A work of fiction that imagines a meeting of the minds, in the mind…
by: Connie Millard
My inner demons recently met to discuss the possibility of a truce after years of struggling for control and constant skirmishes over who could inflict the most damage. Their barrage of blasts and blows, kicks and scrapes, relentless interruptions, and incessant overstepping were all futile attempts at soul domination. There was no order to their chaos, no progression of failure, no productive unproductiveness.
Anger, the most assertive demon (of course), assumed the lead in coordinating the meeting. He steered them into the white space of subconsciousness, all gleaming airiness and blank walls, replete with imposing furniture and bitter coffee. There was only one door and a ticking clock. A war room.
Shame slithered in, wrapping his stained tatters close to his doughy body, mumbling apologies for no apparent reason as he slunk into his chair. He lowered his gaze to avoid eye contact and murmured quiet prayers that no one would actually acknowledge his presence.
Anxiety grabbed a seat across the table (she always had a seat at the table), shivered and shrank and rubbed, rubbed, rubbed her fingers together, worrying them down to nubs. Barely able to endure silence, she nibbled her cracked lips, focused on the second hand on the clock beating in her ears, until she finally mewled, “Can we please get started?” to stop the relentless tick, tick, ticking.
Ego, oh poor Ego, sat there with her perfect posture and cloying perfume permeating the air. She half raised her primly manicured hand then lowered it, believing her ideas were a stupid, pitiful display of idiocy and thought maybe she shouldn’t even be there. She glanced at the exit sign, but she realized she had nowhere else to go.
As the meeting was about to start, Self-destruction, that bastard with his aura of smugness, poked his head into the room. Anxiety and Shame kept their heads low, hoping he didn’t notice them. He was an unpredictable bully, who loved to cause chaos for pure enjoyment. Luckily, he only laughed and said, “Oh, wrong meeting,” and strutted away.
At the head of the table (of course), Anger glowered, his clout palpable, hair aflame, and eyes boiling. Even in stillness, he seethed and quaked with malevolent energy. When he spoke, his voice crackled, “As you are aware, we are here to discuss a cessation to our ridiculous bickering. Let us divide the territories.” Each word ricocheted, threatening to shatter bones.
“Okay. I get the first shift. Are we done?” Impatience (Anger’s half-brother, though he’d deny it) yelled, barging into the room, late but not giving a shit. With his rat-a-tat speech, he barked a whirlwind of demands, interjected and inserted his opinion at every turn, a bulldozer through the slog.
Finally, after hours of painful negotiations, it was decided that Anger would deliver at least five volatile outbursts per day in a manner he deemed fit. Shame would immediately follow Anger and provide hours of embarrassment, remorse, and avoidance. Ego would take the lead with obsessive negative thoughts and supervise half the sleepless nights, with Anxiety relieving her with oversight of the remaining insomnia and providing fear and physical discomfort. Impatience would fill in as needed.
Satisfied with the terms, they nodded at each other and rose from the table.
As the demons started to exit, Self-Destruction sauntered back in with a satisfied grin and tossed a hand grenade that blew up the whole damn deal. There was no agreement, no détente, just eternal internal struggles.
Connie Millard is a working mom of three who once made it to final callbacks for the television show, Worst Cooks in America. After much perseverance, she now spends her time writing in between stirring risotto. She has an MFA from Lindenwood University and is an Associate Editor for the literary journal, Ran Off with the Star Bassoon. She is Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in, Ghost Parachute, Dark Recesses Press and Bending Genres, among others. You can find her at conniemillardwriter.com.