Last night my regret monster came out again. He’s only a couple of inches tall and not intimidating in any way. He is, in fact, exactly like a glow-in-the-dark bookworm I had as a child. He wears an old-fashioned nightcap, a pyjama top, and glows a soft but repulsive green. The only difference between the regret monster and my old bookworm is that, while the bookworm smiled at me, the monster bears a more solemn look. It clenches its little wormy jaw and bears a squidgy little frown that makes it look concerned and reproving most of the time. I’m not sure where he lives but I think it might be in my socks because that’s where I smell him sometimes, all stale and musty.
I keep expecting it to bump into my shame demon but it never does. Mostly the shame demon is about during the day. He’s flat, like a piece of paper and lives in my pocket. I know he lives in there because sometimes I pull my hand out of my pocket and it starts shaking like crazy and I know the shame demon’s done something to it.
I don’t really want to tell you about my worry fiend, but we’re on the subject so I guess I should. I’ve never seen what he looks like but I know he travels around my body and hides under my skin. Sometimes I feel him on my head, pushing my hair follicles around and making me tingle. I think he is made of ice.
I do want to get rid of them, of course.
The difficult thing would be getting them all at the same time. It would be practically impossible to pick them off one by one. The others would know something was up and hide.
Yes, it would be difficult. But I have thought of a plan.
To start with, I would try to collect them all on my foot. I know the regret monster would like that with his sock fetish, and I’m quite sure the worry fiend would be amenable. The shame demon would be tough to convince, but let’s just assume for a moment that I can think of a way to lure him down there. I would wait until they are all gathered together, perched on top of and in between my toes, and deep in conversation about the many shameful and regrettable acts that I worry about. And then, with one decisive act – chop! I would sever my foot with an axe or a meat cleaver or something. I would hack it off just above the ankle to make sure I got all of them and then throw my demon-strewn appendage onto a fire and listen to them burn and fizz and crackle and scream and die. Or, perhaps even better, I could do it over a river so they drown and get dragged far far away by the current, and I wouldn’t even have to clean up afterwards.
Yes, I could do that. I do long to do something like that. To be unburdened of them. If only for a short, blissful, anxiety-free time.
But I won’t.
It’s not that I don’t think I could live without a foot. I’m confident I would survive. After all, it can’t be much worse than losing my left arm, which I lopped off some years ago in an attempt to get rid of the devil on my shoulder. No, I know I would survive. It is simply that I know they will find their way back. Somehow. Some day. I know that they always find their way back.