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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

The Meaning of Achlys

AUTHOR'S NOTE: There is some foul language in this piece. It is there with purpose though.

I cripple her with fear. Fear that she will never succeed. Fear that she will die alone. Fear that no one cares for her in the slightest. I can do that with ease and it fills me with great pleasure. She is a rather easy target. She has an overwhelming amount of doubt. She thought she rid herself of me when one loser said that he loved her. Ha! Who could possibly love someone like her? She is weak and worthless. She is definitely not smart, even though others tell her differently. She is absolutely alone in this world and absolutely no one can save her.

The first loser to tell her he loved her did help her push me to the side. It all started when she went to that party. She was a bit reluctant to go (my doing) but one of her idiot friends drug her along. She didn’t really mingle too much (also my doing). One of her idiot friends made a comment about how she never attends parties and that statement worked in my favor for most of the night (seeds of doubt are so beautiful when they sprout). She sat on the edge of the back patio and watched people play beer pong for the majority of the event. It was while she was sitting and watching that she saw him. She knew him once upon a time. She was interested in him when she first met him and seeing him again brought back all of those feelings. So I had my work cut out for me. I could not let her just be consumed with old feelings. What kind of a friend would I be if I allowed that? I did my best to keep her away from him. She did not need someone like him in her life.

Despite my best efforts, he found her. Watching them reconnect was so cute I wanted to vomit explosives and watch it all burn. She found him absolutely irresistible. She gave him her number and made him promise to remember that he had it the next day. Did I mention that he was intoxicated and she was completely sober? Yeah, that was a thing. So long story short, these two got along very well and they decided to date exclusively. He made her quite happy and she didn’t have a doubt about her happiness. She did, however, have doubt about whether or not he would stay very long.

Like I said at the beginning, I cripple her with fear. I am her kryptonite. The difference between me and kryptonite is that I am embedded in her system. She will never be rid of me – there is no cure. The only thing this loser was good at was keeping me quite for a while. He essentially shoved a cookie in my mouth every time he calmed her down from the panicked state I place her in whenever it pleases me. But cookies can only go so far and his started tasting like soap. It is fun to send her in a panic. I send her into mazes most of the time, but every now and then a black hole will do the job just as well. I suck her dry of any energy and ounce of happiness she might have within her.

When the loser decided that he was done with her, she broke. I took advantage of the situation – kind of like how that loser took advantage of her, but she wasn’t sure how to handle the situation with him. She knows how to handle me, so it can be a bit more of a challenge, but I welcome the challenge. She chose to write me a letter. Made me feel special because she does not like to waster her ink. She wasted some on me.

I wonder if I should ask you how you’ve been because it’s been a bit since we’ve spent some quality time together. I realize you must be exhausted from fighting your way in. I know my attention that was typically yours has been given elsewhere, but now that is done. Because that is over you’ve taken complete advantage of the situation. I know you didn’t get as much attention as you once did due to this other thing, but is it really necessary to be so malicious? You have taken things that once brought me inexplicable joy and turned them into the terrors you use to keep me trapped inside the labyrinth you’ve created.

ENOUGH! I cannot take it anymore! The sleepless nights that are not even insomniatic. You are seriously worse than a super homesick camper. You cannot keep waking me up like this. My body needs rest so it can function. The lack of desire to be around those I love. The disinterest in my hobbies that are my passions. I can’t truly function in society because of you! Please stop! You annoy me more than my little brother ever could. You make it difficult for me to relax and unwind from the stress of the day. Stress must be your best friend. I only see excess of him when you are around. Maybe the two of you are more than friends, which is why you two go hand in hand.

It’s not that I despise you with every ounce of my being…no…wait… THAT is EXACTLY what it is. I despise your with everything that I am.

I have seen… I have tasted the joys of life. I was so graciously shown the light at the end of this ever shrinking tunnel. It is so beautiful! I wish I could partake in the beauty but you’re worse than the witch who locked up Rapunzel when it comes to allowing me to step outside for some fresh air. I AM DONE! You and I are done. I know you’ll always be around but we cannot spend as much time together as we have in years past. Yes, you presented yourself as a friend when we met ten years ago. Yes, you were very kind to me in the beginning. Now… Well, now you just exhaust me. I can’t take it anymore.

