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The Person Looking Back at You
“We hereby give this award to Harper Every. Congratulations for your book, The Secret Behind the Hope, becoming an international publication.” Harper climbed the three stairs to the stage with a tired, but wide-spread smile on her 47-year-old face as the crowd applauded and cheered. Camera flashes danced about the room as she received the award and shook big-time publisher Grant Lowery’s hand. He offered her the microphone to say a few words to the audience, and she took it with great admiration.
“As many of you know, this is just one of the many awards I’ve received for my work. This is also the first book I’ve published in a few years as well, and if you read this book you’ll discover why.” Harper cleared her throat as a memory flashed in her mind, she gulped, shook it away, and continued.
“Life changes in the blink of an eye; positively or negatively will just depend on your luck, but then again things happen for a reason. Take what you have and make the best of it, because who knows if you’ll be here to live another day. I hope you enjoy this book, and I wish you all goodnight.” The theater became deafening with applause as Harper returned the microphone to Grant and exited the stage. She slipped out the back of the building into the chilly November night, walking alone in the parking garage, more memories flashed into her mind. Once Harper finally reached her Lexus, she jammed the keys into the ignition and brought her car to life. She sat the award in the passenger seat at drove home in silence.
After settling into her office chair, Harper took a sip of her warm tea and pulled files from the wall shelves. There were several pieces of paper in one file titled “attempts at science fiction stories” – her inspiration coming from Ray Bradbury. There were also several folders full of fictional pieces and poems; bins full of ideas never finished or taken action to. Harper moved to her large glass case that filled up half the wall of her office room, opening the large doors and brushing against the awards, several more memories came back.
Then, she came upon the bin full of pieces that Lucy had loved. Harper had written them especially for Lucy, and she loved them. The book that she was awarded tonight was dedicated to Lucy. The topic of the novel was about the friendship that Harper and Lucy had shared. Those were the days she wished would never end..
Harper sighed and took one more glance at the foreclosure notice that she held in her hand. It had been years ever since she had written anything, or even entered her office. She felt as if the writing had just gone out of her, like there was nothing left. She only blamed herself for this matter. All the guilt and regret and depression of Lucy’s death had wiped her clean of purpose. Harper laid the notice on the kitchen table and buried her head in her hands. She had no money. She had no job. She had no one to rely on. Harper had no husband, and never intended on it. Her parents had stopped talking to her a long while ago. The only person that would help her in this current financial crisis would have been. The thought of this sent tears streaming down Harper’s cheeks.
The sudden sound of the phone ringing surprised Harper. She gathered herself and went to answer it.
“Hello?” Harper said, trying to sound as if she was alright.
“Hey, little sister. I hear sniffles in the background. What’s wrong?” a man’s voice asked.
“Steven. Hey. I thought I told you to stop talking to me like we’re ten. I’m 35 now.” Harper answered her brother. It was rare of Steven to call out of the blue like this. He was always busy with his job up in Baltimore.
“I know Harper,” he laughed, “but seriously, what’s up?” Harper figured news finally got around to Maryland about a top author suddenly not having put any works out for quite a few years all at once.
“So the news finally got around to you guys huh?” Harper asked.
“Sure did. I’m worried. What happened? Is it Mom and Dad? Did they finally call again?” Steven guessed.
“No. Lucy…. She died. She was murdered.” Harper said quietly. It was silent on the other line. Steven knew Lucy just as well as Harper, and how much Lucy meant to Harper.
“She’s really gone?”
“That’s… Man that’s just not fair.” Steven said, anger slowly rising in his voice.
“I know. It put me to a stop in everything. I don’t have cable anymore, my phone line is soon to be cut off, I take the bus so I don’t use all my money on gas, and I just received a letter in the mail about my house being foreclosed. I’ve got hardly any money left Steven,” Harper said, hot tears swelling in her eyes during the process. “I’m lost.”
“How long has it been since you’ve wrote something Harper?” Steven asked.
“How long has it been since you’ve written? I bet if you wrote about your feelings right now it’d help,” Steven said.
