“You really should get out there and meet people”, they say. An automatic demand. They know my answer before stepping out to duel. It’s on the tip of my tongue. Ten paces and they’ll fire.

“You aren’t helping yourself”, they stab with their daggers wrapped in paper and bows. Miracles? That lightbulb shattered years ago.

“What are you going to do with yourself?”, with eyebrows crooked, they stare at me. I’m sat in a restaurant, reading a menu and picking a delicacy. Naught but tough cuts.

“You’re affecting our lives too”, through a thin wall they prod. Their dark light beams on my face. Bad cops. Judges in cashmere. Words as weapons.

“You can’t do nothing forever”, they aim at my heart. It’s a grey, weak core. Every speck of humanity squeezed like boiled rhubarb. Another judgement gripping till it bursts.

“Are you lonely?”

The ground rumbles and a terrible beast erupts through the crust. My most loyal companion: loneliness. It saps me, my hungry storm-black harpy.

Look at those who gave their time. They are brighter. With futures that grow trees and heal scars. My loyal companion sticks to my arm. It cuts fat skin. Fraud, it types.

“Why don’t you join a club or a choir?”

I look up at them. They are sincere, hidden behind their masks. Are they laughing? Protected from my noxious presence. Concrete wouldn’t shelter from the poison I produce. A factory for woe.

No spirit can vanish with words. To conquer the phantom, I must run from the questions that feed it. A lane with no end. They are playing in the fields. I want to jump over the fence.

I trust her.

Give me the strength to tell her.

This spectre can lose its charge. Cut the wires and the power goes. The spark struggling to light.

Hope it disappears.

Hope it buries into a pit.

Hope is all I have.

Writer. Regularly irritating. Moans about politics, Brexit, mental health, and culture. All views mine.