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Pain, pain in the head. Pain in every possible nerve in every possible spot in the brain. I woke up to this- No. I wake up to this every morning. The stupid alarm, why couldn’t someone have invented an alarm clock that didn’t cause that horrible sting in your ears?
Oh how I took mornings for granted. I always hated the “Good morning, how are you, Mindy?” from my parents. It was NOT a good morning, ever. Having to wake up that early to the knives in your ears- not remotely worth a “good”. I dreaded it every day.
No. I still dread it. I dread it. Present tense.
Six in the morning. Typical schedule: run, shower, get dressed, cereal, school. Simple. Easy. What 16 year old would want difficult that early in the morning?
But that one day. That completely… weird day. No. Weird isn’t good enough. It was… it was as if the tectonic plates that were my life, my happiness, my understanding of anything in this world, shifted. And one huge, bizarre earthquake struck a gash in my life.
My life. Yes. It was my life. It is my life.
The day? How could I forget the day? September 23, 2004. It was a… It wasn’t special. No, not really. Not like those horror stories on a “dark and stormy night”, or those fairytales with birds singing and blue skies. No. It was just… a day. I wouldn’t remember anyways… I didn’t pay attention to those things. Not then. I do now. Now I look hard at the birds, the glassy blue sky, the clouds, as if they were painted on by some famous artist. Famous? No, who cares about fame? Some talented artist, one who took their time, who cared about every stroke of the brush. Who knew they were important, that what they did was important. Is important. For goodness’ sake-present tense!
I was at school. With my friends of course, I had those then. I don’t have any now. They’ve all run off, they’re afraid. Of me, of the words I say. Strange how words, scratches on a paper, or sounds from a mouth, can instill such…such fear. Such utter terror in a person.
It was a day. Just a day. I went to school, where I was just another grain of sand in the desert. One of thousands. I wasn’t important, heck, I could’ve left, run off to the city, the ocean, Antarctica for all anyone cared. I wouldn’t have been missed. I wasn’t important. I didn’t feel important. Why should I? I did nothing special- As and Bs, my teachers got annoyed at me every once in a while, I talked to the few friends I had and I went home. Home to quiet, simple parents, who did nothing but go to work and read the newspaper. And say “Good morning, how are you, Mindy?” They were parents. That's the definition of parents, is it not? Two people who have a child?
I wasn’t special.
But that house. How I hated that house, loathed it. It was never comforting; it was never warm, cozy. It was never a home.
I remember, I went home that day. September 23. 2004.
I threw my backpack into my room-like I always do. I grabbed some chips from the cabinet in the kitchen. The dull kitchen with the dull maroon colored tiled floor, the dull windows that looked out onto the…
Chips. Yes. Like I always did. Do. I always do. I sat at the computer and looked up… I looked up how to run…no not run. How to run faster. I loved running. Love-damn it, LOVE. I love running. The feeling of flying. The ability to go wherever you want, to leave wherever you want. And to do it fast? I’m not that fast, I always try to find ways to get faster. The faster the better… right?
My mom got home from work just then. “Mindy? You home?”
“In here, mom,” I called, scrolling through all the options on the search engine: Muscle Builders!, Exercise, Run, 30 minute sprints!
She walked into my room- rather like a mouse. Scampered, but slowly, quietly. “Honey, how are you?”
Always this How are you? Are you okay? Have a good day? stuff. I took it for granted then. The fact that she cared. Rather, pretended to care.
“I’m fine, Mom.” Typical response. Really-who would say “Oh well actually I’m really upset because I stubbed my toe on the sidewalk on the way home-it still hurts”? How would someone respond to that? Politeness isn’t the same as caring.
“Good, dear.” She walked off then; that would be the last time I’d see her that night.
After our little exchange I took a shower. That shower. The one thing. The piece of stone removed from the bottom of the pile that left the whole thing tumbling down.
I looked into the mirror and brushed my hair.
Ugh, it's so tangled. I hate it!
Thoughts. Normal, yes? Sure, but something was off. The phrase “I hate it” had registered. But it rang in my head differently… My voice... thinking “You hate it.”
It stopped me for a second. Thinking. I set my hairbrush down.
What are you doing? Brush my hair. It’s tangled!
I froze. Someone was in my thoughts, speaking, invading on the one thing that is private to everyone. But it wasn’t someone, not just anyone.
I saw something in the mirror move. A hand. An arm. It was me, my reflection. I had one hand on my hips and was scowling.
But I wasn’t. I was stiff, eyes wide, gaping at the image in front of me.
My mouth moved...well... the reflection of my mouth moved.
“What are you doing? I have to get the tangles out of my hair! I’m not in the mood for this, c’mon!” She moved her arm towards the brush reflected in the mirror, and mine moved, too. My arm moved. Grabbed the brush. And started brushing my hair. It felt like me. It was me. But, I wasn’t controlling it. Almost as if I was sleeping all the while.
I stammered, “What… What the-? What’s going on?”
“Just brush my hair already!” The girl replied, annoyed.
I was still frozen, every muscle in my body contracted, yet, still brushing my hair. My hair. “What? Your-? Who are you? What’s going on?”
I threw my hands down, and pain shot through my body, my brain. Jumbles of thought, messages from my brain that weren’t getting sent to my arms and hands.
“You? It doesn’t matter who you are, stupid. Only I matter.” She moved her hands again and started brushing her hair. No! I started brushing my…my…
“What? What are you talking about! WHO ARE YOU!” I was getting frantic, I tried to pull away again but I just kept brushing. Brushing. Brushing.
“I’m ME, Mindy. You’re my reflection, and you’re supposed to obey me. So do it!”
My body went numb. My thoughts rushed through my brain. ‘Dream’ washed in and out of my mind like a tide; soon, it vanished all together.
“No… What? I’m Mindy, you’re my reflection. You’re just a mirror. Nothing more than light reflecting off…”
“Get off it, will you? You’re me. No, really you’re not anything, but it doesn’t matter. I exist, you have no point but for me to be able to see myself.” She paused to set the brush down, “And you’re really annoying, at that!” She-and I-walked out of the bathroom. Out of sight of the mirror.
I collapsed on the floor, as if I was a puppet, and someone had suddenly cut all my strings off while in the middle of a performance.
The thoughts that rushed through my mind at that point were too much for me to remember. But one thing stuck out among all the thoughts like a nail in a wood floor.
Terror. Utter and complete terror. The thought, the feeling of not being… of not being.
After that day I stopped. After my friends ran away. After my parents began acting like I was a ghost. I stopped. Stopped doing anything. All I have is the skin...this skin, the body I can see, touch. The mind I can move through. My mind. Mine.
I haven’t looked into...
I haven’t looked at... There's nothing more to them than light. Nothing more, nothing more...
I shouldn’t be afraid. I am not the reflection. I am me. I am.
And yet, I can’t help but notice the tiny glint of light I see. Wherever I go. The light I didn't see before then, before September 23. And a tiny voice at the back of my head calling, screaming, angrily “Come here, now! Come here, now! Come here, now…”
The voice is like knives in the ears. Pain in the head. Pain in every nerve in every possible spot in the brain.
But I like it. I keep it there. I don’t try t get rid of it. It’s my brain. It’s my knives. It’s my voice. It’s my pain.