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Three. Four. Five. I like five; it feels complete. Okay, one more time. Six…

Seven. Done.

"How long does it take to get a glass of water?" my husband calls from the living room.

"Sorry, I'm coming." I resist the urge to rinse the glass a few more times. Cleanliness is not a factor—it's the numbers. The completion. The habit. I take a sip of my water and force myself to stop asking if I should just run the water one more time.

I join Sam in the living room and sit in my usual spot: the center recliner. He always lies on the couch to watch TV. It works.

He hits the play button, and we watch ten minutes of reality before the demon sneaks into my mind again. This time I see fire. It sparks from the dryer, blisters the walls, and rushes tsunami-like towards my son's room. It licks at my daughter's curtains.

I see them lying in their beds, unaware of the destruction. I see walls of flame keeping me from them.

"I have to go to the bathroom," I say. Sam pauses the show. The beast in my head laughs with intense pleasure.

I disappear down the hallway, relieved I smell no smoke. I walk back to my son's room first and peek in the door: he lies peacefully on the bed.

The demon points at him, and I follow his bat-like finger: My son lies with his hand against the wall. I know there's an outlet there.

Fear roars in my face; it grips my brain. I tiptoe forward, holding my breath, washed in terror.

I see him, turned over, face blue, finger in the outlet.

I get down on one knee and look across his body. I squint in the darkness. His chest rises and falls underneath the blanket that acts like a barometer I use to track the rhythm of his breaths.

Stepping back, I shut the door with a quiet click and breathe. I go to the bathroom and flush the toilet. I run the water. I count to three. Three is a complete number.

Back down the hallway, I check my daughter. She turns over when the light hits her face and sighs in her sleep. I summon a smile for her and close her door.

"That was a long bathroom break."

"Yeah, I checked on the kids while I was back there."

"Ah. All right, let's finish the show."

Fifteen minutes later, I hear a noise. "Did you hear that?"

"No."

"It was a click or something." Like a window opening, my companion suggests. I see my daughter, asleep in her room, and a man climbing in the window. A shadow creeps to her little body, grabs her, stifles her and slips back out. Later I'll find the room empty, the window open.

I try fighting the urge. I spew logic at myself. I would hear her, no one could get in here that quietly. Just as quickly, the demon takes over: If you don't check...

Sam sighs. "Do you want to go check?"

"Yes."

I check the forecast in my son's room: barometer's steady. I check my daughter's room: she fidgets.

"They're fine, you know."

"I know." I don't know. I never know. All day the demon sits on my shoulder; crawls around in my brain; whispers in my ears. He spans all media: pictures, sounds, and videos play on loops in my head. Each different, but forever ending the same way:

Me, alive, my arms empty as I swing from the last shred of sanity I have left, carried away by a balloon of fear.

"Well, it's only got five minutes. Let's watch it and go to bed."

"Okay." The demon looks at me from the surface of my glass. The ice in my water has melted, and I don't drink water without ice. I tuck my hands into my lap and watch the screen.

Reality ends. We chat about the drama, the successes, and the failures. We go to the bathroom. Sam goes to bed.

The shadow on my shoulder and I check on my son's barometer and my daughter's fitful sleep.

I go back to the living room windows. They're sealed. I place my first two fingers around the door lock. It's vertical, but it's not complete. I do it again. Two. Three. Four. Five. I need to feel the metal between them. Eventually I force myself away, tapping my finger on my forehead. It gives me a focus.

I check the stove. The coffee pot. The toaster. I check the stove again.

My daughter keeps turning; my son keeps breathing.

I climb into bed, and my husband's already asleep. My demon swings on my ear lobe like a kid on monkey bars. Did you check the stove?

Yes.

You could have missed it. You could have missed the light on. I see fire again. Walls of flame. Beds turned to ash.

If you don't check…

The rest is always implied: he doesn't say it and neither do I, but we both know how it ends.

…it will be your fault.
HOLY CRAP! Thank you for the DD, guys! This is such a personal piece for me, I'm so glad it resonated with others, too. Thank you so much! :blush: :boogie:

----------------
For *Flash-Fic-Month

I had a hard time coming up with an idea, so I wrote what I know. Or what I knew.

Oh, and thank you to ~austinblan, =Allysmurfy, ~AGMeade, and ~Zadien20 for the word wars that forced this to be written. :D

-----------------

This piece means a lot to me personally, so I want to get it right. I'd like some critiques to make this solid.

--Is there anything that stands out as needing improvement; any sentences that didn't sit well, any serious grammar issues that need to be addressed?
--Is it too dry, or does it keep your attention?
--What do you think of it overall?
--Any other concerns or suggestions?