Pardon my language, but you are a self-centered bitch! You expect way too much from me. I cannot meet your high demands. I am only me. I have multiple interests as well as a multitude of people in my life who would like my attention just as much as you. I have to divide my time and attention amongst all of them. It cannot go to you and you alone. No relationship is healthy when you spend every second of every day together. Something is bound to go wrong. I hope you understand. I just can’t do this anymore. It’s like living out of a box with you, only pulling out a few things at a time. No one can ever get to know who I really am if I only pull some things out of the box. I’m not saying I’m going to dump the contents of the box you so kindly created, but I’m not going to put things away just because you’ve decided I should. I am fully capable of making my own decisions. I’m not two. I’m nearly twenty-two. The rest of the world recognizes me as an adult. Why can’t you?

I’m not going to argue about this. I am done. I am giving you the courtesy of telling you so you can move on too. Not that you will. It’s not in your nature to “just move on”. You prefer to linger. You lingered and tried to cause problems in my relationship. You saw how well that went. It went well for me, but not so well for you. Please…that is all I ask of you. Please, just leave me alone. You’ve made your mark. You’ve made multiple makes, actually. You and your boyfriend, stress, have left scars all over my shoulders and my back. How could I ever forget you? It’s not like you’ll ever let me. Every now and then you try your absolute hardest to get me to make new makes where the old ones are fading. Sometimes you are successful. Other times, not so much.

I have said enough. I think you get the picture. Please take this to heart and move on. I. Am. Done.

Such a sweet letter, don’t you think? I do feel unbelievably honored that she took the time to write me. She only writes to those she cares about. There is some truth in what she says. I do fight for her attention. I need a certain amount of attention each day. All of her comparisons amuse me – homesick camper, little brother, the witch from Rapunzel…. All amusing comparisons, wouldn’t you agree?

Why did she have to be so harsh though? Self-centered? I am not self-centered. I care so much for her. All I want is what is best for her. As an introvert, what is best for her is to be alone all of the time. She does not need to be exhausted by all of those people. She can take care of herself – of that I am well aware of – but I love taking care of my Maxine (or Max as I like to affectionately call her).

Stress? My boyfriend? Ha! Honey, Stress is my husband. We are bound by a love so strong that nothing can change the force of our powers combined. Enough on that, though…

She claims that she is done with me, but she’s not. Her heart is tied to mine like she claims her heart is tied to the one who just broke it (more like shattered it if you ask me). The one who just abused it. The one who is continuing to abuse it. I am not abusing her; I love her. Why would I abuse what I love? Yes, I have used recent events as terrors. I just want her to know how it feels. How it feels to have your love ripped from you. You can say that what I am doing is rather insensitive, but I promise you there is a method to my madness. While Stress and I are bound together, I do not talk to him very often. He likes to flirt with everyone. It’s like he has a multitude of mistresses. I deal with it because if I try to do anything that is not pleasing to him, he sends me to his brother – Greif. I do not really want to talk about it, if you do not mind. I know not many like talking about their abuse. Many feel like it is their fault. There are many, like Max, who do not realize they have been abused until the damage is done. They do not feel like they can say anything because they know the abuser will simply deny it, and they do not have any physical evidence to prove it. So they wear an internal badge, much like the internal badge the minister in The Scarlet Letter wore, and try their best to move forward with life. It’s why I draw close to them in these specific times. They do not always enjoy my company, but I make sure that they know I am here and I care.

It’s more than just those who have been abused that I draw near to, though. Any kind of broken heart, really anyone that Stress and Grief have bothered is who I visit. My efforts do come across wrong one hundred percent of the time. I wish it was not that way. I wish I was more like my sister Comfort. She always puts everyone at peace. Even my husband and his brother are at peace when she is around. No one ever raises their voice to Comfort – makes me rather envious of her. Comfort actually started visiting Max not too long after Max wrote me that letter. Max was a peace. She was happy. At least she seemed that way. I wanted to be certain, so I did a little digging. She was still hanging around that loser. He was getting her hopes up about getting back together. There was still an understanding that there were strong emotions there for both of them. I saw something though, that Max could not see. There was something in that loser’s heart that needed to be brought to light.

I am not entirely proud of what I did, but I asked for a few favors from some of my husband’s friends and they did their job better than I expected. When the loser informed her of what I had done (not that either of them knew it was me), the pieces she had put back together shattered again. She started questioning herself. She thought she knew her heart and the loser’s intentions. She noticed that he was slowly slipping through her fingers. They still hung out, despite what happened, and her friends were convinced that the loser still loved her and would come back to her. The loser’s actions did not change too much despite the new thing in his life. I tried to reach out to Max, but all she did was write me another letter.

