's 2020 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Sunnymatsu

You remember every instance.

It’s a curious thing, fear. It clouds your mind, removes all thoughts, all obstacles, and digs down deep, deep inside. Sometimes you only remember the terror; it waits in the back of your mind until the simplest reminder gives it the chance to strike. Sometimes you remember everything. Sometimes it doesn't even feel like fear. Sometimes you turn the memory over and over in your mind, trying to find out how it could possibly be so vivid.

Sometimes you remember sitting with your mother on the couch, ignoring the movie playing, giving furtive glances to the lobe of her ear. Sometimes you remember your cousin complaining about an infection as you walk down the halls of a museum. Sometimes you remember your father's wedding ring, tight and outgrown, but still worn. Sometimes you remember shopping in a mall, your hands grazing the bows and lace hung on the wall, as your mother calls out to you-- "You barely even feel the pain," she beckons, "It's just a tiny pinch."

Sometimes you remember a wedding. The long dress you wear is beautiful, you know it is, but it feels alien on your skin. You pick up the necklace you got for your birthday, a tiny thing, golden and adorned with a small piece of quartz. Your hands tremble as you place it over your head. Sometimes you don't remember the wedding, but you do remember the necklace. You remember every minute of it touching you.

Sometimes you remember your first girlfriend. You remember ornate earrings that dangle low, low, and swing as she walks. The sun catches on them, so bright it's almost blinding.

Sometimes you remember her head on your lap, eyes closed and content, as you run your fingers through her hair. Sometimes you remember the feeling of cold metal. Sometimes you remember pulling your hand away in surprise, and sometimes you remember the metal coming with it.

Sometimes you remember a squelching noise instead of a scream. Sometimes, you look down and see the long, golden vein of metal stretching out from her ear. It is thick, and branching, and you try to move away, and you see it worming its way out of her flesh.

Sometimes you remember her begging you to stop. Sometimes, you see it squirming, burrowed deep inside of her, trying to crawl its way back in. Sometimes, you keep pulling.

Sometimes you remember standing outside, back against the wall, chest heaving. Sometimes you can still feel the cold metal on your fingertips. Sometimes you can see the blood on your hands. Sometimes you can’t see at all.

Sometimes you can taste iron in your mouth, and sometimes you think that it’s blood. Sometimes you hope that it’s blood. Sometimes you pray that it’s blood. Sometimes you know it isn’t.

Sometimes it’s hard to pin down how you feel. A loss (not a success), yet not a loss (indeed, a gain). There is more of you now, yet less of “you”— you are hollow, yet filled to the brim. The squirming inside of you makes you feel cold. Sometimes the cold is bitter, burning you from the inside out. Sometimes you feel it bend as you move.

Sometimes you remember your mother’s face. Sometimes you remember her ears. Sometimes you remember her words.

“You barely even feel the pain.”