Link for #theWrittenRevolution:[link]
Add a Comment:
 

Daily Deviation

Given 2013-07-06
As the suggester says, This fantastic glimpse into the mind of a narrator with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is extremely creepy in the most relate-able way - what if you did leave the stove on? I Call Him Compulsion is by ~ninjababy ( Suggested by SilverInkblot and Featured by Nichrysalis )
:iconsilverinkblot:
This is unbelievably creepy in an extremely relate-able way. It's not horror movie creepy: there's the very real sense of fear undermining every action of the main character. The build-up is so extreme that I'm almost disappointed that nothing happened at all in the end - not because I want to see bad things happen to our heroine, but because I'd like to know her paranoia is justified instead of compulsive. There's no release of fear in the end - we're just left feeling even more wound up than before.

There's an undercurrent of insanity to it, but the fears are common enough that you could never discount them in your own life, from the appliances to the fear for your family. It's much more effective than zombie paranoia could ever be.

I think the one thing I might change is the way you've given the compulsion a personality - I don't really think we need it personified as a demon. Somehow it's creepier as a disembodied entity in your mind that as one of Lucifer's agents :XD: Giving it a personality kind of implies that the "demon" is the one leaving the stove on and that sort of thing.

The ending is fantastic. I have nothing to add to that :D
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
67 out of 67 deviants thought this was fair.

The Artist has requested Critique on this Artwork

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:iconamrgalal7:
amrgalal7 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Featured here fav.me/d6i6dm1 :boogie:
Reply
:iconactsofart:
ActsofArt Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Amazing! every word had me reading to the very end wonderfully thought out!! Congrats on the DD this one really deserves it!
<3
Reply
:iconcrazydoggy:
crazyDoggy Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013  Student General Artist
Wow, this is so detailed and is something I can fairly relate to. I have this problem with numbers and syllables, where 3 or 5 ice cubes in my water is perfect, but 4 is somehow too many; where if I repeat an odd-syllable word too much, I get agitated. 
I have to know the exact time as often as possible, or else I feel lost. If I hear a small noise, even if I know it was nothing, I will keep looking over to where it came from until I forget that I ever even heard it.

Every detail matters to me. Anywho, this is such an accurate and amazing piece of writing. c:
Reply
:iconaliza-em:
aliza-em Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow very eye opening...... aaand your writing is nothing short of perfection, totally deserved the DD! :D
Reply
:iconpatrikia-bear:
Patrikia-Bear Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Dude.........
I hope I never become this person.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Well, as there's only one of me, I think you're probably safe.
Reply
:iconamrgalal7:
amrgalal7 Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Outstanding, overwhelming and epic. Congrats :heart:
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :D
Reply
:iconamrgalal7:
amrgalal7 Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Most welcome ;)
Reply
:iconrain0o0o:
Rain0o0o Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013
Awesome piece!
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you!
Reply
:iconmorzanselvendaughter:
MorzansElvenDaughter Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013
Wow. I definitely can see why you got a DD. Congrats.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :)
Reply
:iconmorzanselvendaughter:
MorzansElvenDaughter Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2013
Welcome. :)
Reply
:iconmahasim:
Mahasim Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I live with a family member who has OCD similar to this. It's very hard understanding her motivations and how she thinks, but this might've helped.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'm glad; it's so hard when you're dealing with OCD to explain it to family members. If it helps in any way, than it's done more than I could have asked for. Thank you. :)
Reply
:iconsteve-c2:
Steve-C2 Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013
Well written. That's all I have.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you. :)
Reply
:iconvelkynkarma:
VelkynKarma Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Personally I really love how this piece accurately shows just how a person feels with OCD.

I've got my own pretty frustrating compulsions (not the same as these ones though) so a lot of this felt familiar. The way you can know and simultaneously not know things, how you can't logic yourself out of redoing a particular task that you know isn't necessary and keep doing it anyway just in case or because I need to.

I find it hard to explain to family sometimes why it is I need to wash my hands [X] amount of times after [Y] task or why I can't touch objects A or B without following [Z] compulsion, but object C is mysteriously okay, or why I need to double and triple-check certain things...etc etc. And I know sometimes it frustrates or exasperates them. Hell, it frustrates and exasperates me too, to know I'm doing these things completely illogically but I have to do them anyway because I have to. But this captures it perfectly. So, great job.

~VelkynKarma
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
The explaining--oh, I am so with you there. There are so many things my husband just doesn't understand, and it's impossible to give him the experience. This is as close as I could get. I'm both pleased and comforted that so many others understand. Thank you!
Reply
:iconcrazycomposer:
crazycomposer Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013
Brilliant. From one with bipolar... We Understand.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Those are two of the best words you can say when you mean them. :)
Reply
:iconxxstolen-soulsxx:
xxStolen-soulsxx Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013
sounds exactly like the struggle that grips the mind of someone suffering from severe OCD...
I don't have it that bad, but I do get those nasty visions... I see car crashes and fires play out in my head... and I have to say out loud, "no, I don't want that to happen." it still bothers me after I say that, but it helps to distract me from the vision... sometimes it gets me paranoid enough that I get out of bed and start pacing...
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
It's a horrible feeling to dread something that isn't real or logical, but that's definitely life for a lot of us.

