The Eternal Enemy

by Karen Joslin October 29, 2019

The Eternal Enemy

Night descends.
Shadows slink toward you from alleys and shuttered buildings.
You pass a graveyard, wind whipping your coat with chilling ferocity.
Wait – what was that sound behind you? Rattling bones?
No, no – surely it was only dead leaves skittering in the street.

You hurry home.
Shutting out the frightful dark, relief floods over you.
Yet despite the comfort of a crackling fire, you still shiver.
Hot tea would be an excellent remedy,
Though the glittering decanter of absinthe looks so tempting…

You prepare the absinthe by heart.
Icy droplets dissolve a sugar cube into the spirits, 
Each becoming a milky swirl pirouetting in the emerald elixir.
The Green Fairy dances with her paramour.
In her sweet embrace, you drown your fears.

Giddy, you collapse in a chair by the fireplace.
On the end table next to you sits a penny dreadful,
Its cover promising a lurid tale of terror.
How funny that you nearly fancied yourself
The protagonist of such a story!

You read the yarn with amusement –
Until you notice a delicate fragrance
Creeping in from behind you.
You recognize it immediately.
It's the scent you wear every day.

A soft giggle startles you.
Jumping to your feet,
You turn and see a shadowy figure.
Is this intruder real? A hallucination?
How can you fight it? 

You suspect it doesn't matter.
You feel sure that this sinister force
Will always be able to find you.
It steps into the light, your fear confirmed.
You can never escape yourself.

Karen Joslin
Karen Joslin


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