Vrubel’s Demon

Illustrated by Cynthia Lin

“Who is the demon?” you ask me. I’ll tell you.
The demon is someone whom you’ll never know.
You aren’t as strange as I am—nor as crazy—and you’ll never stray to the places I go.

The demon is someone who never stays constant.
He’s rapidly changing in image and size.
Whatever I need on the spur of the moment requires he alter his hair, clothes, and eyes.

A bit about me first (you likely don’t know me), I live all alone deep inside of my head.
I like to take long walks and look up at buildings and try not to think about God and the dead.
But when I grow tired from these hours of quiet, from talking to gargoyles, statues, and such, 
that’s when I summon the demon, for truly, no human can live for a week without touch.

A demon, you see, is a kind of long story that feeds on and takes anything you can give.
A demon is something that plagues you incessantly, although without it you simply can’t live.

This explanation seems highly inadequate and inarticulate, don’t you agree?
It’s hard to describe something phantasmagorical, something belonging uniquely to me.

I first made a demon when I was a schoolgirl because I was lonely and needed a friend.
I spent all my classes enveloped in fantasy, far from the classroom for hours on end.

This place was a kingdom where rain would fall endlessly, houses would travel, and shadows would creep.
Enclosed in the heart of a wood was a labyrinth, and inside the monster curled up and asleep.
The kingdom would scream for me, call for me, beckon, no matter the hour of nighttime or day.
I’d try to distract myself, try to stay present, but somehow I never could stay far away.

So when I arrived then the monster would waken.
He’d shake out the feathers which grew from his back.
While crossing a street paved with stars, I would suddenly sense him above bearing down to attack.
Before I could scream I’d be swept off the pavement and wrapped up in arms that shone dark like the night.
His hair in my fingers was thick and all tangled, his eyes—close to mine—unexpectedly bright.

And this is the joy and the pain of the demon, the fact that it all seems impossibly real.
A kind of sensation beyond all sensation; a feeling you’ve felt but you never can feel.


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