I avoid the mirror
I need to.
It's the only way to hide.
I can see her. Every time I look in the mirror, she's standing there beside me.
"What have you done to me?" Her eyes bore in the me, gnawing into my soul as we reflect in the glass.
I can not respond. There is nothing that could explain this.
She is me, but I am not her.
Years went by, and we seemed to be split.
One innocent and wide eye. The other bitter, panicked, and clinging onto a thread of hope.
I have become a Benedict Arnold to myself.
Ideas, words, and thoughts lost to time all for my own gain, which I never managed to earn.
Running to glory but falling to a void where I lost myself along the way.
The glass kept it all. It shows it all back to me.
It will never let me free.
I avoid the mirror
And the thoughts that scream at me when I look at it, looking for release.
I Can’t Believe You’ve Done This
I remember that day clearly.
Everything from that day is burned into my memory, forever embedded into my mind until I die or I lose it along the way.
It was barely a month ago.
To think all this anxiety and stress started from a math class.
I walked into my third period math class on Wednesday— or maybe Tuesday? I can't remember anymore. All the finer parts of the day have become fleeting memories. I can only remember this.
Graphs. We were learning about X and Y intercepts. It was going to tie into systems of equations. I liked math so there was no problem in the subject or the lesson. Nothing was wrong— except that my teacher insisted on her fast pace. I can still hear it. Her dreaded cry of "faster! Faster! Faster!" It brought sickness to my stomach and hatred in my mind especially with tests. How I hated her tests. She never gave us enough time to finish— for we were supposed to have it completed to perfection by the halfway mark of the period since we were honors students and could handle unrealistic deadlines no problem.
I never liked going fast. What was the point? Rushing was how you made mistakes. So, why were we forced to rush in math, the most direct of all subjects? One mistake and you were doomed. This was the subject that represented the saying "slow and steady wins the race". I think I'll never know why she chose that method, but I do know it was ineffective. Not just for her students, but for her as well.
I noticed the mistake clearly. She plotted the y intercept on the x axis. So, I raised my hand. I told her, not unkindly, that she had made a mistake with the x and y axis. She didn't quite understand. OK. I rephrased it. It didn't work. OK? I tried again. Nothing.
People with power know how to make things hurt. I learned that quickly, considering she immediately assumed I was the one who wasn't understanding. It was humiliating to the point that if I were to go back now, I would tell myself not to say anything even if she said "If I make the mistake, correct me" because it was just a lie.
My throat closed up as my eyes watered. Frustration burned inside me, but I could not scream. From anger or fear of authority, I can't say. Emotions seem to fog everything up.
I could barely breathe as I heard snickering. I saw the face of the boy I hated as he silently wanted this go on. It was like a stab wound. This was not funny! I wanted to say. Stop laughing! But I couldn't. I was all alone as people stood bystander, offering no help at all until someone else managed to get her to understand. It makes my blood boil to this day because we said the same thing, but they said it with a louder tone.
"I am a moron. A complete and utter moron."
That's all I could tell myself. Until class ended. I was a moron for noticing, and I was a moron for trying to explain. She had never listened to me before. Not many do. I was too quiet. Too comfortable being alone. Too comfortable not being loud, or flashy, or fast.
Yet, my torment did not seem to be over for her. She had stopped me after class, asking me if she had made me cry.
"Ah! You are just being too sensitive!"
It stunned me. Not just the words— but the realization they gave me.
I was alone in this. The class could be filled to the brim. Other staff could be in there— our superintendent could be their and I'd still be alone. Despite a crowd of people, I'd be isolated in this class.
I wasn't fast enough on the tests.
I wasn't loud enough to be heard.
I wasn't apathetic enough to ignore being hurt.
I wasn't like the rest of them. Yes, I was an honors student— heck. Even in that class, I'd be the one my peers asked for help. But I was alienated. We had stuff in common, sure, and most of them never publicly tried to differentiate me, but the effect that class had on me showed the difference. No matter what happened, I'd be alone. They were able to find ways to cope. I could not.
