I was walking at night. I was alone with my dark thoughts.
"Would you like an apple?" asked my dark thoughts.
"No," I said.
"You've nothing to fear from an apple, my dear," said my dark thoughts.
"All the same. I don't want one."
My dark thoughts shrugged and bit into her apple. She was as tall as a doorway. Her skin was so black she was hard to distinguish from the night around her. Her skin always looked shiny and slick, like she was wet.
She had more limbs than a person should--six long slender arms that reminded me of insect legs because they were forever moving, flexing and reaching and rubbing their fingers together. One of them was feeding her the apple. She had a mouth that reached from cheekbone to cheekbone. It was filled with sharp teeth.
"You always seem to be eating," I said.
"I'm always hungry." She smiled. Her smile reminded me of a shark. I shivered. I would have been frightened of her if I hadn't known she was a part of me. She did frighten me, a little.
I sighed and sat down by a tree. Our walk had taken us to the edge of a forest. I could still see the civilized twinkle of my apartment complex in the distance, but here it was dark. My dark thoughts sat beside me, wrapping two pairs of her arms around her knees.
"Why so sad, pretty girl?" she asked. The concern in her voice was so sweet and perfect it felt false, but I got the feeling she was being as sincere as a many limbed monster with razor blade teeth could be.
"I have a comfortable apartment, filled with light and pillows," I said. "I have comfortable friends who I like enough to enjoy, but not enough to love. I have a comfortable job where no one ever asks too much of me."
"Poor thing," she said. She reached up with her long slender arms to pluck another apple from the tree above us.
I leaned on my knees and rubbed my scalp.
"Do you ever feel like you have absolutely no idea what you're doing?" I asked her.
"The last time I tried to play bridge," she said as she ate.
"I mean in a bigger way than that," I said. "Do you ever feel like you don't know what you're doing with your life?"
"All humans feel like that," she told me. "It's one of the great secrets you keep from each other."
"I have no idea what I'm doing," I said.
"You are breathing and sleeping and feeding yourself," my dark thoughts said. "Is that not enough?"
She reached up and took a handful of leaves from the tree. She started munching on them.
"I don't know," I said, leaning forward and staring at the grass. "Sometimes it is, and then sometimes I feel like I have to change right now or I'll explode. Sometimes I feel absolutely certain I should move to New York City, or Ireland, or Antarctica, but then sometimes I feel absolutely certain I have to stay perfectly still. Sometimes I feel like I need to create something magnificent before I can be a real person, and then I think I need to learn more before I can create that magnificent thing, but what if I waste all my time preparing and die before I begin?"
My dark thoughts spat out the crushed remains of a caterpillar that had been sitting on one of the leaves.
"You think too much," she said.
I sighed again and looked at her. "What should I do?"
"Follow your heart," she said.
She reached over into my chest and pulled out my heart. She held it for a moment, red and beating in her hand. Then she pinched the flesh of each aorta and pulled it out until each pinch of muscle became a tiny leg that twitched in time with the beating. She set it on the ground and it scampered off into the undergrowth.
I chased after it.