Here’s a story I wrote a while back. I think it is an uncomfortable tale but I hope it works. Comments welcome.
I am the rustle in the branches behind you on a calm day. I am the creaking of a floorboard in an empty room. I am the mysterious shapes at the bedroom window. I am the monster lurking in the wardrobe. I am in your mind but not of it. I am nothing but I exist. I am a spirit, a wraith, a ghost. Who or what I was, I have no recollection. It is your thoughts and memories and emotions that give me succour. I see you as you see yourself but also as others may perceive you. I am your fears, your insecurities, your doubts.
She is a young girl, not even a teenager, when I enter her mind. Carefree, happy, gregarious, she gives love easily and wants to be loved. She is growing quickly, developing. Standing in front of the mirror she begins to see changes in herself, the appearance of curves where previously there were none. Boys start to approach her and not just to invite her to join a game of football.
It is easy to get into her thoughts. I suggest that she is getting plump, that no-one likes a fat girl, that she could be attractive like the models in the magazines. She becomes disgusted by her reflection. I suggest that food is making her fat so she creates subterfuges to avoid eating. I wallow in the turmoil that rages through her, her uncertainty. I encourage her with images of her as a slim beauty and she rewards me with the agony of her hunger, her disgust of herself, her distrust of her family and friends.
She becomes listless and hides from those she used to seek out. She dwells on her hate and I grow ever stronger. As her muscles waste and bones protrude so my influence grows. I control her desires and feed on her responses. They try to make her eat, to deny me my pleasures, but I am strong and she refuses to acknowledge their worries. But I know a time is approaching when I will have to leave her. Her body is but a husk of what it once was and her will is sapping. At last, when her body becomes too weak, I leave.
The woman has recently been widowed. She is ageing, but still active in clubs and meets friends regularly. She is respected and loved. Yet the death of her husband means a loss of focus in her life, a silence where there was once conversation, loneliness instead of companionship. She has memories and regrets. I seize the opportunity and invade her thoughts.
It is easy to make her focus on past times. Alone now and with the aches and pains of age, she feels less confident so I can make her see the modern world for what it is – a place of distrust and wickedness. The boy who brushes passed her in the street becomes a potential mugger, the unkempt man in the shop a pickpocket, the salesman at the door a thief. I fill her mind with past pleasures and slights, once forgotten but now so easy to recall. She draws back from the present. She ignores her friends, antagonises her family and becomes afraid of strangers. I delight in her bitterness, her pain, her loneliness.
She becomes a recluse, imagining all sorts of ills of her neighbours, refusing company, dwelling on her ailments and the imagined wrongs others have done her, wrongs that I insinuate into her mind. She is ignored and alone. I gain strength from her torment till weak and confused she falls and sinks into her last sleep.
He is a successful executive, much sought after, proud of his family and liked by all. And yet there are doubts in his mind that draw me too him. It is easy for me to encourage his questions; is he still attractive to women? His wife says she loves him but there is less time for lust. The young girl in the office has time to play. I encourage his dalliance, trading his pleasure in her body with guilt he feels at betraying his wife. The girl will soon become bored by his middle-aged lovemaking. Sure enough when she finds that he can no longer help her she leaves him for more satisfying experiences elsewhere.
The moment when he is rejected gives me more power than I have ever experienced. Now his doubts come to the fore. He is past his prime, over the hill. Younger men and women challenge his position at work and yet he has taken on financial commitments to provide for his family. Now he sees, thanks to me, the playing out of his later years, the death of dreams, the loss of control, the recriminations for failure, the end of ambition and love gone stale.
I drink in his despair and drive him from one sordid affair to another until discovery leads to divorce. His job, once upon a time a career, becomes an inconvenience, a drudge. His time is taken up with the might have beens with which I fill his mind. His boss becomes dissatisfied and finally makes him redundant. Now he is alone I eat his depression. Late at night, driving from the pub he aims his car for the side of a railway bridge. I leave before the impact.
