I Call Him Compulsion

Daily Deviation
ninjababy's avatar
By ninjababy   |   
278 112 5K (1 Today)
Published: July 6, 2011
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?"


"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?"


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?


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]
anonymous's avatar
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amrgalal7's avatar
amrgalal7Hobbyist General Artist
Featured here fav.me/d6i6dm1 :boogie:
ActsofArt's avatar
ActsofArtHobbyist General Artist
Amazing! every word had me reading to the very end wonderfully thought out!! Congrats on the DD this one really deserves it!
crazyDoggy's avatar
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:
aliza-em's avatar
aliza-emHobbyist General Artist
Wow very eye opening...... aaand your writing is nothing short of perfection, totally deserved the DD! :D
Patrikia-Bear's avatar
Patrikia-BearHobbyist General Artist
I hope I never become this person.
ninjababy's avatar
ninjababyHobbyist Writer
Well, as there's only one of me, I think you're probably safe.
amrgalal7's avatar
amrgalal7Hobbyist General Artist
Outstanding, overwhelming and epic. Congrats :heart:
ninjababy's avatar
ninjababyHobbyist Writer
Thank you! :D
amrgalal7's avatar
amrgalal7Hobbyist General Artist
Most welcome ;)
ninjababy's avatar
ninjababyHobbyist Writer
Thank you!
MorzansElvenDaughter's avatar
Wow. I definitely can see why you got a DD. Congrats.
ninjababy's avatar
ninjababyHobbyist Writer
Thank you! :)
Mahasim's avatar
MahasimProfessional 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.
ninjababy's avatar
ninjababyHobbyist 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. :)
Steve-C2's avatar
Well written. That's all I have.
ninjababy's avatar
ninjababyHobbyist Writer
Thank you. :)
VelkynKarma's avatar
VelkynKarmaHobbyist 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.

ninjababy's avatar
ninjababyHobbyist 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!
crazycomposer's avatar
Brilliant. From one with bipolar... We Understand.
ninjababy's avatar
ninjababyHobbyist Writer
Those are two of the best words you can say when you mean them. :)
xxStolen-soulsxx's avatar
xxStolen-soulsxxHobbyist Traditional Artist
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...
ninjababy's avatar
ninjababyHobbyist 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.

anonymous's avatar
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