Why must we keep meeting like this? I thought we addressed your surprise visits the last time you showed up. YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE! You are still causing problems. I know I want certain things in life, but you are making me doubt my own confidence in that knowledge. I know my gut instinct is rarely wrong but you are even going as far as to mess with both my confidence in my instinct and my instinct itself. You are trying to tear my apart again. You have already succeeded in my relapse with the progress I had made with my self-destructive tendencies. My shoulders and back are read and welt covered thanks to you. Are you happy now? You are pulling me back in – against my will. There is no double meaning in that statement – let me make that perfectly clear. Just leave… PLEASE!

I was not trying to get her to give in to her self-destructive habits, I promise! I just wanted her to see the harm he was causing. I do not wish for any harm to come to my dear Max. I do not wish for anything horrible to happen to anyone. I know that is a common thing to happen with a visit (harm, that is – just want to be clear), but I never wish that upon anyone.

Because she was quite adamant that I leave her alone, I respected her wishes. I backed off, but I did not truly leave. As far as she was concerned, I left. I watched as she stayed by that loser’s side. Slept by his side – despite what he was doing when she was not around (AND she was completely aware of what was going on when she was not around because HE TOLD HER). I would pop in for a visit every now and again, but nothing seemed to be able to tear her away from that loser. She did reach the point where she felt like she could see other people, but she did not go out of her way to see other people.

I knew she would find someone someday. Someone who would be better than this loser who seemed to come right out of a bloody romance novel. Just so we are clear, I am using a British curse word. I am not talking about a horror romance (even though… yeah never mind). Literally everything that seemed to happen for her and that loser gave the appearance of a work of fiction. Instant interest betwixt them. Their first kiss – OH the kiss! It was literally straight from a writer’s imagination. The way he tenderly took her chin in his fingers and guided her lips to his. It just all worked out as you would expect things in a novel to work. It sounds ideal, but due to the ideal appeal she was blinded to what was really going on until it was too late and her heart was too attached.

Max did eventually start to see the problems. While she did not wish to simply throw away a friendship, she did back away. With classes starting back up, it was easy for her to do so. In the midst of all her busyness, she did find someone. She did not say anything about her interest, mostly because she thought it was due to being lonely. She did not want to use someone like she had been used before. So she swore herself to secrecy about the entire topic. Then her interest decided to speak up, which changed things.

I had been keeping an eye on this guy. My twin brother has been this weirdo’s constant companion; so I spoke with him on the topic.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine for her,” my twin said. “I just don’t know about her for him.”

“That does not make sense, dear brother. Either they are both good for each other or they are not good for each other. No in between.”

“We could always test it,” he suggested.

“Let them decide if they want to give it a shot and then mess with them a little bit?”

“It’ll be like when we were kids, sis.”

“It seems a bit cruel.”

“You know they both wonder if the other can handle them at their darkest.”

My brother was right, but that did not mean I wanted to do it. We did not have to interfere the first time they got time to spend alone (that is when my brother wanted to test things). Max’s interest was on a certain type of medication that did not agree with his system. The way that the medication was affecting him made things interesting enough. So interesting in fact that even my brother did not feel the need to shake things up.

I could see that Max was really nervous. She was not entirely sure if this was what she wanted yet. She had all of her reasons as to why she should not pursue this relationship in this manner. She also did not want to miss out on something that could be very good for her. Her curiosity as to where things could go is what won her over to allow this alone time. It was this night that the two shared their first kiss.

While this kiss is not as “by the books”, if you will, as her actual first kiss, it is still pretty sweet. They both were incredibly nervous. They were watching YouTube videos, all cuddled up next to each other on the couch. At one point, the weirdo made a comment about how the medication he was on was messing with his system. Max laid her head on his shoulder and told him that all she wished for him was for him to be comfortable. He rested his forehead on hers and said…

“Don’t worry, I am very comfortable.”

They remained in that position, with their foreheads touching, for a little bit. He then lifted her chin up and tenderly kissed her lips. This awoke the butterflies that had been dormant for months (almost a year, actually) and caused tears to well in her eyes. She found the energy in the midst of the surprise to make sure that he knew that she returned the affections. That was how it all began for Max and her weirdo.

We did mess with them a small amount. A few days after things were looking really promising, my brother decided to step in. He caused something in the weirdo’s life to affect him in such a way that could have easily scared someone away completely. Max reached out and encouraged him to talk about it. He did and then he laid in her arms and drifted off to sleep. It was while he was in this state of unconsciousness that my brother attempted to do his worst.

My brother fucked it up. He took it too far. He ruined something that was so beautiful. I honestly think that those two were an absolute perfect fit. I felt so bad for Max. She was the happiest that she had been in months, and it was ripped from her. So she did what she felt was best for her – she wrote. Her pen flew furiously across page after page and she filled up each page with her thoughts – her thoughts on the situation that my damn brother created, her sweet memories of the beautiful relationship. She even compared it to Hazel and Augustus of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars – she is so thankful for the little infinity, if that is all she is allowed to have with him. Yes, she wishes she could have more time but she understands.

