It is times like these that darken the sun and shade the clouds; it’s times like these that my eyes betray me and the demon in the mirror appears. When my façade degrades and the emptiness inside leaks out, hope becomes an ephemeral taste on the tongue. This is when my fanatical dissection begins; I first look to the long and grayed faces above me; creases fold their flesh, an itinerary of pristine grief, and I find my hands trembling with the wonder that these same aches could lurk between the events of my thoughtfully and hopefully mapped life. My eyes then drop to the shining expressions surrounding me, some glittering with unscathed naivety and others smoldering in premature grayness; they are nonetheless alien and distant. With no comfort yet discovered, I seek it in the small and rounded faces of youth. Cheeks rosy with burning excitement, smiles wide with joy; I find they too strike a deep chord of sorrow; I am too paralyzed to interact with them, for fear that the infectious scourge of grief pulsates, uniquely, through my veins, that I might somehow taint this childhood purity should a word roll from my tongue and into their ears. With no further excuse, I turn to the most familiar face of all: the demon in the mirror; I imagine the peach flesh peel away, the red lips drain of color. There can be no vibrancy here, in this place of anguish. No lover’s lips, no mother’s soft caress are to alight here, as this is the nest I have chosen for the blame. In my calcified and shattered heart, I know that I find it easier to horde the responsibility lest I impress one further line in the faces of grey or taint the untainted by sharing it. But somewhere in a deep chamber of that same heart is a well of words for all of those faces, pleads to soothe this acquired guilt that isn’t mine.