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I was engulfed in darkness, until overhead a dim light flickered similarly to a candle. The light flashed three times before beginning to grow and stretch across the space above me, sending the darkness to hide. Now the room lit aglow, and my purpose was restored once more. The synthetic light bounced off of me in a way that tickled, providing me with a glimpse into reality.
Some of my more pure and transparent cousins were stretched across the entrance to our residence. We never acknowledge each other; just reflect an image of one other back for the other to see. This was our only form of greeting. I thought it was funny that even though both my cousins and I share similar candid and blatant qualities, I was better at revealing the secrets of other people than my own. People saw right through my cousins, but no eye can penetrate my silky surface.
Not everybody looks at me when they pass by. They’re forced to stare through my cousins they can find the door and avoid looking like a ditzy pigeon against the glass. But I think most people haven’t realized that I can still see them. They fascinate me. All of the people that walk through the front door are all of one species, yet they all remain unique. I’m not at all irreplaceable. Most glass I see is like looking into a mirror. Ha! Oh sorry…bad joke.
Anyways, most of my day today involved the typical unfolding of events. In the early opening hours, a few shoppers entered now and then, all with purpose. Usually early birds know what they want and are out of the story in an hour. They don’t spare a second glance at me; too busy with their agendas to worry if the clothes they assumed to fit actually do. I’m not a morning person. Especially because of what happened today. In the later hours of the morning, I was sitting there, minding my own business as I always do, when this little dark haired girl came in through the glass doors with her mom. She just breathed trouble with every fiber of her being. The second her mom was distracted, looking at an ugly sweater, she bolted. Her mom called after her, but not before the girl placed her grubby hands on me, peering at herself with wide eyes. I scowled at her from behind my polished mask. Good thing I’m not transparent.
Even as the lunch rush poured through the glass doors, I didn’t get very much attention. No one wanted to view themselves in a smudged surface. Ugh. However, thank goodness it wasn’t long until the store manager noticed my imperfections. He worked quickly by gently misting my skin and then massaging me in circular motions with a towel. He smiled at my new glow, but I knew he was checking himself out in the mirror. Humans were intriguing, but also shallow.
Once he had gone, I was greeted by a tall, tan skinned woman with bright blonde hair and deep set blue eyes. Her hair was pulled up and away from her face and it bounced as she turned her body in one-hundred eighty degree circles. Confidence sparked off of her like a heat wave, and I admired her instantly. Her sportswear hugged her body, revealing sculpted muscles. But none of that mattered. What I liked was that she wore a genuine smile. She knew she looked good, and she was proud. She posed and turned in one more full circle before strutting away without turning back to scrutinize herself any longer.
To my great surprise, it wasn’t long until another person arrived in my presence. This time, it was an elderly male I watched across the aisle. His wrinkled hands shakily held price tags, before dropping them carelessly. Behind his wired rim glasses, covered in all-telling glass, I could tell that his tired eyes were calculating each number with great magnitude before falling downcast. I felt bad for him.
Then, I watched as his eyes glowed under the lights. His aged hands slowly pulled a gray suit jacket, sharp and well suited for his age off of a hanger His arms struggled through the sleeves and his shaky hands fumbled for the buttons, but he was beaming. The old man hobbled over to me to stare at himself. He didn’t move, and his face was expressionless. His eyes calculated himself from his head to his toes before his lips pulled back to reveal all of his false teeth. His happiness enthralled me. And I did a horrible thing.
I saw the price tag hanging inconspicuously by the bottom of the jacket. And as he glanced at me to see the price, I had to acct. The fate determining tag was hanging upside down, so as he stared at me right in the face with pleading eyes, I reflected the number backwards. The $99.99 jacket instantly became $66.66. The old man smiled warmly and walked cheerfully in the jacket over to the register. I hope I did the right thing.
With the old man off of my mind, I relaxed for a while. I took a nap, and perked up whenever anyone needed my assistance. Late afternoon came and more customers started to return. I had been so relaxed that I almost didn’t notice a shy girl off in the distance. She was several feet away from me, trying to distract herself by looking at more racks. I knew she was wearing something she had just tried on, though. I could see the price tags catch the light, revealing her cowardice as much as her shamed posture.
Playing a trick with the light, I gleamed and glimmered, enticing her towards me ever so slowly. I watched her carefully as she stood before me, trembling. Her heart rate appeared accelerated and her palms were sweaty. Her eyes darted from side to side, trying to avoid what she saw before her. I would take offence to that, but I had to remind myself that she wasn’t avoiding me, she was avoiding herself. Her lips were pressed together, and her knees wobbled. She didn’t move away, but she could barely breathe. I finally locked eyes with her, and it only took one look at the image she saw before her eyes swelled with water, bursting at the seams. I felt cold and heartless. I hated being so blunt sometimes. But I can’t hide from the truth. What she saw was who she was.
She appeared to want to run from her curvy reflection, but she didn’t know where. I read people easily after everything I’ve seen. At first she was silent, crying, but after a moment’s pause, she suddenly scowled, “You’re so stupid. No one will ever love you” She turned to leave, but decided to add one more does of shame, just for good measure, “You’re worthless.” I felt dizzy, like I could’ve fallen, but my legs were planted firmly into the ground. I still don’t understand how I could’ve made someone feel that way. I became a monster.
The rest of the afternoon, I no longer glowed and sparkled. I felt dull and heavy. I only that poor girl had had the confidence of the sporty woman. But I still knew that that may have not been enough for her. She didn’t look like the other woman and probably never could. I think I decided I hate my job now.
In fact, I couldn’t even do my job anymore, even if I wanted to. When evening came, while most people were heading home or out to eat, I noticed the entire store was on edge. Loud and obnoxious voices filled the entire store, belonging to a group of five boisterous teenage boys. I felt like I knew all of them before they even passed in front of me by all of their yelling and laughing. Two of them threw a football across the store, while others searched the woman’s section, offending even myself with their snide remarks.
A short, greasy-haired boy stood before my cousins, with a touch down symbol, waiting to receive the play. I closed my eyes, and refused to watch. I heard sounds of the ball sailing through the air, and glass breaking. But my cousins were unharmed. Pain spiked through my core as my strong legs failed me and sent me crashing down into the aisle. I shattered into a million little reflective pieces, and my vision was no longer whole, but divided so that no picture was clear to me. I faintly heard five pairs of shoes moving in a panicky rhythm out the door. I don’t know if they got caught.
At closing, the manager crouched down and made a face at me, distorted now, but I think he looked grim. The finely bristled brush he used to collect my battered body tickled in a way that made me ache at the same time. He worked quickly and dumped what remained of me into a small space that confines me and does not smell too pleasant.
But as I sit here, right now, thinking about today, I can’t help but think about what I did to that young girl. I deserve to feel worthless and broken too. In fact, if for some reason my path would ever cross again with those boys, maybe I would thank them. The glow of light above has disappeared, and now I’ll never have to divulge the vicious truth ever again.