Seeing the devil.

What begins to happen when you see the devil in that seat is strange. People will mock, but you know he’s the devil. You know from the way a small lock of hair falls out of place. You know from the acidic bile he spreads across the earth. You know from the quiet, white death in his eyes. You have seen it before. On top of that, you know your history.

The switch flips, and though the circumference of empathy in your mind matches that of the earth, the circumference of empathy in your heart becomes very small. The focus of it only large enough to fit around two small humans, humans not of your body, but most certainly of your flesh.

Your mind says to fight, so you do. You stand your ground. The letters, the calls, the streets. Attempts at reasonable arguments. Trying to win hearts and minds. You’re fighting for all, not just your¬†own. Your mind grasps for some thread of optimism.

Your heart no longer cares about optimism. It turns instantaneously and completely to flight. Leave, run, don’t let anything get in the way. Get them to safety. Panicked, cyclical thinking about how, where, calculating resources, steps to prepare. Can’t sleep, need to sleep. The nighttime is worse. You regret every moment you didn’t save, every moment you weren’t getting stronger. You gain a deeply flexible morality. You know you can do anything to save them. It is worse when you see them, but you never want to let them out of your sight, out of your arms.

You invoke God, the gods, science, poetry, anything to just make it all stop.

In the waking hours you straddle a line. On one side you are fighting, struggling to keep your empathy wide and looking for ways to banish the devil. On the other side, you sit very still, staying vigilant and attempting to calculate how to recognize the moment to run.