I live with demons. They’re short, and squat, and playful, and flexible. They look like little toad-monkeys with fangs. They hang out on my shoulders and head mostly, but sometimes they’ll jump down to my hips or the line of hair below my belly button. They fall asleep with me at night and wake up with me in the morning.
Sometimes they seem handy to have around, like the other day on a crowded train when a woman used her bag to take up two seats. A few of the demons jumped off my shoulders, hopped over to her lap, climbed up her arm, and whispered in her ear, you’re taking up too much space. The woman moved her bag and I sat down. The little demons stayed on her shoulders. They bounced up and down and giggled and celebrated the effect of their power.
Demons demand a certain amount of attention. If I ignore them, they don’t say anything, but they will multiply like a pathogen until there are so many of them they run out of room in me. When that happens, big groups of them will jump away at once and land on whatever is closest.
Some of the demons were with me while I waited for you at the bar the other night. One bounced up and down on my shoulder while another swung from my ear. A few of them raced up and down the bar, and looked back at me pleadingly when they saw a customer being rude to the bartender. I looked at them and thought; you guys aren’t going to help with that, so they went back to entertaining themselves. I think they got scared when you showed up.
They stopped playing and came to sit quietly on my shoulders, and watch you, and watch me. They saw the way you made me smile, and while we talked, they plotted. One of them quietly climbed down my arm and tried to sneak over to you. Just as it reached out to bite your hand, I gave it a look and it came back, dejected. So instead the demons started to yell and sing and tease. They’re cunning little creatures.
His eyes are blue and so are you! His eyes are blue and so are you!
To which I thought, yeah, that’s accurate. I like his blue eyes, and everybody gets blue. They quieted down and a few of them even lost interest and climbed down into my coat pocket to take a nap. We kept on talking. I like your stories. I like that you shaved your head for camaraderie and jokes. I like imagining you jumping in a cold ocean. I like finding out about a crab with a knife.
I noticed some of the demons gearing up as I started to feel at ease. They put on armor and pulled out daggers and painted each other’s faces. To which I thought,
I get it guys, this is scary, but I think you’re being a little dramatic. You might like him too.
Then, for some reason, I told you about the article I read about beer and how there’s a correlation between people who like to drink IPAs and people with dark personalities, and how I like IPAs, and then I said, “but that article probably isn’t credible and it’s probably not true,” and you said, “I have a dark personality and I like IPAs,” and that’s when my demons got really loud.
They yelled, don’t let him see us!
And I thought, guys, I don’t think you’re a discreet as you think you are. He probably already can see you, and also, I think he just put one of his demons down on the bar.
I’m going to put one of you down there too. So I gently picked one up by the ears, and it beat its chest, and it bared its teeth, and I said, “I have a dark personality, too,” and I put it down on the bar next to yours, and waited to see what it would do, and it looked at your demon, and your demon looked at mine, and they sized each other up, and then they started to laugh and play, and you and I went back to talking, and every now and again I’d look down at our demons, saying things to each other like, sometimes I think I’m the only one.
Anyways, you know how the rest of the night went. You sang along to that song from the 90s that apparently everyone knows, including that guy over there. We found out that we’re both INFPs just INFPing it up. Your eyes stayed very blue, and when we got up to go, I looked into them for a second, and I saw your joy, and I think you saw mine, and I was happy.
We started to walk together, and for two unsure people, the “do you want to come back to my place?” conversation was really easy. The cold definitely helped. I told you the lore of my neighborhood, while we walked, and about the guy who killed a giant rat with a pitchfork, which made us both laugh, because, New York. In retrospect, we bonded over some weird shit.
Later, when we were lying in bed next to each other, I stayed awake for a while feeling grateful and affectionate. I think some of our demons and joy found each other, and held each other in the night. I think some of them worked together to build bonfires on our bodies and surround us with their armor and war dances, and tried to protect us from doubt and pain for a little while. I fell asleep feeling safe and happy next to you.
When I woke up in the morning, the little demons that had been sleeping stretched their legs and yawned. The ones that had been on guard came and sat down next to me. They didn’t like it when you said you had to go. They wanted you to stay. They hissed at you and said things like, we don’t want you here anyways. I ignored them and helped you find your shirt.
Then you came back to bed, and they rejoiced, and said things like, do something to make him stay. He’s going to go soon. He’s better than you. He won’t come back unless you do something. Do something! So I said things like,
“I don’t think I can” and “I need your help.”
Then I hid in your chest, and you didn’t understand why I was upset, and I didn’t understand why I was upset, and then I told you what I was feeling, and I realize that it was some bullshit that had nothing to do with you, but I can tell it bothered you, and you left, and some of the demons went with you, and some of them stayed with me, and they all giggled and cried at the effect of their power, and they said, wow, you really fucked that up, because they’re assholes.