picked up my purse, rummaging through it in search of my wallet. As I opened it my son's picture graced the front. His baby blue eyes and gold locks and that innocent smile... Quickly plucking out a few hundreds I threw them onto my therapists table. "I will die the same way he did. I only have a few minutes a day when..."
Blackness. A hazy feeling engulfed me. For a while I was floating, weightless. My surroundings moving in unnatural speed until bile began rising in my throat. A sickness. I mustn't forget. It took my son away.
"I'm sorry how I acted last time," I heard my own voice. Except, it wasn't. It was more high-pitched. More cheerful. "I was stressed out. I'm feeling a lot better now, I've thought a lot about what you said, about how change can be good."
"It's been a long time since I've seen you," the therapist noted, putting her glasses away and crossing her legs. "What changed in that time?"
"H-how long?" I managed to mumble out. A few minutes, I reminded myself. I can fight it.
She looked at the calendar.
"Three weeks now. I even thought you left me for good, with your dramatic walk away. So," she smiled. "What changed?"
"I've found a new goal in life." I heard myself say once more. I felt anger rise up in me. To think this fake had any right to pretend to be me after it took him away! "And I've decided that my experience won't turn me away from having more children. It was a tough period, for both of us. I can only hope that in the future I'll be able to handle it better."
"Is there anything you regret about that day?"
"Yes!" I shouted, feeling victorious. But such action only startled the therapist further. Regaining some composure, I straightened myself. "I regret that I didn't notice the symptoms earlier. I could've changed the outcome."
"You should know that this feeling of guilt you're holding onto is not fair to yourself. I'm sure he didn't wish to burden you further."
Darkness once more. My ears felt as if stuffed with cotton and eyes glued shut. But I need to fight it. I must.
I found myself looking at old newspaper clippings. It was about my son's tragic incident. His suicide. But that's only the creature's disguise. It's how it spreads and thrives.
"Are you feeling okay?" A muffled voice reached me, my head suddenly filled with lead.
It was my therapist's worried face, her hand holding mine.
"You're awfully pale this time. You didn't have to come if you were sick."
"I had to. Too many things are eating me up inside. You're the only one I can speak to." These words left my lips. It decided to play a joke on me. But I knew where it was going, what it was going to say. And it scared me. My thought process...felt full of holes. Fragmented. My mind empty. I was back under the haze, back floating, but the creature let me listen in.
"I did it. My son, I... I killed him."
The therapist quickly grabbed a tissue.
"As I've mentioned before, it's not fair to hold yourself accountable for something you could have never foreseen. Please, Stephanie, dry your tears."
"No, no... I told him to write that note. I pushed him out of the window. It wasn't suicide, I just didn't know what to do anymore after the rent came in. He was too expensive to keep..."
Her eyes kept widening out of fear, her hands quickly retracted from my body.
"You've been so kind, but... my host has been getting too weak. I simply can't feed my children."
"Stephanie, what are you talking about?" Her voice trembled. RUN, I screamed inside my body, my prison cell, but nothing came through. I could only keep listening.
And I did.
Through all the screams.