But dear reader, do you want to know the worst part of this story?
The worst part, the part that always sticks with me when this memory creeps back in, is that everything I've written was not a horrible dream made to demonize someone. This was not a story made up for the prompt. This story is completely true.
A Writer’s Life
This is the story about how I died. Don't worry, though, I came back!
For writers, our deaths are the hundreds of works we never finished
Held in piles of notebooks and unfinished documents of story ideas
Our inspiration and motivation can be vibrant one day but lackluster the next.
To the random disappearances and lack of updates— then suddenly writing chapter after chapter in one day.
We could quit, but the thought of being successful and saying, "I did it!" Is too tempting.
The life of writers is fascinating yet tiring.
The week dragged on. The only thing in my mind was just "carry on until Saturday."
Eventually, the week closed off. I sprawled on the bed and scrolled through my phone. Barely five minutes later, I looked back towards the window. It was still there. I stood at that window, staring at that car, forever in a stalemate with it.
A loud ping came from my phone. Picking it up, I noticed a message from Wade.
"Clara, Amelia & I are here at your doorstep," it said. I typed a quick reply, pulled out my backpack, put it on, and walked toward the door. I briefly stopped at the kitchen.
"Mama! I'm going to hang out with some friends," I called.
"Okay! Text me and don't come home late!"
I met up with my friends outside. We chatted for a bit, and everything was mundane for an outsider looking in. No unnatural motives, no ideas about searching for alternate truths.
The vague chatter ended as quickly as it started.
"So, how are we going to do this," I asked, shifting uncomfortably. Clara shrugged and walked across the street. She stepped toward the car. The rest of us followed like ducklings. A small pit began forming in my stomach. I felt as if we were nearing the end of days.
We stood around the car expectedly. Our eyes were watchful for anything that could happen. Still, nothing. I think of scales when I look at the car. Unbalanced and unfixable scales. This backward curiosity could cost us our lives, a voice in my head, deepening the pit. We're vulnerable here, and we shouldn't be here, and we shouldn't be snooping around a stranger's car. Out risks are the undertaker's dream.
"What's that?" I sampled out of my fear. Amelia sprinted over to the hood of the car. By one of the wheels, a neat burgundy envelope was neatly sat on the gravel. Amelia opened it gently. We all huddled around it. She froze as she read it. A sense of panic filled us. The tension was so thin you could cut a knife.
"What does it say," I whispered. Amelia passed it to me, her face going pale.
"I know your curiosity. I have seen everything. This world is not as you think it is. So, stay far away. I swear on Hate's last breath if your naiveté doesn't kill you, I will."
"At least they were direct?" The head shaking and shoves drove the point home for Wade's untimely jokes.
For a while, no one spoke. The fear silenced out voices.
Eventually, we decided to leavem we didn't even cross the street when Clara gasped, making us freeze again.
"Look!" Clara grabbed my arm as we all watched in shocked awe.
Navy blue smoke oozed slowly from the key hole of the house in front of us.
It surrounded it as the door creaked open.
They call this "teenage rebellion." I call it classical conditioning.
You'd think adults would realize something was wrong if one of their kids was tormenting the other. Forcing them to do their homework and throwing tantrums until they got their way.
You'd think they'd notice the young girl always on the verge of a breakdown. She's always about to cry and wants nothing more than to be left alone, with her mind at ease.
They told me they knew me better than I knew myself. But why? Why do they know me better? I feel like a different person around them. One who is guilty all the time, a paranoid scapegoat.
"What happened," asked my mother before manipulation shut down her reasoning.
"What did you do," accused my father, unaware he was fooled.
My sister sits idly by—can't blame her, I would to if I had the chance.
Then, there's him. He's younger, but the power he gets is unbelievable. It conflicts with me. Whether to hold him accountable or to find fault in my parents for being twisted to enable him.
