I Choose to Remain

by Devynitye C.
Colorado, United States
genre: General

There are two sides to everyone. The inner and the outer, the dark and the light, call it what you will. Each individual human being has two pieces of their soul, fragmented and twisted into two different people altogether: one a bringer of light, and the other of destruction. These fragments, these shards of duality, will always manifest in one way or another. For some, it projects outwards, the people who do so condemned as two-faced. But for others, it pulls inwards on the individual: the two fragments fight and collide, bending and breaking and twisting until a little monster is born. The monster rests inside, tormenting the mind and lying in wait for unsuspecting prey on the outer limits of its fleshy cage. The monster can be skittish or fierce, unwilling or relentless, all dependent upon its host and their circumstances. 

For Elena, the monster was vicious. 

All her life, the monster was cultivated through neglect and blows from those she once thought family, all of it collecting to fuel the snakelike thing constricting the pure side of her soul. It lied in wait to lash out at whoever it could and, much to Elena’s dismay, all of her efforts in stopping it were futile. The only thing she could do was watch in anguish from the inside as she pushed everyone away on the outside. Even though the outer aggression reflected the inner turmoil— and it was rather clear what had made her this way— the real world doesn’t excuse trauma. To them, a monster is a monster.

One dreary day before the sun began to shine and the birds began to chirp, Elena stood before her calcium-caked mirror and contemplated abandoning her attempts at redemption. She had been trying so hard for so long, but all was in vain. The pain went unchecked and the monster remained. She peered into the reflection she didn’t recognize anymore, tilting her head to let the dim and flickering lights cast focus on her gaunt cheeks. She peered closer and closer, trying to find any inkling of the girl she used to be. But all she encountered was what she had become.

Deep, deep in her sunburnt amber irises descended a spiral, leading to the coil of a monster that had pounced on so many. She stared into it with a deadened, sorrowful gaze. It shifted, letting out a low hiss. Most of it was obscured by the dark of her pupils, shadows coating its scales in a smoky sheen. The light, vibrant tendrils of her iris could not reach this dark and foreboding place, could not save her from what was about to happen.

“Why?” Elena mumbled to it, wavering between hopelessness and a rare breed or broken rage. “Why?” 

The monster hissed louder, beginning to uncoil and unravel. Its scales gleamed a pale, ghostly ivory tipped with gold and green, tongue flicking in distaste. The creature’s eyes glared brilliant gold in the dark of Elena’s pupil, a strange reflection to be seen in the mirror. She stared at it, a morbid resignation continuously being replaced with anger and pain.

“Why do you do this to me?!” she wailed.

Her pupil shattered, shattered like the mirror before her malnourished form. The vicious snake leapt from the hole, squeezing itself through. Elena cried and thrashed, digging the heels of her palms into her face in an attempt to quell the pain and prevent the serpent from bursting forth. But it was no use, because once you release a pain like this, it rarely allows you to cram it back into its prison. 

“I am your Suffering!” the snake screeched, wrapping itself around Elena and constricting her. She struggled, but her whole body felt itself in a state of paralysis. All she could do was sob as the serpent continued to tug and pull, the shards of her eye slicing into her skin and reminding her of the memories ingrained into her brain so long ago. The serpent continues to cackle and shriek:

“I am your Suffering, your great and mighty Terror! The Legion is nothing to me. I am his true form, I am your great and terrible sword, I am your Pain, Heart and Soul, your Essence! You are me, I am you, we are one and the same!” And with a great, roaring hiss, the serpent let its scales dig into Elena’s arms, her chest, her knuckles. Icy pain swallowed her up. The memories, the embedded memories, they all displayed themselves before her. 

The blood. Gnawing hunger in a small child’s belly. Staring out at the stars, pretending they were campfires to keep her warm. The sting of bone against flesh, ripping skin and forming bruises. Wishing for it all to stop, wishing for someone to make the pain and hatred and prejudice disappear. Becoming the thing she despised in order to defend her own fortress. All the warm eyes turning cold towards her, the cold eyes becoming fearful. Her metamorphosis all laid out in a horrible blur of flashbacks.

“You are me, I am you, we are one and the same,” the serpent repeated. Elena felt the air being crushed from her chest. The memories continued to dance on the grimy bathroom floor in a never-ending display of torment. “You asked for this. You became this. Stop fighting me, dear. Stop fighting yourself. We are meant to be. I will never leave your side. I have wormed my way into your heart…”

The serpent continued its sinful lies, tongue flicking. Its scales dripped red now, scraping against Elena’s bones. She felt it returning, oh, that bitter resignation. Now she let it come. She chose this fste, there was no escaping it. She was the monster, the Devil, she—

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.

All the illusions melted away. There she knelt crumbled on the tile, blood slick against her knees. Her vision cleared, eyes as tender and real as any others, glassy with tears now. No signs of shattered pupils or ripped irises. The mirror was cracked, shards protruding from her knuckles where she had smashed and punched. The buzzing came from her phone, crawling across the floor in its vibration. Tati dared not look at the caller ID, squeezing her eyes shut tight. For a moment, the phone ceased. Then, it picked up once more. Reluctantly, Elena answered. 



Oh, a familiar voice. The tears returned anew.

“O-Oh, hi…”

“About last night… I-I know that—“

“Don’t. Don’t apologize.”


“No.” Elena sucked in a breath. “I… I haven’t been myself. There was nothing you could have done.” Pause. “The truth is—“

“I know.” They sat in silence for a long while, the sound of static echoing in the bathroom. 

“Do you want to go grab some coffee with me?”

Elena smiled, a broken and genuine smile.

“Coffee would be great. See you at nine?”


The static ceased, the call ended. Elena slowly but surely got to her feet, sucking in a breath and staring at the cracked mirror once more. She stared at the serpent, at the Depression, and made a choice.

She chose to stay.

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