When I was younger, I would wake up on summer mornings to the smell of coffee and the sound of the TV. It may not sound like much, but every day, that’s what I would listen for, and if they were missing, there was something very wrong.

When I wake up now, the TV is silent, and the coffee pot stands unused. I’m the one, now, in my teenage years, who rises and puts the grounds in the pot. I add the water. I press start. I turn on the TV. And then I sit, and remember how it was before I grew up.

My sister and I would jump out of bed on Saturdays and rush downstairs at 7 am. We would turn the TV on and watch cartoons until noon, then we would throw on some clothes and walk down the street to our friend’s house, dragging him out of bed and out into the sunshine.

Saturday now, I sit up groggily at 7 am and thump downstairs. I grab some coffee, if any is ready, and my laptop, and head upstairs again. I might type a little, or watch something, but most of the time I surf the web. My sister and parents watch TV, or read, but I’ve fallen prey to the internet, and I like it that way.

You see, what they don’t understand is how close I am to the breaking point.

People look at me, and they see a perfectly regular, straight A student. What they don’t see is the sheer willpower and thought behind every decision I make. In that sense, I’m completely different. The inner battle within me every day sets my heart to shaking, the willpower I use to push down my dark half is enormous.

But it wasn’t enough.

Cause now I can feel my dark half chewing away inside of me. The half of me who would kill anything and everything without a hint of hesitation is free. And I don’t know what I’ll do. I have to stop it. Stop HER, because she is female. I have to stop her.

But it’s never enough.

No matter how many tests I pass with flying colors, no matter how many essays I write, I will never be a person recognized for their achievements. I’ll always be the background, always doomed to fall behind others. No matter how much they tell me to be myself, I know that it won’t help, because I’ve been myself, and no one sees how hard you try. No one sees your pain. No one sees how every day you take one more step towards the edge.

No one sees that. All they see are the people who do MORE. The people who do EVERYTHING. I’m not athletic, I’m not a, “people person” I have social issues, I can’t always be the person who belongs to every club in the school.

I can’t do that’s what they don’t understand. And all the people who can get pretty awards, and I’m stuck in the crowd, holding a flimsy piece of paper that announces I have a 4.0 GPA.

You’d think we would get recognized somehow. “These people try their hardest and do amazing work!” No, that award goes to the kids who have low grades, the ones who need tutoring. That’s simply how it is. There’s nothing I can do about it.

Or maybe there is.

That’s the thought that started it all.

Maybe I can do something about it.

Maybe I don’t have to stay this way.

Maybe I can make them understand.

That was the thought that started it all.

I knew I was plenty smart, that I had everything I needed. So I began to search the internet, looking for something, anything, that could help me.

And I found it.

A simple post of a forum. A largely-ignored post that sent chills down my spine. But, being me, I read it. All of it. This was exactly what I had been searching for. And now I knew what I had to do.

I prepared everything that night. A bowl of water, chalk, candles, a mirror, and a small knife. I carefully checked and double checked. It was all here, everything I needed.

That night, I waited for my parents to go to sleep, and then I slipped downstairs into the basement.The concrete room was damp and smelled of earth. It was dark, with no windows and decent accustics.

I stood the mirror in the center of the room, carefully etching a circle around it with the chalk. I followed the forum's instructions to the letter, making certain every line was perfect. When the strange design was complete, I cast aside the chalk.

I carefully set the bowl of water before the mirror and sat next to it. I took the small knife and, ignoring my own pain, pricked the end of each of my fingers. I held my hand out over the bowl, Blood dripped slowly into it.

I spoke the words. The words you never say. And I waited. 

She formed in front of me in the mirror, warping my own reflection. The girl with tangled dark hair, bloody white clothes and piercing red eyes. She just stared at me for a moment, and I stared at her, as I had been instructed.

Slowly, she pulled her hand back from the reflected bowl, studying her fingers.

I saw her blood was black.

Smiling a dark smile, she slowly raised her hand, and licked the blood off her fingertips. Her eyes remained fastened on me.

I just sat there. I froze. I didn't know what to do. This was crazy, what was I doing? Why had I done this? 

I closed my hand on the drops of blood, forming a fist, with my other hand, I picked up the knife, pointing it at the mirror. 

I performed a flicking motion, and red blood spattered the mirror. 

Her mouth opened in a silent scream, dark rows of yellow teeth revealed. 

I spoke the words you're never supposed to say, and pressed the knife against the mirror. 

She drew away from the knife, still silently wailing. Then suddenly vanished, and it was my own face staring back at me. 

And that was that. It was over. Maybe it had actually worked. Maybe they would understand now. That's what I thought.

But I underestimated her. The one who was inside of me, I underestimated her. She got out, she wriggled free. As soon as I summoned, she was loose. I couldn’t stop her. I couldn’t control her. I never had a chance.

And she killed my cat.

I must have gone to bed and fallen asleep, because when I woke up, I had a butcher knife, and my little striped cat was dead on the floor. Both her paws were cut off, and her stomach was slashed open.

She must have died in pain.

I cried for a long time, telling her that this was enough. She had to leave me alone. I thought she listened. I thought It was over. but it wasn't.

My parents found the little grave. I told them she had died in her sleep. They didn’t need to know. I thought I could protect myself from her. I thought I could suppress her again.

I went to sleep that night repeating to myself again and again, don’t let her out, don’t let her out, as silent tears streamed down my face. My cat was dead. The only creature I loved in the entire world was dead. But I couldn’t let my guard down, I had to stay strong.

Don’t let her out. Don’t let her out.

I fell asleep.

At 3:40 am, a time I could always distinguish for whatever reason, I returned to my senses. I was standing in the middle of my room, holding my pocket knife, with blood dripping from the wall in front of me.

The blood shaped the words, “let me out.” They were scrawled over and over again, covering my entire room.

I looked down, unable to stand the sight.

The first knuckle of my right index finger was missing. I screamed. My parents ran upstairs, they called an ambulance, then the police.

They bandaged my finger and scrubbed my room clean. They took care of every detail, but found nothing but my own DNA and fingerprints.

I told my parents to call a priest, an exorcist, something, anything. Just call someone who knew about spirits.

They called a priest from the nearest church without question. Even people like them knew when to admit the impossible was happening.

He took one look around the house, and said that something wasn’t right. I told him I would do anything he wanted, cleansing, baptizing, anything. It had killed my cat, I said, it had cut my finger off.

He said he couldn’t do anything yet. He said he needed one more day to get everything in order. We agreed.

But that night, I fought to stay awake, but I couldn’t.

At 3:40 am exactly, I woke up, holding a butcher knife, standing over my family’s bodies. I tried everything I could, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t even blink. I could only stare down at them.

Then, against my will, I looked up, and saw another me, standing on the other side of their bodies. She looked at me, I looked at her. Then she smiled, and I saw the blood in her mouth, I saw her long sharp tongue, I saw her red eyes.

I saw my dark half, standing across from me.

I saw the true me.

I saw myself.

She looked at me and smiled, and in a voice that painted bloody words in the air, she said, “You let me out.”

Then she raised her arm holding the butcher knife. My body mirrored her movements against my will.

She pointed the butcher knife at her own chest. I followed the movement to the centimeter.

Then, with not so much as a cry, she thrust the knife into her own chest.

There was a burst of pain, and the lights went off. I felt myself dying. I could do nothing as my heart emptied my own body of blood.

“I let her out.”