Zack Vayda and the Black Beast

There once was a young boy, for whom life was colorless. He heard others talk about blue and green and red, and while he could decipher different hues, it all looked grey, or white, or black. For this young boy, life was also void of excitement. He could vaguely remember what it felt like from a long time ago, but it had been such a long time ago that it was like a fading memory.

The young boy also had a companion, the black beast. The black beast was somehow both solid and shadow simultaneously, without shape or edge. The beast had eyes though, eyes so black and deep the blackness of its body seemed less dark comparatively. And it was cold. The young boy could feel the cold emanating from the beast from several feet away.

Not that the beast was ever that far away from the boy. It followed him around everywhere. When he was with friends, it was there. When he was in class, it was there. When he was asleep, it was still there. No one but the boy could see the beast, and the worst part was the young boy couldn’t define the beast well enough to even describe his unwanted companion to anyone.

The young boy had tried everything to get rid of it. He tried to talk to it, he tried to throw things at it, he tried to get away from it by running away. Just as soon as he thought he had given it the slip, the black beast would be around the next corner waiting. It never spoke and it never made a sound, but it was always there.

After one particularly bad day, the young boy threw himself on his bed and sat there, feeling absolutely empty. Somehow, feeling nothing was worse than feeling bad. “This can’t be how everyone lives,” he said aloud to himself. “There has to be more.” With this new thought, his eyes wandered to the black beast in the corner, bigger than ever, staring at the boy. On a whim, the boy grabbed his desk chair, wheeled it in front of the beast, sat down and stared right back. For the first time, he didn’t want to fight the beast, he simply wanted to understand. He stared into the two black pools, searching their depths for an answer. Within a few minutes he felt his own eyes begin to water. Before long, and for no reason, the young boy burst into tears. He sobbed and sobbed, though he didn’t know why. It was a full, deep cry, so intense he barely remembered falling asleep.

The first thing he saw when he woke up was the tree outside his window. The branches were moving in the breeze and the sun was glancing through, but the only thing the young boy noticed was the leaves. They were green. Some leaves were a cool, dark green, while others were vibrant green, nearly neon. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen!

Then the young boy did something he had never done before. He pulled out the dusty journal he had never written in, grabbed a pen and began to write. He didn’t even notice what it was he was writing, he just enjoyed the way it felt.

That night he sat back down in front of the black beast, again looking into its eyes. While the eyes were as black and deep as ever, the boy couldn’t help but wonder if the beast looked smaller than usual.

Over the next few weeks the young boy tried something different every day, be it writing, exercising, learning something new or something else entirely. If it made him feel good, then he made sure to try it again a different day. Every night the boy would sit down with the beast, who also seemed to be changing. It looked to be getting smaller, and noticeably so. Every day the boy tried something new and every night he sat down with the black beast, and every day colors were brighter, the beast was smaller, and the young boy felt more…himself.

On one particularly beautiful morning, the young boy woke up and looked around for the black beast, only to find it wasn’t there. In its place however, was a black dog. At first the young boy wondered how a dog found its way into his bedroom, but then he noticed the dog’s eyes.

They were black and deep.

But this black was different. It wasn’t sinister or evil. It was inviting, almost as if it were asking for a companion. The young boy leapt off the bed, got on his knees and hugged the black dog. He felt his eyes well up, but he knew these tears were different from that night several weeks ago.

He remembered how he used to wish the black beast was gone from his life. But now he knew that was impossible. The black beast was part of him, and he was a better person because of it.

When the young boy finally got up to begin his day, he looked back at the black dog, sitting beside his bed. The young boy smiled at the back dog and motioned for it to join his side.

To walk with him.

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