:hug:
Reply
:iconxxstolen-soulsxx:
xxStolen-soulsxx Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2013
it is.

Personifying the irrational thought as a demon conveys the feeling well.
it's something that grips you as though you are possessed, and you know you shouldn't think the thoughts, but you do it anyways... it's a fear so powerful that it can be paralyzing... but it's all in your head.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
This, exactly.
Reply
:icon887pink:
887pink Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Student General Artist
This is so well done! I have OCD so I get where your coming from. A few years ago my OCD was at about the same place as yours and I remember how stressful it was. I really wish you the best when it comes to dealing with it.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
When I wrote this, it was absolutely how I felt. I will say that since then these aspects have dwindled and now there are other obsessions/compulsions popping up. Ah well, win some, lose some.

Thank you! :hug:
Reply
:iconzeke-01:
Zeke-01 Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013
That demon that compels us... Fear, anxiety, worry... the voice in your head... a voice of reason... or of needless caution... is caution ever really needless... can you be too careful? Do we have reason to fear? If not, why are we constantly bothered by the words of the foreshadowing storyteller...? It's a beautiful story that asks many questions and makes many people think many things. ^~^ A favourite for sure.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Questions that haunt us a million trillion times a day. Thank you!
Reply
:iconzeke-01:
Zeke-01 Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013
^^ you're very welcome. ^~^ I feel someone else may understand my fears and my worries, of my demons. I will watch to see more. Should you ever care to, I have many similar stories of my past... many times when morality, and the grey areas of good and bad are brought into question. I have my demons, but can rarely speak of them, lest I drive away all those I speak with... It's nice to meet another intelligent soul who won't simply go running from something they don't understand.
Reply
:iconblacktudorrose:
BlackTudorRose Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
This is creepy in the sneak-up-on-you-and-make-you-slowly-go-mad kind of way. Our something like that. Its hard to describe.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That's good, though; because in a lot of ways that's what it actually feels like! Thank you. :)
Reply
:iconblacktudorrose:
BlackTudorRose Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
No problem.
Reply
:iconthelearningartist:
TheLearningArtist Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I don't have OCD (in fact, I have ADHD, which is the sort of the exact opposite thing) but this does sort of let me know what it feels like.
I like this because the main character is not just a list of symptoms with a face. You get the severity of the disorder across, but your character has a personality too.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'm glad that comes across; sometimes it's so easy to see the disorder instead of the person.
Reply
:iconstarrysky963:
starrysky963 Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist
Faving this simply does not do it justice. This is fantastic! Absolutely and satisfyingly haunting, different, real. Lovely piece.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much! Real--that part's important to me. Thank you for seeing that. :)
Reply
:iconstarrysky963:
starrysky963 Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2013  Hobbyist
You're very very welcome. (:
Reply
:iconscarlettbaudelaire:
ScarlettBaudelaire Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013
This is great. :)
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks! :)
Reply
:icondaylighteneddark:
DayLightenedDark Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Congratulations on the DD! :D
I loved this. Even though I don't have OCD, this gives me a little grasp on what it feels like. There's so much tension and fear, and I was also fearful of all the things the heroine was afraid of. It really stirs my emotions. Wonderful job on this!
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! That was partly my goal when writing it, so that's good to know. :D
Reply
:icondaylighteneddark:
DayLightenedDark Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome! Well, fear wasn't the whole poem. It was only a small part because the whole thing is basically showing what OCD is like and how it feels. I can understand that. :)
Reply
:icongloryangel:
GloryAngel Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013
It's interesting to get that perspective of OCD.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'm glad you think so! :)
Reply
:iconmclovesdance:
MClovesdance Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Student General Artist
I love that this is a Daily Deviation <3
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:D
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013   Writer
Overall I loved this. It's a very good and accurate depiction of compulsions, and I love that you describe numbers as needing to be complete and that the narrator fixates on odd numbers - I tend the same way, so I get a little annoyed with the consistent portrayal of people with OCD as always needing even numbers. This was refreshing and overall realistic.

A grammar quibble: All day the demon sits on my shoulder; crawls around in my brain; whispers in my ears. - I am 99% sure that semicolons don't work here (in order to use semicolons to separate a list, I think you need to actually need them (so one of the listed items needs to have a comma in it)). Using commas instead would work for sure. (Or double-check this!)

Me, alive, my arms empty as I swing from the last shred of sanity I have left, carried away by a balloon of fear. - This sentence stood out to me. I like the imagery, but it caught me by surprise. It just seemed very... abstract? Much more so than everything that came before it, anyway. And it's the first time and only time the narrator really shows fear for herself. I think you could do more with this idea, if you're still looking to improve this piece.

I very much love the ending. Probably my favorite part of this.
Reply
:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the critique, I'll take a look at it!
Reply
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