I step out of the shower and position myself in front of the foggy mirror, wiping a hand over the condensation. My reflection stares back at me through her watery window. She looks tired. I go through my daily routine sculpting myself: applying the perfect amount of perky personality, masking those pesky character flaws, highlighting amiable yet unobtrusive qualities, and finally carving on a smile until there’s no trace of her left.
Scraping it all off at the end of the day is the easy part even if I am a little raw afterwards. She’s still there, but she looks at me with sad eyes. I suppose because I leave her cooped up in that mirror all day. There isn’t much to see from in there. I don’t remember when I started keeping her shut away. It started with little things at first like forcing myself to smile even when I wasn’t necessarily in a good mood until one day I woke up and didn’t recognize the face looking out of the mirror at me, but she looked pissed.
By the time I realized she was in there, taking her out seemed too risky. So she stays there, sulking and staring at me, her eyes growing a little colder and a little more exhausted with each day, fighting me more and more as I put myself together.
“I’m sorry,” I mutter. “But nobody likes you.”
I don’t know if that’s true, but I don’t like her. That’s why I leave her in that mirror day in and day out. Tears start sliding down her cheeks, washing away all of my hard work.
“Stop it!” I yell at her as my cheery disposition slides out of place for the fifteenth time.
But her tears don’t stop. She won’t look at me. I don’t want to look at her either.
“This is why nobody likes you!” I hiss, storming out the door.
If I let her talk, I’m sure she would tell me, “the only one who hates me is you,” but I don’t.
Today she follows me, peering out of windows and puddles, staring at me out of the bottom of my mug of tea until I want to throw it at the wall. That night I storm back to where I know she’s waiting.
“Just leave if you don’t like it!” I yell. “I don’t want you!”
She stares back at me, my perfect facade crumbling away. Where do I think she is going to go? She can’t leave. She is me. I the reflection, she the reality.
“What happens,” I ask, tears running down our cheeks, “when they see us as we are?”
She doesn’t have an answer and neither do I.
“Just tomorrow,” I sighed as we wiped at our faces. “Just tomorrow, and we’ll see how it goes. I can always put you back.”
I can tell myself that, but I know once she is out, she isn’t going back. Maybe that isn’t so bad. I was tired too. I smile at her, and she smiles back.
I did it! I didn’t write a depressing ending! I hope everyone is staying well out there.