As soon as I arrived, I could tell she didn't like me. She ignored me for the longest time: pretended I wasn't there. Until she couldn't pretend anymore.
I admit, I forced myself on her. I was not invited. I never am. This has made me opportunistic. I look for weaknesses: a window left ajar that I can creep in through. She had been careless and it was easy to get in.
I am quiet when I first arrive. But she knew I was there. I waited. She tried her best to carry on but my presence built in her, like ants swimming in her veins, an irritant, sharpening the edges of her words. I was the friction in her day to day interactions, pushing her tolerance levels way down. In the mornings, I showered with her, the mingling of hot water and tears the thrilling culmination of my quiet, constant work.
One morning, she stood before the mirror. Staring at her reflection, she saw me looking back. I was there in her eyes: they were full to the brim with my emptiness.
When she sat down with her mother and boyfriend and wept uncontrollably, my own emotions were conflicted. I was revelling in my success but she was exposing me to others. I knew that they would not like me either. They would tell her she could force me to leave.
So I stepped back a little. Biding my time. She had become expert at denying my existence. She was expending incredible amounts of energy compensating for the weight of my passage, so careful not to let others know that I was travelling with her. When she was alone, the exhaustion crushed her. She tried to keep it from her boyfriend but that was impossible. Increasingly, she was exposing me to him and increasingly, he was agitating for my removal. I was nervous.
Finally, like an intervention, her boyfriend and mother convinced her to see a professional. It was the only way to be rid of me.
She began to drug me. I was weak, swimming through molasses and slowly, she started to push me away. Where previously, she had lay resigned in my arms, now she wrestled me. In the mirror, she stared right at me, angry, defiant. I had to look away.
Eventually, she stopped looking for me at all.
But I did not leave.
I had a lovely moment of resurgence when she got pregnant. She stopped drugging me and I pushed my way back in record time. Fucking agitators were quick to step in. Drugged once more, I felt myself fading again but not before I drank in her tremendous guilt.
The months passed and I felt her apprehension grow. Once the baby arrived, the time would be ripe for me to take control again. But I stayed trapped. I was too weak to offer any resistance. And this time, she wasn't ignoring me. It was like she didn't recognise me at all.
But I did not leave.
Still drugging me, her second child arrived. This time, I could feel electricty pulsing through me. In small amounts, I was breaking through to the surface. She felt it, too. Tiny jolts that brought out the fight in her but the fear in her eyes was unmistakable. I was not winning but I was in the game. I have learnt to survive on very little.
Recently, she decided not to drug me. Having weakened me substantially, she was feeling confident. I was choking on her happiness. Within twenty-four hours, I could feel myself like a noose around her fucking neck.
Stupid bitch. Doesn't she know that we'll be together forever?
This piece was written in response to a writing prompt from The Red Dress Club. This week's assignment was to think of someone – it could be a fictional character, a public figure, someone you know – who gets under your skin, and write a piece from his or her perspective.