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Who am I?

| Monday, September 21, 2020

Before we begin, I want to tell you that the regular author of this column hates riddles. Ah yes, I should probably divulge that Mr. Niforatos told me to tell you something formal and businesslike — “He had some important matters to attend to and couldn’t take up the pen this week” — but truth be told, I didn’t give him much choice when I seized his ink and parchment and commanded him to write with all of the grace of a puppeteer controlling a marionette. His fingers will be writing, but I have placed him into a trance and have taken his voice captive for this week.

Let’s see then, states of being for you humans do not usually have a physical voice of their own, so where should I begin? I suppose one typically starts with an introduction in these situations. But I don’t think I’m going to tell you who I am, certainly not right away anyways. Chalk this up to my distaste for the name you have given me. No no, this is not because I dislike the way that it sounds on your tongues. To the contrary, the name that you humans have given me is delightfully and deceptively soft when it first leaves your lips, like the orb of light from a lamppost glowing in a blizzard, before it turns sour and scaly at the end, and you are searching the dark around you for an invisible viper sliding around your ankles. I am a vain fellow if you couldn’t already tell, and I hate the name you have given me because it portrays who I am so poorly. Yes, it is true that I am manipulative and conniving, it is true that I am using Mr. Niforatos as a mouthpiece (Oh, I can feel him fighting to regain control of his pen at this very instant!), but I do not want to be known as the prince of thieves. I want to be revered and feared like Genghis Khan, the conqueror of all things human.

Yes, I am also dramatic. All great geniuses are. Would you believe me if I told you that I similarly entranced Shakespeare when he penned his greatest works? Nothing to it! Stop your applause before I blush any more. To enslave Shakespeare to write with my voice, that is nothing to me. But to be the ghost writer for the person whose name you forgot as you pass them in the hallway every day, this is my crowning jewel. I am the one who animates the emptiness inside and paints it to be a butterfly. I am the frost that consumes and grows across your pupils as if it were a window in the dead of winter. Yes, it is true that I will devour and destroy you and send you plummeting to the waters below like Icarus, but is it not worth it? I will give you wings of wax and you will see the sun and stars and fly the highest that you have ever flown. We are all falling; my promise to you is that I will take you quite a bit higher in exchange for the descent being quite a bit lower.

I am going to tell you a terrible secret, and forgive me as I delightfully shudder at my own wickedness. The truth is that every single one of you knows who I am, but exactly none of you will be able to name me. That is fine with me; as long as my name sits at the back of your consciousness and travels like a whisper through your soul, I will know that I am in control. I’ll be waiting here for you, as well. Faust made a pact with the devil, exchanging his soul for all he could have ever wanted, and the same terms stand for you. You will dream of them in worlds that I have created for you, and who knows, you may begin to enjoy the feel of puppet strings chained to your ankles and to your feet.

Alright, I suppose I have controlled the author’s pen for long enough; I can feel him resisting my grip and trying to add grammar errors so that my message doesn’t get across to you. Very well, I have tantalized you with forbidden fruit for long enough. Do you want to know who I am, truly?

I am —

Gabriel Niforatos is a senior majoring in political science with minors in the Hesburgh Program in Public Service and theology. He is passionate about giving a voice to the disenfranchised and writing is the muse he is persistently chasing. He can be found at [email protected] or @g_niforatos on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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