It was only a matter of time before I'd stop trusting them. It's like Pavlov's dogs— too much like Pavlov's dogs. Adults were the neutral stimuli slowly being attributed to distrust as they disappointed me again and again.
"Why are you so nervous," I'd be asked, without being allowed to explain.
"You're being dramatic." Became the blanket statement that would fix everything.
Perfect! I would think. Now, my trust issues get worse. It's like there's an invisible tape over my mouth, muffins every word I say so that it can never be believed.
I don't understand why they'd think I'd trust them. If they can't draw the line at this, where would it be?
Kids at school?
A future spouse?
Or would the conditioning go so far that they'd think I'm the problem for everything?
I don't know if I should tell them. Would they even hear it? Should I assume they'd react appropriately if they did?
There was a quote, " Conditioned people only function within the limits of their conditioning." Who wrote that? I can't remember. Whoever it was, they got it right. Is it possible to escape your conditioned environment? Will you be able to realize it's wrong or not? No one's given me an answer. Kids can't. Adults wouldn't. People my age are as lost as I am.
I can't trust them. My brain's conditioned my not to. It's just instinct. How would I know if they're lying. They could be! I'm not one of them. They wouldn't take me seriously.
"Hello, are you still there," she said. I can't speak. Everything's caught up inside me, ready to run away first chance I get. I nod. It seems to satisfy her. She passed me a small bag.
My instincts tell me to drop it. Throw it away. But that's not what an adult would want. I can't trust, but at least I could fake it if I obeyed.
"Thank you," the words barely leave my lips as I carefully open the ribbon, tying it all together. It's a small plush and an abundance of candies.
"Alright, alright, settle down class. You can eat the candy now but only if you behave." I watched her as she put on a movie. People were yelling out suggestions. She eventually settled on "A Nightmare Before Christmas" and went back to her desk. My body relaxed once she was farther away.
I pulled out the plush. It was a small opossum. Everyone was playing with theirs, so an array of animals were being handed around the room. Everything was real, so why did this seem to fake? Why to all of us and for nothing in return? She and I both know how many of these kids are "class clowns" as they call themselves. But she still gave them this regardless?
My eyes wandered to the small pile of candies. Smarties, different brands of chocolates, and even Starbursts. My mouth watered, but instinct gave way. Why would she do this? Something was going to happen tomorrow. As adults always did, she'd say, "I gave you this one good thing and will now pile on hundreds of bad things onto you!"
Despite my reluctance, my instinct for food triumphed my trust issues. Still, it lingered, I waiting for the inevitable. Nothing happened. The only thing being piled onto us was the story of the movie.
My heart is happy, but my brain thinks it's been tricked. As much as I didn't want to, I saved some of the chocolates and Starbursts. Anything to delay my brain from thinking she would take this away. Still, almost everyone finished. Was this a plan? To wait for all of us and then take this away?
But she didn't. The class ended. I still had my opossum and my candies. I came back tomorrow, and no impossible assignment was given.
Any idea that I should trust her was thrown out the window. It's October. She's biding time. I bit back any urge to ask. How should I know if she'd answer truthfully or that she wouldn't spread my suspicions to my parents and my other teachers. I'd rather have indifference or tolerance compared to this. This was unpredictable. It kicked my instincts into overdrive.
It didn't matter, I can't trust any of the adults. They're all the same. A child's trust is a toy to them. Sure, maybe some of them act careful with it. But it will always be broken. It's beneath them. It would never be their equal because it's not an adult's trust. It's a child's. An easy target's.
There weren't enough candies or plushies in the world that could prove me otherwise.
The dishes overflowed. The rug was a crumpled mass, an unintentional booby trap. The soup was half finished, and the pot was boiling over.
Hastily, I scrambled to the stove and shut it off. While he sprawled himself over the couch, beer in hand. The TV mindlessly babbled as he watched it without regard to the hot mess around us.