The boy is barely an adolescent, a little smaller than average for his age and with long hair that his father disapproves of. I am drawn by an uncertainty he feels, a sense of difference from his fellows. I foster his feelings of exclusion. He takes to staying at home instead of hanging out with friends. One afternoon when parents and his older sister are out he finds himself in her bedroom. Some clothes are thrown carelessly on the bed. He feels the light soft textiles, then, with a sudden urge, strips off his jeans and T-shirt and puts on the blouse and skirt. He stands in front of his sister’s long mirror and gazes at the unfamiliar image of himself. He is tense and fearful of discovery.
These emotions are my staple. What if his sister saw him, or even his father? What anger, what punishments, would befall him? I fill his mind with these guilty thoughts but strangely he dismisses them and remains twirling the skirt and tossing his hair. Time passes and reluctantly he removes the feminine clothes. He is unsure about what he has experienced and I offer all sorts of incitements to his internal discomfort. It is a blow to his masculinity, a perversion, he is different. He absorbs my arguments but at the first opportunity he is back in his sister’s room hunting through her drawers and pulling on knickers, tights, bra, a dress. This time there is no fear of discovery, he ignores my efforts; he knows what time he has available. He brushes his hair, puts on eye shadow, lipstick. I suggest he looks stupid, a boy in a frock, a drag queen, a pantomime dame. I am wrong. Seeing himself in the mirror he knows he is an attractive girl.
I am hurt and weakened. I must change my tactics. To receive nourishment I must make him suffer. I realise that I must encourage him and cut him off from his family and friends. He dresses in his sister’s clothes at every chance. He takes his first steps outside the house, at first tentatively, then boldly. He goes shopping, using his pocket money for cosmetics and clothes. I give him confidence that he can pass as a girl, and he does. I persuade him to avoid his friends, to spend more time on his pursuit of femininity; I light the fuse that will lead to his downfall. He stays dressed as a girl longer and longer, cutting the time for changing back to his male persona ever finer.
One day it happens. He is in town, window shopping, sauntering along the street. I draw his attention to a particularly sexy skirt so that he fails to notice that a boy, a close friend, is approaching. He is recognised, there is a shout, his name is called, and he turns to look directly into the eyes of the boy. I drink on the fear that surges through his arteries. The boy laughs. This is it, I feel, my host will curl up in horror at being found out and I will feast on his emotions. But something strange happens. He regains his composure, tells his friend that this is how he wants to be – a girl. The boy listens and soon they are sitting in a café discussing the implications. I am non-plussed. How could my subterfuge have gone wrong? I let them go on talking and make him forget the time. At last the friend gets up to leave and he realises that he has been out too long. He hurries home and all the way I fill him with despair. He cannot get there before his parents, his secret will be discovered. They will take away his skirts and dresses, his bras and blouses, his bracelets and necklaces. They will force him into male clothes and make him act like a boy.
At last he stands on the doorstep. He pushes the door open and there in the hallway is his mother and father. Surprise passes over both faces. Now I wait for his emotions to come pouring out and I will drink of them like I never have before. He bursts into tears and reaches out for his mother.
I wait, I wait, I wait. The flood of self-loathing, of disgust, of sorrow and despair do not come. His mother embraces him as he pours out his desire to be a girl. The parents show love and understanding, yes and knowledge too. It appears that he has not been as clever in hiding the secret as he had thought. His parents were awaiting an occasion such as this for it to come out in the open.
I am deflated, wrung out, bled of all power. There is nothing left for me in this youth. His joy at rediscovering the love of his parents, his relief that he can be she draws all energy from me. Without his fear I am nothing. I must escape and use what strength remains to me to find another host, someone with emotions that I can prey on. I creep, I crawl, I limp away from him. I must find a more hospitable haunt, somewhere to feed. But I am weak, failing. I am….