When in the Light
Written for The Hub’s Voyeur Anthology.
Not for the first time, Allen’s tears went right through my fingers as I tried to wipe them away. The same happened to my hand when I tried to touch his face. I sat next to him on his bed even though I knew that he could never know that I was there for him. I had always been under the illusion that I could comfort him every time he would cry, but I could never do anything for him, not even wipe his tears. It had always made me feel bad, but I was used to it now.
I was a shadow, one of the race that is cursed to lose its free will whenever light shines on us. We always regain our will every time darkness falls, but when light shines on our hosts, we are snatched from wherever we are and whatever we are doing to attach to and follow our hosts and copy their exact movements. But we are alive, and we do our own thing... when no one is watching, where no one can see us. No shadow would ever say that they like how we live, but it’s either that or not live at all.
As what is common for young shadows, my host before Allen came to my life was an inanimate object. I knew that I was dying back then, having been unable to find myself a living host despite the fact that my host was—of all things—a door. Fortunately, the door of a delivery room. Things would have been easy, except that I wasn’t the only one who needed a living host, and it was a pure stroke of luck that the moment the door swung open, Allen’s head peeked out. I clasped on him as fast as I could, and a link between us was created. When the doctor slapped his butt and he cried, I was also crying for joy. Only time would tell what kind of person he would grow into, which would determine the kind of shadow that I would become.
Shadows live by the emotions of their host. If a shadow grows up with a host that is always happy or always has more positive emotions than negative, he would continue to want that. In the event that he lost his bond with his host because of a circumstance like death, he would link only to someone who was like his former host. Shadows who grow up that way are called Granden and are known to have more endurance than their counterparts who crave for emotions like anger, sadness, and despair. They are called Arraden and are known to be stronger, but they easily burn out. And when they need a new host, they have to find one soon. They always do, though; it is always easy to find someone who has much negativity in his heart. If ever a shadow is not able to find a new host, he’ll slowly die until he would just disappear one day.
Besides our hosts dying, there is still one thing that we are very much afraid of: change. A change of heart is always fatal to our bond with them, for both the Grandens and the Arradens. A saint becomes a sinner, and his Granden shadow loses his life support to an Arraden. But the same is true for them too. A sinner converting to the other side would become the new host of a Granden.
So I’m glad that Allen grew up to be such a remarkable person. From the moment that I had linked to him, he had been nothing but good. He was the model son, and I knew that his parents were proud of him. He was one of the nicest guys in the neighborhood, and I’m pretty sure almost everybody liked him. He did have a few tantrum-throwings as a kid, but they were never so severe to destroy the link between us. I had never felt much despair and sadness from him. He had never felt depressed. Ever. Not even when he realized that he was attracted to guys instead of girls.
Until now, that is.
That teardrop that I tried to wipe from his face stung my whole being. There was so much bitterness in it that I wondered where those feelings could’ve come from. It was my first time to feel such intense emotions, and I shuddered, almost violently, at the effect that it had on me. But the fear that welled up within me wasn’t so much for me feeling them again; it was for the silver cord that linked me to Allen. It was shimmering, a telltale sign of breaking. I might lose Allen if he continued to be like this, and the realization brought sobs from me as I watched the cord continue to grow thinner as Allen cried up a storm of negative emotions.
Patrick. He was the reason; I just knew he was. That boy was too conceited, centered only on himself. He probably thought the earth revolved around him. The moment I saw his shadow, I had known that he was trouble, but he was just so beautiful that Allen couldn’t resist him. And Patrick knew it. I tried to warn Allen; I did everything I could. But I had never known any shadow who had ever succeeded in talking to their host and telling them to stay away from someone; I was no different. Allen fell in love with Patrick. I had watched it happen. I think it’s wrong to leave the affairs of men to themselves when you could see them going to destruction.
It took only one kiss, and Patrick had Allen in his bed. I felt all the most wonderful feelings coming from him, and I nearly had my own orgasm. But those feelings weren’t mine. Those feelings were what I fed off of, but they weren’t mine. I was furious inside because things weren’t supposed to go that way. I did my best to keep him away from Patrick, but it was like I did nothing. They were in bed together, and Allen thought that he had a wonderful thing going on. When I looked at Patrick’s shadow, he was smirking at me the same way his host was smirking at Allen’s sleeping face.
