I have transformed from brick wall of smiles into mirror with cracked edges. When people look at me, they see what they want to see. They refuse to look a little deeper, to see the pain. If they saw it, then they have to deal with it. Let’s be real, no one wants to deal with each other’s pain. We’d rather stay in our fantasy worlds and pretend everything is just dandy.
I have become a mirror.
I blend into the background. I copy my surroundings. I can become invisible.
Eight out of eighteen. Overall grade: eighty-five. Four questions answered incorrectly. But we get a second chance, because it’s a pretend test. You get three tries. Outside three crows fly by, and one seagull lands on a roof. I listen to the buildings cry and try to look past the stains on the window. Students laugh around me, but I don’t hear them. I feel the air vibrate and the waves float past my hands. The laughter wraps around my fingertips and mocks me.
I raise my hand and count to seven. I put my hand back down. My vision goes blurry and my cheeks catch on fire. If I cry, my mascara will run down my face, stick into my pores, and never let go. I’ll feel the pain for weeks. I look up and turn my mind white. Count to thirty. Back down to my paper. Number four, incorrect. Grab the text book, turn to the glossary. Dry skin rubs against itself. It hurts. I have to stop. Left hand reaches for the back of my neck, where my spine juts out, and my hair covers the skin. Jagged nails dig, dig, dig, until they hit raw muscle. Wade through muscle until I hit bone. Around the bone, grasp the spinal cord, become paralyzed. The nerves stop communicating to the brain, I stop tasting the air. I stop hearing metal rust. I stop seeing atoms zip through empty space. I stop feeling every section of my skin stretching against itself.
Is that how normal people live? I don’t know if I envy you… or pity you. My world is so beautiful. It is full of florescent colors, conflicting with each other to create an explosion of light. Everywhere. What is yours like? Faded greens splashed over layers of gray?
My world is magnificent. The pain is bearable, as long as I get the glorious shine. It makes me feel alone. But that’s how I like it. My solitude never leaves me. If you had my brain for a day, you would go mad. Years and years and years have trained me to come to peace with my malfunction. I embrace it all. And in return, it will never leave me.
You have memories in images, pictures.
I have memories in fugacious smells. I can know exactly when and where they came from. It makes me sad to remember like that. You can’t draw a scent. You can’t name a scent. You can’t take a picture of a scent. All I can do is hope the memory will come back someday. But I hate to rely on hope.