b'A virus brought nations to their knees.A weight pressed down ever slowly, ever steadily to a distant, drowsy chant of routine.A bout of depression brought the metal cogs of a mind to a somewhat sudden and screeching stop. A mental illness metaled and melted a once-well defined normalcy. A series of unresolved conflicts broke a bridge of trust. Not all at once, buta combination of tiny cracks brought it crumbling. A cancer nearly moved a man off an irretrievable edge. A cavernous canyon opened up, threatening to swallow us all alive andmiraculouslydid not.A deadlier disease even than these has slithered into our lives, slipped into our beds, slid under our covers. It deftly whispers dark and deadly secrets into our deepest dreams as we drift. At the cancerous cavern, the darkness says, I own you. Atop the rubble, the darkness declares, Irreparable. Amidst the throes of depression, the darkness isolates. You are alone.Among the monotonous moments, the darkness plants impossible promises. Follow thefun, the extraordinary, the unique. Find meaning in your experience and neglect all else.At the onset, the darkness says Buy. Control. Bow down.The darkness wages war, and weOnce powerless, now armed,Once enslaved, now free,Once children of darkness, now children of light,Once devoid of meaning, now abounding in purpose,Once alone, afraid, adrift, now wholly secure, sure, and satisfied Must fight back.By Madison Smith Strickland14| 36 |'