We, the Dark

March 2024 — Aden Albert
We, the Dark

We stir when they come to this place.

But only stir.

The two of them. “Zoe,” and “Elijah.”

Anxious, afraid in the way the grown are anxious, and afraid.

Once, or maybe twice, she will grasp his arm in the middle of the night and ask if he has heard what she believes she has heard.

We wait, to see if it is worth the effort, to climb the wall. To slide down the hallway floor. To stand in the four corners.

“Z,” he will say, “’s nothing,” and he will roll over to hold her, and she will fall asleep again, comforted.

We will be glad we did not waste the effort.

We wake, when they give this room a name.

“Wednesday’s room.”

We stretch, we find ourselves free. We breathe into the available cracks and corners, and nowhere denies us, nowhere has the strength to keep us out. Not when they sleep.

When this place is empty—when they are away—we grow tired again, and it is… unworthwhile, to keep ourselves awake.

As Zoe grows rounder, we find our shapes firmer in the night. Our form given more form. Elijah remains with eyes open next to her, listens to her breathe. We walk down the hall. Timed to clock sounds, he dares to inhale, small as he can stand, but we hear him any how. We enter the room and we settle above him on top of the headboard and we watch him all night. We watch him, as he waits for something—anything—bad to happen, because when things are this beautiful, surely, something bad is just about to happen.

We wake, and they are three.

This little one—“Wednesday”—confusion, warmth, we make no sense of, of what cannot be called even impressions, just raw signals

Zoe, and Elijah.

We are ourselves, and we—

—we do what we cannot escape.

When the little one sleeps, when she is too quiet or when she is not, or when either of the grown has slept or when they have not, or when they remember or when they do not, they rush to her side and bend down upon her to listen, to reassure themselves.

We are there.

We recognize, as we have before

(we have slept, and we have awakened, and this has happened and will happen)

Ourselves have changed. For the grown we may appear in the corners and we may walk the hall and we may be a sound heard or unheard. But this is not where we live, for them.

Wednesday grows.

We admit to… curiosity.

She changes with every night. Not always sleeping, but growing, expanding. The improcessible chaos settling. The aphantasia of chemical and vascular flesh shifting. Arrangements appear. Harmonies, gestalts, paragraphs.


As the void gains form, so do we.

Not long after her third birthday, Wednesday becomes afraid of squirrels.

Elijah lays her in her bed. She holds on to the rails. They are supposed to keep her safe. They prevent her from leaving when she sees what she does not want to see. He turns off the light, and the night light turns on, from its place in the corner, and it flickers, like it always does.

We are ourselves.

Tonight we are a monstrous thing of matted fur, enormous teeth, painted against the wall and moving with each twitch of the night light. We feel ourselves given such contour we could almost become, and it has been a very long time since we felt so…


Wednesday screams.

Zoe bursts in. Elijah behind her. The light comes on. We return to where we are. From the shadows, the corners, the slivers behind louvered doors, we watch them pick her up, hold her. Carry her out.

This is what we are.

We do what we cannot escape.

When she is four, Wednesday comes home from day care with a fear of dinosaurs.

We stretch into the barest shape of long neck and enormous body with counterbalanced tail before she runs from the room.

Before lights out, after story time, Elijah holds her.

Zoe peeks around the door frame.

We remain in the corners of the ceiling. Roosting bats.

“We have something for you,” Zoe says.

Wednesday turns an eye, but does not lift her head from Elijah’s chest.

Zoe brings it around the door frame.


We swirl from the corners of the ceiling to the shadows under the bed. We must look closer.

It is a stuffed bear, with light blue fur, with button eyes. It is almost the size of Wednesday herself. We do not need to move to know she has lifted herself up to reach for the bear, she has grasped it, hugged it tight against her chest.

To know Elijah and Zoe have wrapped her in an embrace.

Elijah says, “He’s a special bear. I had one just like it as a kid, and my bear kept me safe all night.”

We curl under the bed frame.

When they leave, when they turn out the light, we stretch ourselves to our free limits. We scale the walls. We let Wednesday choose our shape—

—and the blue bear shines against us. Her arms around its chest, it faces us with its button eyes.

We come against it with all we have.

It stands before us with its little light.

Wednesday sleeps.

