Confessions of a Full-Length Mirror This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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The bright red welts on her arm
Five of them, spreading out, like the very edge of a supernova
Rise, even as they hide, beneath the sleeves of cardigans and hoodies

Spattered bruises
Colored black and blue
Purple, brown ,and yellow
Drip down her back, silhouetted, as if it were a window pane
And his fists made the sound of sweet falling rain

She shows them all to me
And only me
Every single one, every single night
As she peels her clothes off before me
Exposed and tiny in the honey-smothered light

The ritual is always the same
Every movement deliberate and devoted
Like a sacrament, like a burnt offering, her emotions eroded
The tumblers clicking as she locks her door
Become the lilting tones of a bell tower
The air is blanketed in soft-rock and female voices, saccharine-soul and acrid heartbreak
All at once – like incense, drifting in the air and sticking to clothes and hair

She slips out of her skirt like Holy water
As her blouse rises from her shoulders, it takes her hair with it
Golden and shimmering, bringing glimmering music to my nose
<i>Coconut shampoo</i>
I see a choir’s singular voice streaming to the heavens
She says <i>Sing Hallelujah</i> and breaks my heart in
One
Fluid
Motion

And suddenly, I’m surprised she’s there
Like she just appeared, alone, in her underwear
Small, scrawny, broken, beautiful, impossible
Her body darkens to the shade of a milky night sky
And all that remain are the constellations of pain splashed across her skin
And as starlight trickles from her eyes, she shines brighter than any sun ever could

I want to shatter, but I can’t
Want to disappear, but will not

Her thighs are dotted with a dozen cigarette burns
She does not smoke
A gash worsens above her right eyebrow
And handprints are branded against her breasts
Sometimes she chooses to count her bruises
Only to keep from counting how many times she’s tried to leave him
And failed to do so

Gingerly she inspects her blown-glass skin
Cracked and faded, transparent
Stretched to its limits
But still remarkable in its simplicity
In a moment she is named “breathtaking”

And in the middle of the night, as she sleeps a dreamless existence
Her sobbing fills the room, mixing with a song I’ve only heard her sing
The staccato pain mixes beautifully with the music’s rhythm and beat
Like milk and coffee swirling together in a cup
Still tasting bitter but warming your heart nonetheless, something akin to hope

Yes, all of it
She shows it all to me, in a vain attempt at solace and comfort
From beginning to end, day to night
Beneath umbrella despair and amongst tiny, shimmering pinpoints of laughter
I see it all
Me
The one person who knows what he’s done to her
And the one person who can do nothing about it

Not
One
Thing

So all I can do is reflect
And show a possible-impossible girl what she’s become
Or remind her who she’s always been
The choice is really hers to make
Because somewhere
In a tiny cathedral, drenched in incense and resounding and soaring upon wings of music
There is a girl
Who suffers in silence
Her smile belies her eyes, and her love hides the hurt, as she listens to all the passing cars
It’s really just her, a mirror, and the pain of one million falling stars





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