I was alone in the most frightening way. The black tangle. I didn‘t know what it could be, but I knew I needed it more than air. It was vital to me in the most personal way and I didn‘t know how to get it back.

I sent out a thought; I begged. Maybe it was a prayer. It felt prayerful. Come back, please. I waited a little. Please, I‘m sorry. I need you. I feel wrong now that you are away.

I sensed, distantly, a shrug and snippy: Deal with it. Cheeky. Very cheeky. But I felt better. I wasn‘t lonely. I was annoyed with my tangle, and that was much better.

Witch, I thought. That‘s when I knew the black tangle was most definitely female. From that point on, I thought of the black tangle as a she, but I didn’t yet know what she would mean to me.

The third time I had an encounter with the tangle, it was several weeks later. I started to doubt she existed at all. Her absence felt to me so constant and uninterrupted, I began to think of the whole thing as an episode, or phase. Rather than being a memory of something strangely unique and magical, she became a temporary, transient thing, something easily attributed to a surge of hormones or some other peculiarity of what I knew to be my young impressionable mind. Whatever else I thought of myself, it had been made clear to me that my mind was young-and-impressionable. These attributes were supposed to be inseparable, and when I think of myself and who I was, that feels quite accurate.

The tangle became only real in the same way a nightmare would be real, or growing pains. They happen, go away, and suddenly you‘re a little bit different but the growing pains become a sensation you can barely recall. 

The black tangle of sentient energy was like that. Maybe I just had a bizarre growing pain in my brain, and when I opened my eyes I could only see this weird mass. It could be like looking a little too directly at the sun, I reasoned. Whether you turn away or close your eyes, you see strange black blobs. Maybe it was like that.

That day, I remember I was upset, but I don‘t remember why. Just this overwhelming feeling of being ticked-off with absolutely everyone. I was in a lousy mood and flopped onto my bed hard, face first. I didn’t even care that I smacked my face into the pillow so hard that I saw stars. Whatever. The discomfort matched my mood. It was an actual physical problem rather than the more complicated problem of my bad mood, or whatever had inspired it.

I rolled over to my side and stared at nothing in particular. I waited for the sparkly stars to go away. They did, but they were replaced by something else.

It was a black fog that seemed to engulf my vision, so that I could only see a small circle of the reality around me. I thought I might be about to faint. 

Did I land on my face that hard? I hadn‘t thought so.

Wanting to breathe better, deeper, I decided to roll onto my back. I couldn‘t. Something was keeping my head to the side, and the stiffness stretched down the length of me, dictating a stillness of my entire body.

More forcefully, I tried again to move, just in any direction. My head and neck were stiff, and I had the strong impression that if I pushed too hard to move, I might genuinely hurt myself. 

Resignation. That idea washed over me and I realized it was the only option that made sense. At that moment, I had only two options: to not accept that I couldn‘t conscientiously move my body and freak out and possibly break my own neck, or to do the opposite of that, accept my situation and see what happens next. I chose to resign, to yield, and I just let go of every strain, every worry and doubt, every directive or plan or goal. I let go, and that’s when something came to me.

The strange fog in the periphery of my vision thickened, darkened, and my circle of vision, the little bit of my room I could still see, closed shut.

I closed my eyes then, wondering if maybe I was dying, and wondering if that tiny little bit of my childhood room would be the last thing I would ever see. With that depressing thought, I sighed heavily. Then I inhaled. I exhaled. I was breathing, still. So not dying, then.

If I‘m not dying, what is this? I thought the words and felt them distinctly in my mind. Maybe I was asking an angel or my innermost self; I don’t really know. But I got an answer.