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Short Story: Illumination



Trevor Lang Carter


In this malignant place of sorrow, suffering is my only sustenance; a mental confinement where isolation and loneliness are my closest companions. Haunted by my Shadow; its ominous form stalks me without reprieve. Baleful manifestations creep into my mind like weeds, wrapping their deleterious tendrils around my sanity, squeezing out all hope and joy. Since I was a child, this has been the unrelenting narrative of my existence—a purgatory I endure to this day.

One cannot see their Shadow without illumination, just as one cannot see the shadow of their form without the glorious rays of the sun. It is a frightful proposition to peer into the abyss of one’s mind. Some part of us knows that suffering and depravity live there. Those old psychic wounds from the trauma we experienced throughout our lives still fester in the depths of our psyches. But we dare not look beneath the surface. We ignore those wounds as best we can, believing they have no power over us anymore. But that belief is born out of ignorance. The putrid pus of those wounds will surely poison us over time.

I sit on a rock at the edge of a river, listening to the water babble and gurgle with my eyes closed. I feel the warmth of Sol enlivening my skin. A gentle breeze brushes against my face and sifts through my hair. There’s a feeling of oneness at that moment as if I’ve entangled with nature. I open my eyes and see minnows near the shore, in a shallow, placid pool, as if trying to escape the furious flow of the river. I wonder if they’re communing, all huddled together as they are, discussing the dangers of moving out of their zone of safety into the surging stream.

In the distance, I hear the sky growl like an angry bear. My eyes turn up and I see the first signs of a storm coming. Gray phantoms haunt the surface of the water as Nimbus clouds move in overhead. The breeze isn’t so gentle anymore. My skin begins to lose its warmth. An unnerving rumble causes my bones to shake. Zig-zagging lines of energy shoot across the sky. I know my moment of solitude is gone. My atmosphere has been disturbed. I am … disturbed.

My chest heaves as I rise from the rock, my brief respite shattered by the approaching storm. The gravity thickens, creating a sense of unease—mirroring the turmoil within. As I start to move away from the river, a reflection glints in my eye—a shadow. But it’s not the shadow of my earthly form, it’s the shadow of my soul, a manifestation of my tormented self.

The dark form, now my constant companion, contorts and stretches in agony. It whispers baleful words in my mind, bringing to the surface of my conscious awareness memories I had hoped would remain locked away forever. Desperately, I try to disconnect from the form and the torrents of repressed emotions that it has evoked in me. But there is no escape.

The storm grows stronger, echoing the dark imaginings in my mind. The first raindrops fall, a discordant symphony of torment drumming against my skin. A flash of lightning gleams in my eyes and then another thunderous roar rattles my brain. It is then that I come to the realization that the storm, the river, the shadow—they’re all interconnected—reflections of a miasmatic mind—my mind.

My only shelter is a gnarled tree. It is under that tree that I confront the Shadow within me. It clamors to the surface of my conscious awareness, looking to feed. And I have fed my Shadow well over the years, with hate, anger, bitterness, and every wicked desire that has entered my impoverished mind. The psychic wounds, pushed into the abyss of my unconscious, demand my attention. I am forced into a confrontation with a terror that had haunted me for so long.

As the storm rages on, I begin to unravel the threads of my past. The injurious memories of unresolved trauma surface, mingling with the rain that washes over me in a cleansing deluge. The rumbling river reflects the chaos within. I look up into that gray abyss lingering above me and scream as I’ve never screamed before, releasing the pain, the guilt, and the shame that has enslaved me for so long.

It is to nature that I confess my sins to. With each confession, I feel those pervasive psychic forces release their grips. The storm begins to relent as I move back up to the river, watching the water flow more gently with each step I take. I can feel a warm ray of sunshine caress my face as the rain diminishes until it is no more. I peer into the water once more and see my shadow lingering at the edges. For now, it rests. But I know that I will one day journey again into that dark abyss—an ongoing struggle that will, hopefully one day, lead to illumination.

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