MUSED
BellaOnline Literary Review
Keegan by KJ Ward

Fiction
The Mirror

Crystal Kaba

I spent a long time pretending things didnít exist but maintaining the facade proved difficult.

I didnít think they would leave me alone.

I was supposed to remain watched. Examined. Carefully combed through. Under some supervision at the least.

Everyone was gone. Off somewhere unimportant. I sighed but not with relief.

I was justified no matter who disagrees.

Same bathroom as always. I stared in the mirror watching eyeliner crawl towards my chin. Every tear pushed it farther. I had no reason to wear makeup, but I still scrawled it on every morning and watched it smudge with varying degrees of success.

The reflective surface beckoned. It was blue and silver and touchable. I screamed silently. A suppressed sob pushed through my lungs choking the quiet. I didnít have to keep my mouth shut. I didnít have to control my impulses.

My arms sprang and my hands wrapped around themselves. Fists hit the mirror.

Crack.

Shards of glass rained.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The worn beige wall behind poked through the spots where glass turned to the toxic glitter that covered the marble counter and tile floor. Blood ran down my fingertips, dripping off my nails and patiently collecting in a sticky pool for the second time this week.

I stumbled backwards like a confetti-covered drunk just after her New Yearís kiss. The back wall slammed, and I slid to the ground. Vying for a piece of the action, the fluorescent lights flickered into obscurity. Dim was much easier to bear.

I sank onto my knees, wiping the blood off my hands and onto the cuffs at my ankles. The bandages around my wrists beckoned. I tore them off, aggravating the scabs underneath. More blood. More eyeliner.

I looked up to check on the various liquids covering my face. Out of nowhere, in the shiny silver that still remained, he looked back.

"I miss you," I whispered.

"Ditto, kid."

He slumped, like always, disguising his height. He was close enough to lanky to look the least bit fragile. I never protected him.

He pulled his hands from his pockets and brushed the dark brown hair out of his light blue eyes.

"You can come you know," he said.

I nodded. He pressed his hand to the glass, and I stood to do the same. An almost-connection.

His cuts were fresher. Deeper. More permanent. No scars necessary.

I blinked back a handful of tears.

"You were always so much better at this kind of stuff," I said.

"What kind of stuff?"

"Everything."

He laughed and looked down. The hint of whine in his voice always left him self-conscious.

"Why did you?" I asked.

"Why did you?" he shrugged.

His eyes shot to the floor. Bandages, blood, and glass. Not the most ideal state for the bathroom. I didnít want him to worry.

"How was the hospital?" he delved.

"Horrible."

"How long where you there?"

"Just overnight."

We paused and exchanged looks of apology. My mouth went dry and stuck together like when I tried to verbalize my sincerity.

"They tried to save you."

"They did."

He shook his head and picked at the crack down the center of the mirror.

"Yeah," I agreed and we both understood.

"You can, you know. You donít have to. You still have a chance. But if you want to."

I nodded. It looked cold on the other side. Everything was dark blue except for the green under his feet. A few burnt-out stars hung overhead. They looked as if they were poised to skip the shooting and fall from the sky.

He half smiled but it didnít hide the sadness in his eyes. If I could bottle anything, Iíd bottle his sadness and Iíd spray it on when things stopped making sense.

"I donít want a chance," I said.

"Iíll help you," he offered. Heíd already helped so much.

I climbed onto the counter. Shards of glitter pushed through my jeans and nicked my skin. The basic laws of nature applied. When I crushed the glass it crushed back.

He pressed his pasty hands against the mirror roughly. I tested with my fingertip. Then the finger. Then both hands. He pulled my arms through. The spark melted the bathroom fixtures into silver streams.

I fell forward.

"Youíre a mess," he helped me stand.

"So is the bathroom," I replied.

"Itís an easier clean up."

"Your hands are bleeding." He examined my wrists and wiped the blood off my hands with his jacket. We hugged tightly, making up for lost time. He hadnít protected me either.

I turned and watched as the mess of the bathroom crumbled into the tiny fragments of crushed mirror.

He picked the rest of the glass from my hands and arms, and I traced his scars with my tattered fingertips. When we finally kissed the sky and ground dissolved. But we landed.

It was bright blue. Puffy, white clouds replaced the tired stars. The grass below was thick and soft and everything smelled like the ocean.

"The beach is really close," he explained.

We fell back and lay in the grass watching the clouds drift by.

"I donít care about the beach," I said.

"Neither do I."

He laced his fingertips with mine and made eye contact.

We both smiled.

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Reader Feedback:
I enjoyed reading your story. While reading the story I kept trying to figure out several things. I was trying to decide if the man was your father, a brother or a boyfriend who died or was killed. Second, I wondered if the person looking in the mirror was dealing with the loss of a loved one, bullying or a mental illness called cutting. I found the first part of the story very thought provoking. Good job!
The part of the mirror breaking and how the man and the woman connected was somewhat difficult for me to follow.
You did a good job of moving from reality into fantasy or a dream setting.
At the end of the story I was left with a feeling the woman was at peace.
Thank you for a challenging yet thought provoking story.
~



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