It’s a Jungle in Here

Living with animals

Short stories December 9, 2007

The Mirror

The girl’s bathroom was a meat freezer for teenagers. A petite girl pulled loose curls flecked with gold behind her ears as she strived to examine herself in the defiled piece of glass, grinning widely at the stick thin blonde in front of her.

“Hey, Mini Me,” the blonde chirped in a voice so sickly sweet it would give you a cavity. She smelled like confidence and Chanel, skin shimmering with an expensive glittery lotion. Her face was masked with powders, foundations, liners, and everything in between. Tracy was merely an 8th grade girl, but nobody ever saw that side of her.

 ”Tracy!” the girl shrieked, piercing even her own ears with its high pitch. Her face flushed like a rose bursting into bloom at light speed, realizing that she really needed to practice that voice some more. Even so, she felt powerful standing next to Tracy. The two fiddled with their hair, applying layer after layer of makeup in front of the mirror, fighting to see their reflections amidst the smudges and signatures. The girl continued even after Tracy had stopped- a rare feat as she already looked like a Sephora raccoon.

 Tracy chatted idly with the girl yet failed to notice she was preoccupied. The girl’s hazelnut coffee eyes lingered on a particularly worn stall. She told herself not to think about it, knowing she was being watched. The room seemed to slow as a memory came trickling back, bitter drop after drop, acid on the cotton candy memories her mind was filled with now. Tracy’s glare made her tremble. She knew she was wondering why she wasn’t hanging on her every word. The stall was laughing at her, menacing. And that did it. A fire hose, the memory came back full blast.

Reading a paper, she sat huddled in the stall. A book as empty looking as she felt lay on the concrete floor. The girl’s pants were a circus tent around chicken legs, torso lost in an unfamiliar maze of folds and creases. She couldn’t stand sitting in that classroom full of signing yearbooks and cheery parting friends. Her eyes looked yearningly at the empty yearbook before her, imagining the name TRACY TRUMAN, the most popular girl in schools, signature. If only…

SQUEAK. The bathroom door opened and two girlish voices floated in along with the clack of heels and some very strong perfume. “…She is so ugly! Like, her pants must be from Bargain Mart. They’re about fifty sizes too big. She’s my science partner and it’s so pathetic. She actually wanted to like, be my friend. The only reason I let her be my lab partner was because she’s the only loser who can actually, like, understand what Mrs. Mannoke is saying. EWWWW!”

The girl recognized that voice.  But no…it couldn’t be. Her breathing quickened as she tried to contain the flood of emotions about to break through the dam that was her mind. She felt as if someone had stabbed her in the chest and scooped out all her insides leaving a disbelieving, hollow shell. As the heels clicked out the door she slumped against the wall. The world became immense around the tiny stall.

Teary eyed she glanced down at the paper she had lovingly clutched moments before. Partner: TRACY TRUMAN was written across the top.

A pinch from French manicured nails took her out of her stupor. “Omigod, Mini Me, it is so annoying when you space like that!” groaned Tracy, hands on slim hips. “Now, come on, you smudged your eyeliner, fix it.” The girl looked in the mirror, squinting.  Her reflection was murky in the pathetic mirror.  She lifted the pencil yet couldn’t figure out where to put it, see anything, just strange shapes and names that didn’t belong on her face. Her hands shook as she struggled to make the line and wipe away the miniscule smudge that she couldn’t even trace. It seemed almost pointless. Maybe it would just be easier to clean the mirror.  The girl was positive, underneath all the altercations the mirror had undergone, that a shimmering, natural mirror lay, reflective. It showed you as you were, not covered in other people’s graffiti. It would be so difficult to remove all of that junk. Yet it would be worth it.

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