In His Shadow
By: Lallie Napier

He carries a weight on tired shoulders.
Trudges through town every day to a place
his spirit is both celebrated and
condemned. His worth unfairly judged
by hypocritical, jaded beings.
Who, rather than help him fly, would clip his
wings. I watch him buckle, unable to
take the load or even help. Every day
his burden bows his frame. His youth slowly
oozing out; ground like so many coffee
beans. Fired and smoked until all that is
left is a blackened, bitter brew. The grit
sticks to his soul, tainting his joy. Killing
his fire; already sputtering as the
darkness falls. He hides in a digital
prison. Cocooned in a shroud of hate and
misery. Kicking, clawing, crawling his
way through every day. Terrified someone
might see the truth, his truth and force the light.
Rape him of the blackened husk he's come to
need. To possess. To depend on for his
happiness? Safety? No, his survival.
The pit is too deep, he struggles and falls
adding layer upon layer of scars
and bruises. Pain upon pain upon ache
upon hurt. Begging the torture to stop.
Secretly needing it to know life. To
feel anything at all. To know he is
still capable of feeling in his cold,
dark, personal hell. A length of rope is
tantalizing. The cool steel razor is
mesmerizing. He's thinking about it.

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