That’s something I have always admired about Maxine. Her level of understanding and patience with others is amazing – mind boggling, if you will. I have never seen anyone be as understanding or as patient with other people as she is with those she meets. She had an outstanding amount of patience with the loser. It baffled everyone around her. It even baffled her. I believe that she will have even more patience with this one. Her heart was his. Of that I am certain. She cared so much for this boy. It was a shorter amount of time than when she was with the loser, but she cared so much more for this one. I cannot believe my brother fucked everything up. I cannot even begin to process his thought process on the whole situation.

“If there is really something there, then they will make it through,” my brother argued.

“Humans are delicate, dear brother,” I reminded him.

“I still stand by my words.”

I know my brother was just looking for some amusement, but his amusement was at the cost of others. It is something most of my kind do not understand. Humans are fragile things. They fell so much more than my kind ever will. My kind are responsible for the things they feel and many of my kind abuse that power. For it is a power that, honestly, no one should have – although many humans wish they could have something like it on many occasions. Because of how many abuse their power, I believe it is why there are humans who abuse others. My species lack something, I have strived so hard to have, that the humans have – heart.

I tried my best to comfort Max. My comfort does not always come across very well. Max seemed to welcome my company, though. She took time to write me another letter.

It’s been a little bit. You made an appearance, an unwanted appearance towards the beginning of what is now done. Well… seemingly done. I really do not want this wonderful thing to be done. I want to fight for it. I wish to keep it. Right now, I welcome your company. I do not wish to feel joy or happiness or enjoyment of any kind unless I can share it with the wonderful thing. I wish to curl up inside and stay safe.

Okay, just because I said I wanted to curl up inside does not mean I need my heart and lungs squeezed. Please ease up on your grip. I was being kind; do not make me regret my kindness. The shaking is not welcome either. If your comfort cannot be comforting, please do not give it. I do not wish to be cold or cruel to you. Looking back, I see how you have been a constant and how you have tried to have some kind of heart. Right now, my heart is grieving and preparing. If you know anything about what happened, please warn them that I am headed for war. I intend to fight for a heart that is dear to me as well as my own.

And there went all of my strength. What do you think you’re doing? If you think you’re protecting me, then you are crazy. I bet it was you. Do you have control over him too? That would explain why he understood so well. Why would you do this? He was wonderful and practically perfect in every way. Why take something so wonderful from me? Do you not want me to be happy? Is that it? You want me to be as miserable as you? That’s not a life I wish to live. I wish to have the life I had with him. A life filled with inexplicable joy and happiness.

So leave me alone or fix this.

She is blaming this on me? I am trying to comfort her, protect her from my weasel of a brother. I am looking out for her because no one else seems to care right now. She seemed to have taken notice of that, but then she started blaming it all on me.

As I was trying to find a way to help Maxine understand that I was not doing this to her – that I was trying to help her – my brother arrived.

“You have failed, sister,” he said to me.

“What are you talking about,” I asked.

“You didn’t fulfill your purpose in your Maxine’s life; therefore I have to take over.”

“What purpose,” I asked as the authorities of our world took me into custody.

He would not answer; he just took over “caring” for Max. He did not care for her at all. He made her life hell. I could have sworn he was going to force her to do something she swore she would never do. And I was forced to watch him do this to her. Abuse her the way that the power hungry of my society abuse those who are not like them. It is no way to live a life, but it is how they live life. They cannot possibly see the same things that I see, simply because they do not think the way that I think. I too was once like them, but I decided to take a moment and see things as they truly are. When I look at Max and her weirdo, I see two broken people broken perfectly for each other. They were each broken in just the right places to make them into pieces that fight perfectly together. My brother cannot possibly see that with the amount of lust for power that he possesses, which has now torn those two apart.

Because of my brother taking over what is supposed to be my responsibility, I have now been labeled as a failure in my society. They all mock me. The say I am far too understanding and that I have grown too soft like the humans. They say that I should go be one of them. How can you be something that is not part of your world? I really have no idea, but it is what those in my society are suggesting I do. The emotional pain that Maxine is experiencing at the hand of my brother is equal to the physical pain that I am receiving from my people. Especially that pain I receive from my husband. When he found out that I had “failed” he was furious. I have not eaten in weeks and I cannot say that I have a space on my body that does not bare a bruise. Failure is not taken too well in my society. It is viewed as weakness, which is not tolerated. They are being kind to me though. Most who fail are instantly killed; I, at least, have my life. It is painful for now, but I still can breathe and watch over Maxine from afar.