It went on for days, until, I guess, Patrick found another boy or girl—whatever—to play with. He was great that last night; he even had me fooled. He and Allen went out on a “date” that day, and it looked like they both had fun. When they finally ended up in bed, which they always did, I would even say that Patrick was the best lover that night. Nothing could have topped the emotions that I felt coming from Allen. He was on a high. His so-called boyfriend was a sex machine, and he wanted more. But when it was nearing Allen’s curfew, after another round of great sex—I have absolutely no other words to describe sex with Patrick—Allen heard the words he had never thought he would hear.
“I can’t do this anymore, Allen.”
I was shocked, but Allen had a funny look on his face. I knew Patrick meant what he said, but Allen seemed to think he was only kidding. He stared at the face of his so-called boyfriend for a long time until he realized he wasn’t being had. Patrick was breaking up with him.
“You can’t be serious. What’s wrong, Patrick?” Allen asked him, and I too felt the concern. My concern, however, wasn’t for Patrick but for Allen.
“This. This is wrong, Allen. We should stop doing this.” He put up a hand when Allen started to say something. “No, Allen. Please. Let’s just break up for a while until I sort out my head. This is wrong. I hope you understand.”
I seethed, seeing Roy, his shadow, with an amused expression on his face. He, it seemed, had seen this scene far too many times already.
Allen stopped dressing and sat down beside Patrick on the bed, hugging him around the waist and putting his chin on the guy’s shoulder. I felt sick. He started rubbing his hands across Patrick’s chest and stomach and licking his neck. Patrick was naked, and his arousal was clear for all to see. Allen had his hand on it, stroking up and down, and I wanted to slap him awake but my hand went right through his head. He gave Patrick a soft kiss on the lips then knelt down in front of him and licked his way down until he was sucking up and down on Patrick’s dick, and they were into it again. Allen actually believed he was making love to him. After he had brought Patrick to an orgasm, he stood and continued dressing, never expecting Patrick to reciprocate. He kissed Patrick softly on the lips again.
“I hope we can still be friends, Patrick. I mean, I won’t expect more, but I’ve always liked your company,” Allen said, and I was once again proud of him for how he was handling this despite the pain that I felt coming from him. He knew he couldn’t change Patrick’s mind; he could clearly see that. But he was being a man about it.
Patrick smiled at him, and it looked genuine. Allen offered his hand to him, which he took. They shook hands. “I’m sorry, Allen, and thanks for understanding. I do love you. I just... I need time.”
Allen believed him, but I didn’t. Not when his shadow is an Arraden. I had no idea what he was up to, but I didn’t believe it was something good. Even though he cried himself to sleep the night that scum “broke up” with him, Allen continued seeing him like nothing happened. I was getting tired of seeing that Arraden and being with him all the time, but there was nothing I could do about it. Allen liked Patrick. Allen was in love with Patrick. Patrick, a scum. A beautiful scum. Why couldn’t he look as brutish as his Arraden shadow so no one would like him? As long as he continued bringing around that Arraden, I could never believe him.
Patrick looked depressed one day. Naturally, Allen was concerned for him; he nearly waited on him hand and foot.
“I miss you,” Patrick said. Then, his mouth was immediately on Allen, who felt so happy at the moment. He had never even considered looking for a new boyfriend. Now he thought that he had been right all along; Patrick was coming back to him. I knew what Patrick missed. It wasn’t Allen. It was sex. I wish I knew what he really was up to, toying with Allen like this.
“Does this mean we’re back together?” Allen asked. He was lying on top of Patrick, slowly running his hand on the guy’s body. He had missed what Patrick only wanted; I could feel it. He looked up to Patrick’s face and kissed him. “Are we back together?”
Patrick shook his head in answer. “I’m not ready yet, Allen.”
“Okay,” he replied, and then kissed him passionately until they were both so into it they were rolling back and forth the bed, making another mess.
I found myself getting frustrated. How could he love someone that much? Why is he so kind?
Too much kindness is weakness.
I hoped he wouldn’t wait until Patrick crucified him. I was wrong, of course.
