To Thine Own Self Be True This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

It was just an ordinary day but unlike any other ordinary day. I didn’t go to school. Truancy was nothing new. My grades were phenomenal for someone who rarely ever came in. I could practically teach the class. I loathe it here. The people are so predictable it is pathetic. They have problems that have an easy solution, but no one really wants their problems fixed because they would be nothing without them. If their problems were gone, all that would be left is the unknown and that scares people. Everyone here might as well be a machine with a bar code. Individuality is hard to come by these days. Is it so much to ask for someone to be interesting?

I foolishly indulge in the memories of the good old days as I walk past my old dead neighborhood that used to be so alive when we were kids. Life was simple back then. Well, everything is easier with the mentality of a child. As children we’re uncensored, imaginative, real, until we’re trained to be what society deems acceptable. My friends and I went our separate ways after we entered high school. I was still that uncensored “child”. I meant everything I said and gave my honest opinion no matter how insulting it was. I’m not into lying to make people feel better about themselves. My friends became everything they said they hated. They became part of the “in” crowd, sycophants who flatter each other only to reveal their true feelings in the form of duplicity. They keep themselves in a never ending vicious cycle of drama. Really, what’s so appealing about that?
The last time I spoke to one of my old friends was at a party a few weeks ago. Most of them walked past me without saying anything. It was painfully obvious that they were trying to avoid eye contact. The only one who would look at me was Tony. We stood across the room from each other, but his gaze was magnetic. His ice blue eyes scrutinized my face as we exchanged seductive smiles. He walked over without breaking eye contact.
“Katherina, it’s nice to see you again. How’ve you been?” His smile was warm and inviting.
“I’ve been good. And you?”
“Finishing up senior year then getting the hell out of this town. I got accepted into Brown. You know, I heard that you’re going to Cambridge University. I’m not surprised.”
“Yes, I am. Well I hope everything works out for you.”
“And I hope things go great for you as well.” He smiled and swiftly glanced around the room before returning eye contact. “It’s kind of loud in here, don’t you think. Maybe we should go somewhere a bit quieter.”
“Yeah.” I tilted my head to whisper in his ear. “I’ll follow you upstairs on one condition.” I paused. “You can’t look back. Not one peek.” I gave him a half smile. There was a sense of bewilderment and excitement in his eyes.
He passed me and started heading up the stairs. I followed; my footsteps were soft and I could feel his temptation to turn around. He reached the top of the stairs and turned to the nearest room. His hand turned the knob and he glanced over just before we entered the room. I bit my lower lip and lowered my gaze to his lips. He grabbed me by the waist and gently pushed me against the wall as he kissed me. His lips worked their way around my jaw line and moved down my neck, then my chest.
“Do you know the story of Orpheus and Eurydice?” I asked in a soft tone.
“What?” He chuckled over the word and had a perplexed look on his face.
“They were lovers. After Eurydice’s death, Orpheus goes into the underworld to get her back. He was a musician and his music was said to be so beautiful that it made Hades himself weep. Hades let her go on one condition. She would follow, if he didn’t look back at her until they reached the mortal world. They were only a few steps away when he could not bear it any longer and turned to look at her. She was then dragged back into the depths of hell.”
“How poetic. You know, you’re a very intriguing person.” He pulled me in for another kiss but I gently pulled away.
“He tried going back. But humans weren’t allowed to enter the underworld more than once. He only had one chance and he blew it.” Confusion was written all over his face. “Tony, you looked back. Right before we entered the room” And I left.
I haven’t seen him since then. He tried calling, I’m not quite sure why. I even heard he was asking around for me. My father would always say, “You always remember the woman who got away”. Men seem to have this thing for unattainable women, in their mind they think “challenge accepted.”
I shuffle through the leaves beneath my feet as I walk down these decrepit streets that seem somehow altered. I looked up and realized that I was in front of the house I used to live in when I was younger. It was a small house steeped in the shadows. Dead trees with spindly branches waved in the air and the bark flaked off in random spots. I stepped on the brown crispy leaves that littered the yard. The door opened with just a gentle touch on the knob. The room is dim and vast. The walls painted in deep amethyst and the floor is tiled with marble. A familiar fragrance that still lingers here is stirred by the chilly draft from the windows that are decorated by faded blue, ripped curtains.
All of a sudden a grey blur sprung from what seemed to be out of nowhere. I let out a small shriek followed by a small chuckle at my foolishness. The grey blur was just a cat, a harmless adorable cat. I followed it into the next room. This room was smaller and the walls were a dark moldy rose color. It was empty with the exception of a narrow mirror with a gold European outline. I slowly step toward it, aligning one foot in front of the other. I was shocked to see that the reflection in the mirror was that of a little girl. Pieces of her ebony black hair swayed near her hazel eyes, the rest held back in pigtails. I could see the tracks of her tears that streamed down past her red lips. She put on a plastic smile that looked so real it was frightening.
What was even more terrifying was that this little girl was me. Well, the left over fragments of who I used to be. I stroke the glass with my fingertips and watch as the little girl fades away until nothing is left but my own reflection. It is said that mirrors are the reflection of one’s soul. Mirrors never lie; the truth is I’m just a scared little girl that hides behind a veil of cynicism. It’s funny how the past and present can often clash; even without people realizing.
Leaving the house, I felt a sense of refinement. I start heading back home when I saw Tony walking down the street in my direction. I smiled as our eyes met and I stopped mid-step for a moment. He gave me a velvet smile and I continued to move forward.





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