“You’re crazy Steven.”
“Try it. I want an update on it in a few days,” Steven said sternly, and hung up. Harper hung up her phone too, and set it back on the hook. She took a visit to her office, dragged out her journal and flipped through it until she came to the last entry she had ever wrote in it; February 9th, 1999. After scanning the entry, she flipped to the next blank page, grabbed a pen and began to write.
It’s June 7th, 2001, and I’ve decided to tell you the touching account of two young woman that grew up together, and how one watched their world fall apart while the other had no idea what hit her.
Police lights scattered among the driveways of nearby neighbors. This was Lucy’s crime scene.
Harper had sped to Lucy’s house as soon as she received the news that a murder had occurred at 1421 Rockford Lane. There had been a shooting, and a few neighbors had heard the commotion at Lucy’s and were currently being questioned on the basic happenings – they’d be taken in at a later time for more personal questions.
Harper shoveled past the crowd of frantic neighbors and police, crossed under the crime scene tape, and into Lucy’s house.
Detectives were hunched around the living room over a few clots of blood and some knocked over furniture, probably looking for fingerprints. Harper followed the trail of blood that led into Lucy’s room, where blood soaked the bed and floor. Harper was in such a shock, she was shaking – she couldn’t even cry. She then returned to the living room, observed the kitchen, and then ran straight to the bathroom to throw up; it was too much for her to handle. Washing out her mouth and her hands, she stared at her reflection in the mirror, lifeless and dull. Her world no longer spun around anymore. Instead, it slow motioned in rewind.
Harper typed furiously on her Mac, trying to make corrections that had been suggested from her letters from publishing companies not wanting her book. She was very determined to publish her first book, and it’d be a good start on her writing career that she had been dreaming about ever since she had written good pieces in high school and many of her teachers and friends approved of them.
After a few hours of non-stop working, Harper sent off her new story, but to a different publishing company this time. She received a letter in the mail a few weeks later, and opened it with shaky hands. It read:
Our editor, Mr. Lance, approves very strongly of your book. He found nothing that he wanted to change in it. In all, we’d love to have the pleasure in publishing your book.
Harper gasped in excitement, ran for her phone, and dialed Lucy’s number. She couldn’t wait to tell anyone.
“Hello?” Lucy answered politely.
“Hey Luce! Guess what!?!” Harper practically screamed into the phone.
“My book’s going to get published! My very first book! Can you believe it? My first book ever!” Harper exclaimed happily.
“Wow Harper! That’s fantastic! I can’t wait to be the first to buy and read it!” Lucy said.
“Ha ha yes definitely. Well I got to go and respond to their letter. I’ll talk to you later!” Harper agreed. They said good-bye and hung up the phone, both not knowing that Harper’s first book would become so popular, that their friendship would be torn apart.
Harper snatched the note Lucy passed to her, stuffed it into her purse, and quickly got ready to leave their class. Harper was getting so tired of high school – it was getting annoying to wake up extra early in the mornings five days a week just to take a shower, fix her hair and get ready for school. Lucky for her, today was a Friday. Finally, the bell rang and everyone sprang from their seats, relieved to be out of school. At her locker, Harper dug out the note Lucy had passed her last class. She unfolded it carefully, and began to read it to herself.
The person looking back at you is too long past gone.
That reflection in the mirror couldn’t be more wrong.
Maybe the lighting’s a little off, the flash too bright.
Maybe you’d look better, in the pitch black night.
Touch a finger to your cheek, and wipe away a tear.
Blink away the thoughts of sadness, and drown out your fears.
Your lips part, but you don't say a word.
Nothing could be put to comparison with this kind of hurt.
Seven months ago you were a train wreck, crashed and out of sight.
Before that you were slowly toddling over, but it was all alright.
You've floated from the depths of your mind to reality.
But you've come back with battle scars, for all to see.
What's worse, are the footprints trailing behind you in the sand.
More upsetting than that: you've got a story not many people will understand.