There are monsters etched into his skin. They bite him daily, gnawing and gnashing, eating at his flesh. They are needles that prick away, trying to erase him, replace him, and make him into something he’s not. When he gives in to them, when he glows, more than just his monsters scream. There are bodies on the floor, bodies he put there, bodies which will never rise again. There are monsters etched into his skin. Sometimes he thinks he is the monster.
He picks at them at night, digging fingernails into flesh, trying to break free. There is pain, there is blood, and there is laughter at his efforts. Here he shows his chains, ones he will never escape, and cries out in frustration. He huddles on the floor of his stolen refuge, hugging arms to himself and begs, begs, to be free of this, of everything. Then he locks it all away and stands. He clenches a hand into a fist and vows not to show such weakness.
Years later, he breaks this vow. She puts her hands on his face, calls him wonderful and everything else crashes away into silence. Her touch banishes the monsters, her words chipping away at the chains. They stand on a precipice and he calls himself hers because that way it’s easier to be him. He wakes, dreaming of demons, and she tells him he has nothing to be afraid of. Not anymore. He is weaker with her, he is stronger with her, and he thinks himself elf, lover, friend, free.