"Erik's Journal"
By Niko Wilde
Copyright 2002, all rights reserved

I don't feel you the way that I used to. All my life, you've been with me in some form or another, but since the stranger, it's almost as if a part of me is missing. Lost. You sense it too, don't you? That's why you visit my dreams, sometimes. To let me know that you're still out there, somewhere. Still waiting for me to find you.

Tonight, though...it's different.

Tonight, the stars are too bright. The air is too heavy. My skin feels as if it's stretched too tightly over my bones; nothing fits, nothing feels right. I don't have the words to explain how it feels, even now I'm stumbling and falling short.

I can't decide if I feel like screaming, or crying.

I'm empty. Do you know how that feels? It's not a hollow feeling, though. It isn't the nothingness described in too many sappy love songs, caught in tinny bursts from a million different car radios, whizzing past on the highway behind me. If it was nothingness, it wouldn't hurt this way. It wouldn't feel as though someone had taken a knife, and cut off something vital and important, like an arm or a leg. Something that's been with you from birth; a part of you that you've relied on every day of your life, since you were old enough to have a conscious thought. That's how this feels. I keep looking for it, blindly searching for the one thing that's brought me through so many days before; the hidden inner knowledge that I've never been alone before, not really. I reach for it, in the dark; I try to wrap myself up in it, the way that I used to, when I was younger and more frightened than this. I reach for it, and it isn't there any more.

But tonight, it is. Not to the extent that it was before, but I can feel you all around me. I can see your eyes in the stars; I can hear your voice in the breeze, whispering your quiet reassurances. And even though I welcome all of it, I'm wary, because I know the connection is going to be gone again when I wake up tomorrow.

I don't want to feel that aching emptiness again. I need to find you. If I could just touch you, once...if I could look into your eyes, and put all of my doubts to rest...

I would be able to breathe again.

Yes.

Unless I'm just losing my mind, and you're nothing but a made up voice inside my head. I've read about it, you know- the way people are sometimes damaged so badly that they lose the ability to relate to the world around them, and so they splinter into different personalities as a way to protect themselves. Is that what I've done? Is the emptiness that I feel coming from the fact that my mind is trying to absorb you back into whatever corner of my mind that created you, in the first place?

You were there with me the first time the old man ever touched me. You told me that everything would be fine, and nothing could ever really hurt me as long as you were just a thought away. "Everyone has trials, baby. This one is yours. When all is said and done, you'll burn brighter than the sun, and I'll love you more for it."

No one ever told me that they loved me, before. Could I have made it all up, as a way to comfort myself?

No. No, I don't think so. The sudden emptiness wouldn't hurt so much, if you were just a figment of my imagination. And I'm going to keep telling myself, over and over again, until I actually believe it.

You went away from me, after the stranger. I hate using that term, but I never knew his name, or who he was. After the old man and I got settled in our new home, which was actually more like a two room shack with a dirt floor, *he* appeared...and let me tell you, he looked every bit as out of place as *we* did. I just assumed he was another vagabond, running from something or someone. I never considered the possibility that he might have been running *to* someone.

No, that didn't come out right at all.

I think he was looking for me. I think he wanted to hurt me.

Again, no...it's not coming out right. I still don't understand it enough, to be able to relate it to you.

He became my friend. You have to understand, I was desperate for company. For years, I had gotten used to the old man's attention being focused elsewhere. On other people. And to suddenly have it all thrust back on me, all at once, it was almost too much for me to handle. But this man offered friendship, when I desperately needed *something*, to keep me sane. I took it. I took it all at face value. It was the only time I've ever been naieve, in my life...and I think it was a terrible mistake.

It changed too suddenly for me to grasp. All of a sudden, he wasn't my friend- he was dangerous, and there was no one to run to. The old man? I would have been trading one form of violence for another, because if he ever found out that I was spending all of my free time with this other man...telling him secrets that I'd never told anyone before...

Sometime, I'll have to tell you about his temper.

All I remember about that last night is pain, and blood, and the feeling that I had failed, miserably. I thought the man was going to kill me...actually, if I'm going to be honest, I thought he *did* kill me. I remember drifting through a pleasent, warm darkness, and thinking "if this is death, it's really quite a bit better than being alive." There were words spoken that I couldn't quite understand. This man was very upset over the thought that he had let me die, and it made no sense to me.

But, of course, it didn't end there. Something brought me back, and I don't pretend to understand the reason why.

When I woke up, the old man was dead, and I couldn't feel you any more. I was alive, but...

This is difficult to explain. I felt as though the part of me that made me who I was, was gone. I was different; changed, somehow. And when I slept that night, the dreams started.

Fire. Fury. Screaming.

No more for tonight. It's going to be morning soon, and I need to get settled in for some sleep before Jess wakes up. He's a good person. I feel safe with him. Tomorrow, I'll try to tell you about what happened with Christian, and how I met Jess.



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