Guilt is an overpowering black hole. Even the tiniest splinter of guilt ends up getting lodged in inaccessible regions of the psyche. And it itches and stings at the same time.
Haven laughs at her own joke. Teague scratches at his head, almost instinctively. Haven slaps away his hand, eyes narrowed at him.
“What’s wrong?” she asks.
Teague tries to say it out loud, hesitates and then groans loudly, rubbing his face with his hands.
“Oh, God. I hate myself,” he says, his hands muffling his voice.
“What did you do?” she asks cautiously.
He sighs, unable to meet Haven’s eyes. “Haven… I-I…”
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic! Did you kill someone?” She suddenly gasps. “Oh, god. Did you kill a dog?” Her face twists into an expression of agony.
“NO!” he exclaims. “No. Well, not really.”
He stands up and starts pacing around the room. He tries out those relaxation techniques he read about so long ago. Fails.
“Teague?” Haven snaps him back to reality.
He comes clean. “I stepped on a dog’s tail,” he says and then wraps his arms around himself. “It was an accident! I didn’t see him. I was just walking and I-I… fuck.”
Haven sighs heavily, then pats him on the back. “You’ll get over it. It takes time. But you’ll be fine.”
Haven was wrong. He wasn’t fine. At night he dreams horrible dreams, dreams of a legion of hounds prancing toward his building, sprinting up the stairs and chewing through the front door of his apartment before feasting on his remains. He wakes up and checks if all his body parts are intact. He pictures the look on the dog’s face and his agonizing whimpers instantly after Teague committed the unthinkable. And he slips right back into that black hole.
– Rubani Kaur
Artwork Credit: Unknown