That’s what he looked like the first time that I saw him. Not a soul-sucking, teeth-gnashing, blood-churning beast of a Pokemon, but one that was delicate, thoughtful, and intelligent. A puppet master in disguise, lurking through my thoughts like a bloodthirsty shark knifing through the Pacific.
His name is Edgar, and he’s the bane of my existence.
Perhaps it was Edgar’s insipid looks and false pretense of innocence that beguiled me into forever humoring him. A sort of black, amorphous blob, Edgar’s eyes are as deep and soulful as a vast lake late at night, alluring and mesmerizing and enchanting at first.
Now I despise them.
The horrors began on a crisp, gusty fall day many years ago. I was six, and tomorrow would serve as an amazing milestone in my life — the start of my school career. I was in my room, watching a torrent of burgundy leaves fall past my window as I pondered on a decision of the utmost importance — what would I wear on the first day of kindergarten? My soccer jersey? A lavish teal dress? Spirit wear? But as I reached for a shirt adorned with unicorns, Edgar the Pokemon seemingly materialized from thin air, floating above my bedroom’s carpet.
“Don’t,” he whispered.
“Huh?” I was confused. Edgar, barely the size of a clenched fist at the time, seemed harmless and inviting to an oblivious six-year-old such as myself. The need to call for help never crossed my mind — after all, Edgar seemed so … innocent.
“Who are you?” I’d asked.
“Don’t,” he repeated.
“Don’t wear that to school tomorrow.”
“Because then people will make fun of you, and you’ll come home sobbing to your mother after the worst first day of kindergarten ever, “ he said matter-of-factly. “And you don’t want the other kids to think of you as a crybaby, do you?”
“Of course not!” I replied indignantly. “I wasn’t even planning to wear that shirt to school tomorrow anyway.”
And I never wore that shirt again.
Our meeting was so brief, so startlingly fast, that it almost immediately faded into the back of my mind. I was too preoccupied with the hardships that came along with daily life to worry about something that seemed trivial at the time. My grasp on free will had only just begun to loosen at this time of my life, and thus, I was still quite surprised when Edgar appeared for the second time a mere two months later on the school playground. I failed to notice the fact that he was now slightly larger, about the size of a grapefruit.
My classmates were urging me to swing upside down from the monkey bars, something I was sure I would not be able to do. Before Edgar arrived, all I could hear was a loud, warning voice in my mind, telling me to run. Yet it faded immediately when Edgar made his appearance, floating above the cold, unforgiving concrete of the school playground.
“Don’t,” he whispered.
“You again?” I exclaimed.
“Don’t,” he repeated.
“Don’t tell your friends that you won’t take the dare.”
“Because then people will make fun of you, and you’ll come home sobbing to your mother after the worst day of kindergarten ever,” he said matter-of-factly. “And you don’t want the other kids to think you’re a chicken, do you?”
“Of course not!” I replied indignantly, as my judgment faltered and prudence evaporated. “I was planning on doing it anyway.”
Twenty minutes later I lay in the stark white bed of an ambulance, my vision fading to black as blood caked my eyes from the large gash on my scalp. Strangely, all I felt was the throbbing pain from my concussed brain — not a morsel of anger. If Edgar had asked me to take the dare again, I would have done it in a heartbeat.
I think my tendency to turn a blind eye to the validity of Edgar’s demands was the reason it took me nine years before talking about him with anyone else. But as the years passed by, his appearances grew more and more frequent, and his demands became more insistent. His size seemed to correlate with my age, and he seemed to grow larger and more compelling between visits. I began to recognize how destructive his influence was on my life, and the rational part of my mind started fighting against his control. But Edgar had a sly way of manipulating me, coaxing, cajoling, seducing, commanding me to bend to his will. When I finally had to face the rigors of high school, I could handle him no longer.
Freshman year. I was strolling through campus during lunch with my friend Elena when it finally occurred to me that everyone might have an Edgar of their own.
“Elena?” I asked hesitantly. “Hmm?” Her eyes looked distant — she was listening to music, an Airpod in her left ear.
“Do you know who Edgar is?”
“Edgar? Is he in our grade? What’s his last name?”
“No — he’s not human.”
Elena laughed. “What is he, a dog?”
“No, he’s like…” I paused, struggling to put the idea of Edgar into words.
“He’s like…” As I glanced at Elena, I searched her expression for any sort of hidden understanding, a hint that she had any sort of idea of what I was talking about. But all I saw was confusion.
“Never mind,” I muttered under my breath.
I was overcome with disappointment, for I longed to have someone, anyone to talk about Edgar with. I was desperate, and I steeled myself as I haltingly confessed my struggles with Edgar to my parents at dinner that night, in hopes that they would understand. Maybe even offer a solution. I eavesdropped on them later, my ear pressed against the paper-thin wall separating the living room from their bedroom, and was hit with a rush of reality.
My mother spoke first — I could clearly visualize her on the other side of the wall, sitting petitely on her side of the bed, her face a mask of motherly distress and ignorance. “Jeff…I’m worried about our daughter. She’s been looking exhausted-so pale and thin lately. What a crazy thing she said tonight! About a creature that lives under her bed? Isn’t she old enough to not be scared of monsters anymore?”
My father’s voice was steady, strong, and confident. “We need to take her to a psychologist. I know a good one, about ten minutes away. Teens need someone to talk to, that’s all. We’ll take her next week.”
And it was at that moment that I knew that I was alone in this world, a world in which Edgar laid down the laws of the land. Ever since he first arrived, I knew deep down that I would never be able to disobey his commands. That was why, for the millionth time, I crouched above the toilet in the school bathroom, shoving my fingers down my throat, silently retching to rid my body of the soggy peanut butter and jelly sandwich I’d had for lunch minutes earlier. My throat burned as I felt the anger growing inside me. It was all his fault, and I was going to defeat him.
As I arrived home from school, my muddy shoes making footprints on the clean wooden floors of the kitchen, I felt cool and collected. There was an air of confidence about me — it felt like all the butterflies that had permanently resided in my stomach ever since Edgar had arrived had flown away. I perched on my boring, beige bed free of any unicorns and waited, ignoring my starved stomach shrieking for me to grab the granola bar sitting on the nightstand a few feet away from me. Ironically, it wasn’t until I finally gave in to my temptation to eat the bar that Edgar appeared, floating above my bedroom’s carpet as he had so many years ago. He was now the size of a horse.
“Don’t,” he whispered.
Suppressing the trembling in my hands, I scoffed, holding the granola bar in front of me tauntingly. “Don’t what? Eat this?”
Edgar’s nebulous face sharpened. “Yes. Don’t eat that.”
I hastily unwrapped the granola bar and shoved it into my mouth defiantly, chocolate smearing over my chapped lips. “I ate it,” my voice was deadly quiet. “What are you going to do about it now?”
Edgar didn’t say anything, his dark eyes watching me relentlessly, his expression unchanging and indifferent. I started to gag involuntarily and felt a stabbing pain explode deep within me as I realized with absolute clarity that he wasn’t worried at all. He knew that the next time he came, I would listen to him again.
And that’s when I decided to end it all, to finally be free of him. That, and the fact that I don’t think the psychologist would’ve helped in the slightest.