Marcus in the Mirror

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The illusive waters beyond the window churn and collapse on themselves just as they had before. Yet this is different. After six months, the ship slices through the water towards the west. We are homeward bound. I want to feel excited. I should be excited. About seeing her again, at last. But something feels wrong.
I get up from the bed, walk to the middle of our room. I find myself alone, staring into a full-length mirror. I gaze at myself. At me. At who I am.
The ship rocks back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The waves rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and fall. Every drop of water is constantly moving. The past drops are replaced by the present ones. What you think you see in one area of water changes in a flash, into what you did not see before.
My image begins to change in the mirror. It’s subtle at first, yet my eyes do not deceive me. My face melts into the form of which is another person.
I look in the mirror and I see Marcus. Marcus. The mirror is only a reflection. Yet it is still me. It is still me. The eyes burn through me. They find fear and yank it from the back, to the surface of my mind. He raises his hand into the air, furious anger in his face. I raise my child’s hand to my face to block the blow, as if I was that child. Yet the child’s hand, though currently mine, is not my own. For I am not the child. I soul shakes with a realization that floods all that I hoped in in black. I am Marcus. No matter how much you try, you cannot escape who you are. I cannot escape him. I am Marcus. My hand comes down on the child.
I bolt upright in bed, cold sweat covering my face, breathing heavily. Joe leans over the edge of his bunk, staring at me sideways. He clearly never took off his uniform last night. “You okay Danny-boy?” he asks, concerned. I don’t answer at first.
“Yeah. I’m just, you know, nervous,” I lie.
He smiles sympathetically before having his head retreat to the top bunk. “Don’t worry. We’re all nervous about what can happen. Just focus on what else can happen. Think about when you’ll head home to a hero’s welcome. And I’m sure your girlfriend will be waiting too. What was her name again? Didn’t it begin with an ‘A?’ Anyways, she’ll definitely be waiting there for you.”
Ignoring Joe, I grab her portrait from under my pillow. I gaze longingly at it. Then, I shove it into my pocket, knowing what I have to do. I get out of bed, get my uniform on, and walk up to the deck. The sun is still sunken beneath the endless void of black. I snatch the portrait from my pocket, and throw it as far as I can into the ocean before I change my mind.
As if on cue, the siren goes off, loud enough to wake the entire ship, signaling that one of the enemy warships has been caught on radar.
I stare out over the sea, where the sun still refuses to show its face.
“Yes,” I say to myself. “She will be waiting.”






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