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Quiet Obsessions MAG
We all have our quiet obsessions. Something that grabs our eye, holds our attention, our heart. Something we can't help but look at. I'm not sure if it's because we are looking for something, or if the something is looking for us. But regardless, we all feel it. That pull, that whisper that softly beckons us. That perverted wonderment of an object. The invisible strings that bind us to the inanimate. Even in the object's absence, we feel the strings tightening, drawing us back toward it.
Those quiet obsessions vary as much as the people who harbor them. We never speak of them, but I can tell by the look in people's eyes. The way they look at stars, or a gun, or a book. The way they pause in front of a window. I recognize that look, because it's the same one I have every night.
I have a quiet obsession. I don't speak to others about it. I've always had it, but at the same time I seem to discover it anew every day. Still, I am strong. When I am around others, I can ignore it, until I am alone.
My obsession is mirrors.
Mirrors – not my reflection. I used to think that was it, but then I realized that I don't even think twice when I catch my reflection on a spoon or in the window. But when I see a mirror, my heart stops. My breath is released. And there is only a mirror. One mirror in all the world. Beyond the edges of the mirror is nothing, but I am content to live in the mirror.
I suppose it began when I was a girl. My mother would sit me up by her vanity and brush out my curls each night. And she would whisper these stories about magic mirrors. As I grew, so did the obsession. I would sit for hours in front of the bathroom mirror and just stare. Eventually, I would move, and I'd watch as the girl in the mirror did too. I'd feel control.
The girl was my puppet. I had the power to help and hurt her. I could make her laugh. I could dress her up and make her beautiful. But that wasn't what made me powerful. I could cut off her hair. I could strip her naked. I could make her cry. I could make her bleed. I thought I had the power, but really it was the mirror. Because without it, I had nothing.
The obsession deepened when I bought a full-length mirror. I'd press my body against it and feel the cold glass blending with the warmth of a body. I would take in everything about myself. Every perfection, every flaw. The mirror told me things no one else would. It revealed myself to me, and for the first time, I was introduced to me. The mirror was the sum of me. The truth of me. And that's when the mirror became God.
I got a hand mirror. I would stand in front of the bathroom mirror and hold the hand mirror just below my eyes. Then I would stretch my hand from my reality to the next. I would reach through myself, touching different times. And in it were boundless spaces people said did not exist.
The worst of it was when I woke at night. I would stand in front of the mirror, waiting for it to speak. It never did, but I was patient. After 150 nights of looking into the mirror, it did. It said, “Look closer.” After that, I was captive. Every free moment was spent in front of the mirror, listening, looking.
The end began at the carnival. On a rare outing, I went to the traveling carnival. I just sat and watched people until I heard someone comment on the mirrors at the fun house. I leapt up and my heart pounded. I called out to the mirrors and they led me to them. Frantically, I made my way through the fun house, stumbling toward the voices of the mirrors. I tripped into the room.
My eyes met a sight that would haunt what was left of me. I stood looking into a warped mirror. I was short and fat. When I began to back away, but I backed into another mirror. Spinning around, I gasped; this mirror showed me with a swelled head and virtually no body. I began to run, the mirrors taunting me. Images flew by – tall, lean, pear-shaped, upside down. Finally, the last and largest mirror showed the ever-familiar reflection. I screamed loudest then, because I no longer believed it was true.
That night, standing in front of the mirror, I knew fear for the first time. The mirror's honesty had been faulty. How could I know what I was looking at was real? How could I know I was real, if the mirror was the only one who confirmed it, and the mirror was really a liar?
I stared into the mirror, and it laughed. I screamed and threw my head against it. Cracks like in ice split it, breaking my image into fragments. I gasped. I finally recognized myself. In the shards. In the broken places. Pieces fell into the sink, and I still saw my reflection in them. Every perfection and every flaw. With shaking hands, I picked up one. The mirror, mocking me, said one last thing. It was something I knew was true through the years. It was a truth so impactful it would fuel a quiet obsession for over a decade.
The mirror said, “Careful, child, glass is sharp,” as I dropped the bloody shard back into the sink.