You will begin by standing upright asking them to spin the mirror with you. You will keep your eyes wide open, watch the reflections of your limbs slip and merge with each other. Taste the air as it builds the room, builds your lungs. Hold your breath and let your tongue measure the altitude of language. If you hear your friends' voices, ignore them. You aren't going to last much longer anyway.
Outside, a bird collage. The woman who witnesses it outside must see this more clearly than the people next to the mirror: the way your body creates infinity by multiplying so many times, hands drowning like oars in the mirror's whirlpool. She knows how to remove night from your hair, keep you floor bound, open stones while still smelling of fish and pearls. Like you, she was a girl once upon her time, and like a dutiful daughter, had memorized all the doors and hallways, and gathered all the windows and grey fabrics in order to grow beautiful. Sometimes her mother came back from the dead to hunt alligators. She told her that it was the only way to leave her handprint on earth. The book, like every scar, bruise and memory, pretended to disappear as soon as it touched water. But she knew better.
Like you, she had a wave shaped birthmark on her right hip. But the mirror never showed it to her, so she never knew it existed. On rainy days, she sat on her favorite armchair reading a book about two imaginary horses, wondering if they could ride away together. The book, like every scar, mistake and memory, pretended to disappear as soon as it touched water. But she knew better.
She wished she could have talked to you, tell you that a mirror, like an invertebrate, can continue to exist even as a fossil. There are many things : the sound that your heart makes is unique, even when it punishes your body. It is all so messed up, and still takes time to go numb, how we tip-toe to earth one day with our hands full of lighthouses. How we scatter ourselves in it like the tokens in a board game without stopping to rest or mourn.
(The 2017 Alice Sullivan Prize for Fiction)
B Y T I A H T U L I C
Tiah Tulic is a high school senior in New York City. She is a California Arts Scholar, and her work has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She has also attended the Iowa Young Writers' Studio at the University of Iowa. Her fiction in forthcoming in Rose Red Review and Textploit.
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