For a rich guy, Patrick didn’t seem to like birthday parties. Probably one of those things that Allen loved about him. He liked to be alone on his birthdays. He had said he liked to shop all by himself and buy everything he wanted. That’s why Allen decided to drop by his house after dinner and give him his gift. He had also bought him a small cake, complete with candle. Sweet guy, Allen is.
Allen wanted to surprise him, but he was the one who was surprised. He opened the door to Patrick’s room to find him cornholing some guy he knew from school. I felt him becoming aroused, seeing the scene in front of him, but it was replaced by a stabbing pain that I thought could kill me. Allen strode in with tears on his face and put the gift and the lighted cake on Patrick’s desk. “Happy birthday,” he said, before running out of the house. His emotions, his feelings, were killing me.
We ended up in his room, and Allen broke down immediately. I didn’t know what to do. Was there any way to save my bond to him? I felt poison being pumped into me through all of his negative emotions. I felt it burning a hole through my chest. But when I looked at Allen, I wanted to be him. I wanted to take his place. Whatever fear I had for losing my bond with him flew out the window, seeing Allen crying like this. He shouldn’t have been so hopeful, but what was I to do? I hadn’t been able to do anything, and now he’s hurting.
The darkness in his room allowed me to move, and I tried to wipe a tear. It went through my finger, and I hissed, nearly screamed, from the sting it brought to my whole being.
The silver cord that linked us together shimmered.
Until it was nothing.
I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe my bond to him was gone. Just like that. The hurting stopped. In fact, I wasn’t feeling anything anymore but my own emotions. My own. The hole I was feeling in my chest was my own. The pain, the loss, sadness, and despair, they were mine.
I had just lost the love of my life.
I watched an Arraden, one who had been desperately searching for a host, take my place. In the few seconds that he had been linked to Allen, he seemed to have gotten his health back. He gave me a smug glance as I knelt in front of Allen.
“I swear to you,” I said to the new shadow, “He won’t always be like this.”
I stood up and made my way out of the house. Allen wouldn’t fail me.
I made it as far as the playground before finally breaking down and weeping at my loss. I had never seen it coming. I had never thought that we would one day part. He was perfect. He was everything anyone could ever ask for. Now, I couldn’t be with him anymore. There was no use looking for a new host. I would die before I found a new one. Allen was the only one for me.
I was so absorbed in my own thoughts that I didn’t notice I had company until he sat next to me. The moment I tried to look at him, I immediately turned away. I noticed the silence all around, creation in reverent awe. He was Light. He was the only light that doesn’t affect a shadow, but it is said that to look at him would immediately kill you. Everything finally came to a head for me, and with that thought in my mind, I immediately turned my head to look at him. I already wanted to die. But I felt a hand holding my head, stopping me from my plan. Tears of frustration welled up in my eyes, and I started to cry again. “Why?” I asked him. “Why won’t you let me die?”
“You promised something back there.” His voice was like cold water on a burned skin, so comforting and refreshing. I wanted him to keep talking, keep talking so I could feel that peace again, but he didn’t say more.
“Promise? What promise?” I asked.
“You have forgotten already?” the Light mused aloud, and there was laughter in his voice. “I see everything, Dion. I have seen the way you look at him, the way you love him. But he is a man, and you are a shadow. You should have known that you would never be together as lovers. You should have known better than to fall in love with someone who isn’t your kind.”
I hung my head in shame, even though there was no condemnation in his voice.
“But,” he said, “There is always an exception to the rule. Do you really not remember the promise that you made to his new shadow?”
I closed my eyes. I remembered. “I swear to you, he won’t always be like this.”
“Keep your promise,” he said.
I was too distracted to respond. I felt a different sensation as the wind blew at me. I could actually feel it being sliced as it passed by me. By me. Not through me. I could feel it on my skin. The wind didn’t pass through me. I looked down at my body and felt a new batch of tears filling my eyes. The black that I saw wasn’t my skin anymore. I was dressed in a black tee shirt and black pants. I now had a body, a physical body. I was now a man. I cried for joy.
I turned to the Light to thank him, but I was alone. He was gone. I whispered my thanks to the wind instead.
“Keep your promise.” The words came back to me.
I will. Whatever happens, I will love Allen. I will make him the happiest man on earth.
Until the Light takes me back.
Many thanks to Colinian for helping me keep this story as neat as possible.