"David, honey, could I have some help here?"
"Ah, just do it, yerself, ya old hag!" He waved an uncaring hand at me. Slowly, I brought myself back to work. I washed the chipped tea cup as I wondered where the charming man I once knew went. The yellow mustard went back into the cupboard as my heart sunk.
"He was never that person," a small voice in my head hissed. "He knows you love him too much to complain as you're neck up in junk!"
Silent years fell as I sat by the window of our bedroom. Another Christmas came and left with poisoning isolation.
My family seemed so far away, and my friends weren't able to contact me anymore.
No more cherries I got to pick from bushes in the country. No playing in the tennis courts. No putting on fluffy socks as my brother and I raced across tile floors.
Now, my life was a shadow of what it once was. It is filled with creaky wooden planks and a deadbeat.
The only joy I could get was from the neighbors' Christmas lights. Oh, how beautiful they were flickering crimson and green.
Eventually, night would fall, and I had to tear my eyes away from the lights.
As I slept, a strange thought entered my mind. I should leave. Go home for Christmas. Slowly, I crawled out of bed. I packed a bag long into the night. Once the work was done, I went back to sleep, waiting for the morning.
Christmas morning. I tentatively crept down the stairs. Pulling my backpack on, I skidded toward the door.
The bump of my shoulder on the shelt shocked my soul out of my body. Everything froze as his angry footsteps came closer. Louder. And louder. My heartbeat stopped.
"What the HELL are you doing!?" His ranting was cut short when he saw the backpack. My breath was caught in my throat.
"Are you leaving me," he shouted.
"No! No! I just wanted to go home for Christmas please—"
I don't remember anything after that. I huddled myself in the corner. He had been gone for hours, but it still felt as if he was right beside me.
Between sobs, one thought entered my mind.
His demise would be mine.
I'm not sure where I got the idea of how he would die. Maybe I wanted him to suffer the way I have for four years. Maybe it was inspiration from the pranks my brother pulled on each other in the brighter days of my youth.
Whatever the idea came from. I worked tirelessly. Tying and taping. Screwing and measuring. Then all I had to do was wait. Patiently wait like a predator for their prey.
Soon the prey did come. Staggering drunk, per usual. I faked washing dishes waiting for the inevitable tug.
And it came.
He went flying and flailing. His voice pierced my ears. Still, a smile plastered my face.
Now he knew what agony felt like.
I waited for silence. His breathing was ragged as I walked over to him.
The look on his face— Ah hah ha! Oh how I've waited for this.
I could only smile as his breathing cut short.
As I stood over his motionless form, the trails of blood that swarmed out of his body filled me with euphoria.
My lips curved into a small smile as I addressed him.
"Merry Christmas, honey," I said. He gave no reply— of course, he couldn't. What was I thinking? I giggled at my own foolishness.
"I wish my gift was as special as yours," I continued. "After all, I've got exactly what I wanted."
Always Dribbling That Holy Blood
The lights were too bright for my eyes and the music was deafening. My legs were jelly, and my arms were aching for her fingers had become thorn.
I was in pure bliss.
I was whirled around before I could purpose. My face grew warm as she pulled me close.
"It's you that I want to dismember," she said. Her voice was smooth as honey that I couldn't force away.
She had become my angel and my devil. She healed me and destroyed me.
At her command, I would rip my heart from my chest. As we dance, I feel my soul burst into flames.
A voice speaks in my mind.
"Her heart is as hard as stone or mahogany," it says.
"That's why I am in exisquiset agony," I reply.
We dance, and I feel like I've ascended to the heavans. My holy blood is only a small price to pay for eternal paradise. The pain was nothing in my engulfed heart. Neither bruises, blood, nor burns could stop me from loving her. This torturous dance of love would be sought 'till the end.
I couldn't stop myself from thinking otherwise.
Song- The Masochism Tango: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV6wKSMZjdg