I found the tiniest of things lying on the pavement as I walked past. It was so tiny that I almost never saw it. I almost stepped on it, but I saw it just in time. I picked it up and held it in my hand and felt it tremble. It was so frail I could have crushed it in an instant. I could have made an end of it then and there. But instead, I lifted it up and slipped it into my pocket where it made little, chirping noises. When I got home, I put it in a box lined with cotton wool and pushed the lid over. I could hear it singing softly to itself. That night, I turned off the light; I lifted the lid and looked in. The little thing was still alive. I reached in and stroked it gently. Two dark eyes stared back at me. From a small bottle, I filled a dropper with inky blackness and let it drip, drip, drip into the tiny thing’s mouth. I picked it up and settled it in close to my chest. I could feel my own heart beating slow while the tiny thing’s pulse raced. I held it close all night and kept it warm.
In the morning the tiny thing was still alive. I lifted it gently and put it back in the box where it would be safe from sunlight and brightness. I hoped it would still be alive when I got home.
After work I took a cab home, and when I opened the door, I could hear it calling to me, and so I pulled the curtains close and lifted the box from under the bed. It was waiting for me and opened its mouth demanding to be fed.
For the first few days, drops of darkness were all that it needed, but as it grew, it needed more solid food. I chipped little spikes of resentment into bite sized pieces and used a pair of hair tweezers to feed the thing. Each morsel was devoured with relish and delight, and then it demanded more and more.
It continued to grow, and I started to measure it with a sewing tape. Some days it would grow by almost an inch. Soon it would be too big to stay in the shoebox during the day. I cleaned out my cupboard and made a space beneath my hanging shirts and suits where it could nestle during the day away from any danger. At night it would curl up on my bed like the black dog. I could feel its warm breath on my face and the weight of it growing heavier and heavier on my chest. It was all so comforting.
It was hungrier than ever. Now it gulped down whole pieces of anger that I held up, and, when it sat to attention, I would drop the anger down for it to snap and tear. It loved to get its teething into tough, hard anger. It preferred cold anger, but would happily eat it hot if that was all I had to give it. After it had fed, it would lie down and sleep while I sang to it gently. Music seemed to calm the thing, but thankfully my voice is harsh and tuneless. Now it was too big to measure with a tape. I made it sit by the door frame and marked its height with charcoal. Each day the marks were higher and higher. I was so proud of the thing. I could hardly believe what I had done. At nights I would sit and watch as it basked in the darkness. It would roll over me in waves and wrap itself around me in cool, smooth coils. I took all my anger and all my resentment and gave it to the thing.
“How beautiful you are,” I whispered.
It was my most valued possession. If I could, I would have kept it with me always. When I left during the day, I worried about it. I longed to get back to it and to be with it. Sometimes, for a treat, I would bring home hate and put it down on the floor wrapped in newspaper, raw and bloodied for it to eat. It would come and sniff the hate, at first unsure then it would take the hate in its mouth and throw back its head a swallow the hate down whole.
The hate I bought was strong and highly spiced. I could see that the thing’s coat became thick
and luscious with bristling resentment. I buried my finger in the things coat, twisting it into thick ropes.
“Stay with me forever,” I whispered. I pulled the dark thing to me and embraced it, and in return it looked at me with its dark eyes as if to say. “Yes, forever.”
Once, someone came back to the flat with me. It hid behind the couch while we sat talking. After my visitor had left, it wouldn’t come out until I fed it with a whole pile of rage. It took me days and days to find enough rage. I had to sit at street corners and collect as much discard anger as I could find, but even that was tainted with regret that I had to pick out. I never let anyone else into where I lived after that. From now on it would be just me and the thing. That’s the way I wanted my life to be; just the two of us. And it felt the same way too.
Now it was fully grown it could have left at any time. It could have slipped out into the night while I slept but it never. It stayed with me because we belonged together; me, the thing, darkness, envy, hate, rage, resentment. There was no room for anyone or anything else in my life. Finally, it had grown big enough to consume me completely. Now we were always together. It held me in the palm of its hand, and if it wanted, it could have crushed me in an instant.