haunted places for haunted people

I’m pretty sure I’m heading into that weird early-morning trainwreck headspace I don’t need to be in.

but that’s okay, I do what I’ve always done.

I get myself into a corner, I write my way out of it. It’s the only thing that works.

There’s no telling how many words I’ve scribbled at the altar of this thing. There’s a darkness in my head. And in my mind, there are so many rooms–shifting, always shifting, rooms turning themselves upside down. Dumping their contents out, twisting till it pours from one room to the next. And inside, I am constantly searching for a safe place to put my feet. Nothing’s sacred–no point in installing fixtures or arranging things just the way I want them to be. Something comes along and sends this labyrinth spinning, turns the floors to ceilings until I can’t tell the difference between running or falling.

There is an art to what I do, now. I don’t grab onto things or let go, not really. I slip from one place to the next, closing my eyes for a second to see if it’ll hold. And if it does, I catch my breath while I can, brace myself for the next tumble, because what I am really, really good at is falling. Slipping and sliding, tossed about, a leaf on a violent wind.

and here inside this haunted house, on nights like these, where the doors open up and things drift out of closets, come creeping out of the shadows, I just stay where I am.

This darkness in me is almost comfortable, a familiar tug at my fingers, a caress on my cheek. Whispering, isn’t it time you let me out? And me, smiling, because those are the oldest words. The oldest command–

Let me out.

And I do. Not like I used to. Not in the wild ways–running through streets and forests and woods in the middle of the night; slapping paint on canvases in the garage, blasting music because everyone was drunk or asleep or didn’t care; riding my bike at 3 AM to whereever, because in this place there are no limits, no stopping, no one, no one to say no.

Here, with this old and familiar darkness, tendrils of smoke pouring out of my eyes, my nose, my ears, my mouth, I’ve learned that it is easier to obey. I let it flow down my arms, curl round my wrists, weave over my fingers until it makes me its medium and lets itself out–

This space is where I know what it is like to be possessed,

What it’s like to have a terrible desire that eats you from the inside out,

irrational, uncontrolled, a creature less of thought and intellect than urge and instinct, propelled forward by nameless, unspeakable things. This is what it demands, what it wants–transmutation. Nothing out of something; everything out of nothing. It’s both empty and a cauldron, perpetually boiling over, always in need of release.

This is no different than sitting up, four am, propped between the frame and the screen, scribbling as fast as I could, hoping five sticks of incense could cover the smell of cigarette smoke. Obeying this thing as I always have, because really, I don’t have much of a choice.

The house in my head is twisting and turning, shifting, shifting, and someone has to catalog everything inside. All the archetypes walking through–the Mother, the Shadow, the Black-Eyed Woman. A legion of wolves and ravens loping and swooping, dancing with each other through a field of silver and gold. Orphans and lovers, demons and saints. Black waves that go on forever, and the White One, who’s always walking too far ahead.

There is a forest in this house, and a maze, too. A vestibule where time turns in any direction you want. There are stars and stars and stars, a thousand crescent and gibbous moons. Deep woods lit by clouds of blue-white fireflies, where you are never quite alone.

There are beaches and gorges, vast, empty spaces. Somewhere, far off in a nearly-unreachable space, there is a shore where all things end and all things begin, a place of waiting for the final sleep.

These days, the water laps around my toes. It’s never gone past my ankles, and I’ve yet to walk in of my own will.

The only thing this house doesn’t have is an architect, and I am perfectly comfortable leaving that post empty. Some mysteries should be maintained.

And when I remember that this labyrinth inside my head is as beautiful as it is terrifying, it makes that darkness abate. Creep backwards, drawing in. Brushing the rooms as it retreats, but there’s no real movement, no twisting or turning inside my head. It leaves me here, eyes closed, fingers finally still on the keys.

Now, I have enough peace to sleep.

Published by

Aderyn Pru

Writer with a dark streak. Giant nerd, psych grad, freelance editor, & mental health advocate. Frequently awkward, always weird.