She names him, and his light takes shape. When she holds him to her chest, when she breathes into his fur and feels her warmth reflected. When she says, “Good night, Clark,” before the lights turn off. When his light shines, as we gather ourselves from the corners, from the ceiling, from beneath the bed.

The nights and the days become themselves.


We become ourselves, as well. We change shape, too.

Wednesday grows taller. Her hair grows longer, her eyes darker. In her arms, Clark becomes smaller, his stuffing thinner. But she loves him, just the same.


Wednesday is eight.

No longer afraid of the dark.

In the deepest wrinkles of the night, we—we, ourselves, and the stuffed bear—watch the quiet pass, as she breathes, as she dreams.

The little blue bear is a small thing beside her. Worse for wear, but better for having been loved.


…we are tired, as we recede.

It is this year—it is maybe this year, maybe a year later—Wednesday does not sleep here, in her room. The night passes and she is somewhere else.

Clark is somewhere else.

We feel it around the rest of this place, in the blood of the grown, the fizzing uncertainties. We prowl the corners when we can. We cannot sleep. We do not feel, we, we do not…

We cannot sleep without her. Or Clark.

We do not know what this is. But there is an incompleteness in ourselves.

We do not like it.

There is a noise. Zoe and Elijah speak in short tones. “I’ll get her,” Elijah says. Zoe cries. Elijah drives a fist into a doorframe. We find ourselves sharpening. We grow vertices along our lines. We form teeth.

We think about prowling from her room but we cannot leave.

When Elijah returns, Wednesday is with him. But she does not come to her room. We hear her. From further away, from beside the grown. Our outlines roil. We are changing.

We do not like it.

Elijah brings Clark to the bedroom. The blue bear is torn, its left arm hanging by threads, stuffing pulled through. Its light is still there. Its light wavers through the tears she has poured over it.

Into the furthest journeys, Zoe brings Wednesday to her room. Wednesday remains behind her. We are everywhere. We paint every surface in a way we have not, since Wednesday’s beginning. But we are not ourselves.

We are changing.

We recognize the differences. We recognize becoming.

“Veronica only invited me,” Wednesday cries, “to—to hurt me—”

“Oh, honey,” Zoe says.

When she looks to the shadows of her bedroom, Wednesday no longer sees giant squirrels or dinosaurs or monsters or clowns, no longer shrinks from jack-o-lanterns or long-eared green figures with kitchen-knife teeth.

“Clark,” Wednesday cries.

We are changing. We are growing into something—into some one.Ourselves becoming a person, flesh and hair and sneer.

We loom in the low night light, and she cries. Clark, behind his erupted stuffing and his torn stitches, his light is not strong enough to keep us away.

We are—

—becoming what we cannot escape.

We have only a little time. Only a little strength.

We wrench ourselves back into what we are. What we want to be.

Wednesday cannot hear us. In the other room, she does not sleep. In the hallway, Elijah and Zoe whisper, and snap, and blame. They call and threaten.

They cannot hear us. But we say goodbye.

Clark is on the empty bed. Zoe has promised to fix him. But she cannot fix that he has been made so small.

We say goodbye.

…we choose to believe he will miss us, as we will miss him.

The world opens to us, all its shadows, its pain and loneliness. We map our travel by our own contorting shape. We move in the quivers of darkness marked between headlights, street lamps, knives of light spilled from open windows. We are not afraid. Above us the vastest dark.

We find where we must be. Our shape, and hers, they are the same. This is right.

No place is sealed from us.

We settle in the high corners. We drip down the walls, behind the bookcases and along the stairs. Her door is closed.

But no place is safe from us.

She sleeps in her own bed. With thick covers pulled up tight to her chin.

We draw ourselves up. We give ourselves form, firmness. This is new and this is welcome. We walk—on feet, on claws, on hooves—we part the air and we whisper as silent cloud and she tosses in her sleep.

We stand at the foot of her bed and cast ourselves across it. We rear over her from the headboard and look down on her from the ceiling. We hang from the corners of the room, we perch on the edges of the nightstand. We rot her dream and race her heart.

We brush her hair from her ear with a faint breeze.

Her eyes open.

She does not move. She cannot move. She is paralyzed, in the night terror.

She sees us.

We lean to her ear. We whisper—we speak—our voice, never heard, and older than fire.

We spread our wings, our talons, our arms, our tentacles. We open our mouths, our multifaceted eyes.

We say, “If only.”

“You had something.”

“To protect you.”

the end.

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