You’re full of stars and no one told you that.
There’s something under his skin. It’s pale and thin, withered from the outside and stretched out. It lingers here and there, as though reluctant to ever move. He thinks that it’s hiding from something. He knows what but the word never comes to him. They’re a nameless thing— a creature that watches and waits and bites down around your neck, their teeth slipping against your bloodied skin as your heartbeat races and then slows to nothing.
He waits for it to come, sometimes. He sits alone in the open with a book or a phone or with nothing, letting it watch him. They never come, but he catches glimpses. White figures with white children and black gaping maws of stars.
The medication didn’t help. The doctors said he was resistant every time they put together a new concoction. Sometimes they took him in when it got bad— when the figures came a little too close, and the stars were a bit too bright. He’d see familiar faces in the white rooms and, after a while, he became familiar too.
None of them knew the figures he’d speak about. But they didn’t mind. Some nodded; others looked sympathetic. Others looked afraid, and he tried to not talk about the stars around them.
It was over a year before the figures stopped coming. They faded into the background, their white forms painted over with the colours around him. The stars left, and he couldn’t recall their shapes or their touch.
His mother was relieved. So was he, after a while.
He stopped the medication and nothing happened. Not until Solomon, when his skin began to prickle and his limbs shook as the things under his skin slipped against his muscles, brushing at nerves and snapping at veins. He bruised at their touch, the purple tint stretching across his skin and darkening to an almost familiar black.
It was in the mountains that he saw a pair. They were tall and white and thin, bright against the gray and their maws open wide. He stopped on the beach, the thing under his skin lurching as he staggered away from them.
They weren’t supposed to be back.
Isn’t it time to wake up?
There are letters— hundreds of them by now, all saved on his phone in a small folder. It’s locked and encrypted and tightly packed away from prying eyes. Each word is a star and each file is a galaxy. His shaking hands hurt as he types pictures of what’s inside.
Sometimes he thinks of sending them. When the sounds in his ears are deafening and warm, when the air is choked, when the light is dark and the entire world hangs below him, he almost does. But a sharp sting always breaks through, and the moment is gone and the figures have left.
All that’s left is an ever-growing hum.