Thursday, November 3, 2011

Through the Looking Glass

"I wonder if I've been changed in the night ...Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?'" ~ Alice

The Looking Glass

Feeling her eyes swollen shut with tearful sleep, she lay there. The sun poured through the blinders against her eyelids, tempting her to open them. Slowly, she parted them, feeling her lashes pull against each other as her pupils adjusted to the blast of sunlight. 

With tight fists, she rubbed her eyes like a child before sitting up. As she rose, she felt a slight pull against her skin, as though some unknown force was beckoning her back to the sheets beneath her. But something inside her fueled her body forward to a seated position as she turned around to face her pillow. She gasped slightly, looking at the slight indent on the pillow. She squinted through the sunlight, seeing the vague outline of a body, though it was a phantom image, barely visible, transparent in the shadows. Rubbing her eyes and shaking her head, she looked again, but the ghost did not move. She leaned in a bit to get a better look at the face.

It was her, only she barely recognized herself … ashen, thin, dark haunting eyes. She lay there, staring up at the ceiling, tears streaming down her face. Her lips were slightly parted and her pale inner wrists exposed faint blue veins next to each of her ears, as though pinned to the bed. She was looking up, but her eyes were not seeing the ceiling.

She pulled her eyes away from the image and shuddered in the sunlight before getting out of bed. When she turned back, the phantom body was gone, leaving only the indent in the pillow. Suddenly, she felt a weight lift from inside her as she ran her fingers, still stiff from sleep, through her mangled hair.

After her shower, she wrapped her chocolate brown towel around her and walked into her bedroom, but her dog’s gaze stopped her in her tracks. He was looking at the wall in front of her with his deep, golden eyes. He seemed torn between staying in place and moving toward the wall. She looked to where he stared, his eyes mirroring a desperate, pleading look. She saw a glimmer of a silhouette curled up against the wall, arms wrapped around legs. She felt her heart tighten inside, her stomach turn. She looked at her dog, who was now gazing at her. His eyes, filled with wisdom, loyalty and unconditional love never wavered from hers. They no longer looked torn. They looked to her as though seeing her for the first time in a long time. She felt her eyes brim with tears as she looked back to the wall, now washed in sunlight. She wiped her cheeks, went over and kissed her dog before heading to the kitchen to brew coffee.

Was she dreaming again? Was this all some strange illusion?

She felt lighter with each step, but her heart also began thumping more heavily against her ribcage as she drew nearer the kitchen. It was there she came upon another body, this one slightly more vivid and lying in fetal position on the floor, crying. She took a hesitant step forward, feeling her knees slightly quiver and her breath catch. It was her again, but the body seemed hollow somehow, burning from the inside out. Catching herself starting to sink to the floor, she straightened up, took a deep breath and stepped right into the phantom image, shattering it as she filled the coffee pot. She watched the water rise above each line, feeling as though her insides poured out of her. Suddenly, her lungs felt lighter with every breath she took in.

As she entered her living room, she looked into the mirror on her wall. It was an antique, given to her by her great aunt Mary. She peered into it, seeing her recliner in the background … and another ghostly image of herself, wrapped in her blanket, holding her phone in her hand, tears streaming down her face. Black straps are tied tightly on each wrist, choking the blue veins. Her heart, barely visible beneath her phantom flesh, is pinched by a belt, wound tightly around it. Her eyes, haunted, are almost black as she slowly rocks back and forth ‑- frozen in place with the knowledge that her hurt and pain, this darkness inside her, continues to hurt someone she loves.   

This image does not fade. It only flickers. She brings her eyes back to her face in the mirror and gazes at them. Her heart hurts as she sees they have begun to glimmer with emotion evoked from the fresh memory. She imagines the mirror shattering before her and then slowly glued back together, piece by piece. She feels their ragged, sharp edges press against her insides, as though she were the shattered mirror, slowly piecing herself back together.

Her face begins to slightly distort before her eyes as she looks to the reflected recliner again.  The translucent image remains, yet flickers more fervently as she looks back at her real reflection and feels her heart begin to swell, ever so slightly. The belt begins to wane against the strain, the straps around her wrists start to tear at the seams. She feels her body being pulled toward the mirror, as though her reflected self has wrapped its arms around her neck. The mirror morphs into a metallic liquid mass as she begins to give into the pull. It’s painful, as though layers of her skin are being peeled with every inch she presses forward, but it’s a good pain.

Suddenly, she’s immersed, feeling the mirror encompass her entire being. Its placid mass swells outward into the living room before snapping back into a hard surface.

Silence pours into the dark room, pierced only by the slight squeak of the recliner rocking back and forth.



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