You know how after a while you get accustomed to your daily routine? And it becomes boring? Well… I cannot say that I could ever possibly become accustomed to my new lifestyle. I mentioned that I could still watch over Max from afar. I did not mention that my watching from afar was by force and not by choice. Part of my punishment is being forced to watch my brother do what was my job. Other parts of my punishment include being flogged every morning with all of the leftovers from the day before that society can find, and being physically tortured with them inquiring about what changed in me that I would become so soft on a simple human. The worst part of it all, in my opinion, is when they strap me to a chair, limb by limb, and essentially mount my head on something so they can control where it is that I look – to ensure that I do not look away when my brother is so brutal.

Have you ever been in a situation where you are completely aware of the dangers, but you’ve simply decided to turn a blind eye to it all? I have always been aware of my brother’s cruelties. That is probably why I did not mind it when my husband treated me the same way. But that is cruelty upon me, not others. I can handle that stuff on my own, but I would never – never (have I made myself clear?) – stand for that happening to another. Especially not for someone like Maxine, who is already so close to doing something drastic due to the cruelties she faces in her own life. Her weirdo was the one thing that was going well for her. I thought she may have had a chance to rid herself of my community once and for all. Her weirdo did not try to shut me up with soap cookies. He was something truly special for her. I wish it was not my brother attached to him. It literally could have been anyone else that I graduated academy with, but no, it had to be my dear twin brother.

“How are you, sister,” he would ask me as soon as I was completely strapped to the chair.

It’s not like I could make much of an actual reply because I would still be in so much pain from my torture moments before. Instead of giving him the satisfactory groan that he was always fishing for, I remained silent. I would just look at him with no expression. Something we were taught to do in the academy. Our sole role was for us to be absolutely unsympathetic to whomever we were assigned to – to essentially be emotionless. Something my own brother is failing at now. Yes, he is succeeding in being unsympathetic to Maxine, but we were to be unemotional in all things. By searching for some kind of reply that he has “won”, he is breaking that vow to be unemotional and should be receiving the same fate as I. Because what my dear brother is searching for is what all power hungry members of society desire, he will always slip under the radar.

After my brother politely asks about my state of being, he gives me a smug look then goes to his station to begin the day’s torture for Maxine and her weirdo. He is still responsible for the weirdo, even though he is taking on my responsibilities as well. I cannot say that I paid very much attention to what my brother did to the weirdo, because, no offense to him, I did not care what exactly happened to him as long as Max was essentially in Hell.

My brother dug through all of Max’s fears and secrets to find things to use against her. In his searching, he found the one molecule of attachment she has for someone she knew years ago and tried to use that against her. The way he set it up was she was spending time with the weirdo. This former interest showed up. Max did her best to determine what was going on and why this interest was there. When she got too close to what was really going on, my brother had the interest pull out a syringe. Max recognized the serum in the syringe and asked the interest what he was doing with it.

“To prove something to you,” was all the interest said and he threw it at her.

The syringe needle hit her in between her shoulder and collar bone. And because of the power my kind has on absolutely everything, the serum was injected into Max without the interest actually using the syringe properly. It caused Max to pass out. The weirdo asked what the interest had injected her with and the interest just told him that if he was lucky he would be able to wake her with a kiss. With that statement the interest left the room, leaving the weirdo to figure out what to do with Max’s lifeless body that was before him. The weirdo did find a way to wake her and Max was able to explain the serum to him. The serum was one that induced a panic attack so quickly that it causes unconsciousness. The whole “true love’s kiss” idea was just a bunch of bologna. And thus ended that scene. My brother seemed to be somewhat pleased with himself. That scene was the tamest of the ones that I had to endure. There are some I will never speak of because they are so heinous.

Something I can say for my brother’s efforts is that they did appear to make Max stronger. I know at one point she thought about succumbing to the pressure of the pain. She considered suicide. She considered drinking more than she did (which was only in rare social settings, so she did not drink much at all). She even considered picking up smoking or some kind of drug. She did dig into her shoulders and her back due to the weight of the pain. She did want to reach out to the weirdo, but she did not want to make him feel like he was responsible for her. Nor did she wish to make him feel like he had to do something about any of it. She knew that she could handle all that was being thrown at her. She had done it before, and she could do it again. My brother had no idea what kind of human he was dealing with. Maxine is a very stubborn, determined sort of human. She was absolutely determined to conquer what was happening to her. She refused to allow it to make her weak – even though she felt that on more occasions than she wished to admit. She was determined to become stronger from it all. Maxine was and is a fighter.

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