Sunday 30 June 2013

Girl in the mirror

By Lisa Rapley

Looking in the mirror was never a nice experience.

Flaws glared like neon lights in Times Square – the pimples, the fat roles and even the scars would shine bright as if they were lit from behind. No matter what she did, the brightness of each would continue to shine, almost blindingly. All in front of the mirror.

Following her reflection, she tugged and twisted at her top to make it sit better against her jeans. Alas, the reflection was just as bad as the real deal and this was as good as it was going to get for the day.

Turning away from the metallic glass, she grabbed her backpack and walked out the door.

Dashing through the rain to the high school, she made it inside just as the downpour started.

At least she missed that, she thought, the rest was just a bit of water – what did it matter?

Matter it did. She caught her reflection in the glass – hair plastered to her face from damp, making her look like a drowned sloth. Fantastic.

As she moved through the corridors, she felt the eyes on her, following as she passed classroom after classroom. She could feel the stares piercing her back, as if they had nothing else to look at.

She'd never liked school. She was intelligent, yes, but all she wanted was to get through classes, be invisible and return home again. All the while agonising about what could possibly happen the next day.

There really were no good reasons for them to target her. It had just happened that way. She contemplated whether it was because her estranged father was the town drunk or maybe because her mother made a name for herself at the local casino.

Neither would explain the actions of teenagers. Sure, parents gossip to other parents and children overhear. But was it enough for an entire class to wage a coherent attack on one measly high school girl? Dubious.

Sidling into her seat in English class, she suddenly had an overwhelming feeling everything was going to go wrong today.

And then it started.

Reverberating against the walls, the fire alarm began ringing loudly though the halls and classrooms.

The class began packing up their things and filing out the door. The teacher yelling for them to go slowly and not push.

She shoved her notebook back in her satchel and trudged towards the door, joining the throngs of students heading towards the exit.

As she neared the door to exit the school building she caught a whiff of smoke. Something actually was on fire. Then she heard the piercing sirens wailing through the streets to the school.

Catching a few bits of chatter from students, she heard 'chemistry' and 'explosion'. Possibly not the best thing to happen, she thought.

As she walked down the steps, the firemen were heading in the other door, fire-hose already connected and ready.

The pavement was wet from the downpour and the leaking fire-hose, with pools of water forming underfoot. Students were mulling around waiting for direction from the teachers.

She maneuvered to the edge of the group, trying to get away from so many people.

Suddenly she felt her feet disappear from underneath her, landing hard on her back in a giant puddle of water.

Students began giggling and pointing at her. Nobody rushing forward to help her up.

And that's when the jeering began.

“Haha, what an idiot.”

“What a fat freak.”

“Well, that's awkward,” one girl said with a sneer.

Even an “oink, oink”, from one of the soccer guys.

She looked down at herself, her jeans were soaked and covered in dirt, and she could feel the pain growing in her backside.

As she started to get up her classmates laughed even harder. A few even snorting.

You're the real pigs, she thought. Never brave enough to actually insult any of them back.

Brushing the dirt off her hands on her jeans, she picked up her bag, testing which parts of her body hurt the most – her right ankle was quite tender to put any weight on.
And her fellow students continued to laugh.

Finally the principal appeared, ordering them to gather and be quiet.

He looked towards her with exasperation, noticing her soaking wet clothes.

“There was no reason to go jumping in puddles, Isabel,” he said.

She looked at him, incredulous, as hot tears began rolling slowly down her face. Before anything could get worse, she pivoted on her heel and ran.

Arriving home she headed straight to her room, successfully avoiding her mother.

Looking in the mirror she saw everything, all her imperfections, the wet and muddy clothes. They just glared at her. The insults were firing through her mind, matching with each flaw she saw in herself.

How can a few simple taunts make her so upset? They shouldn't mean anything, those people don't know her, they're the idiots.

Yet, the insults happen everyday, whether she embarrasses herself or not. It is a constant barrage. And the principal! She had no one at that school.

Anger swelled inside her and she lashed out, punching the mirror. It cracked, shards of glass spearing themselves in the soft carpet.

Pulling her fist away she sees tiny scratches on her knuckles with blood seeping out. She touches the cuts gently, they sting a little.

Sitting down on her bed, she sees the pieces of glass jutting out of the carpet, an idea forming in her head.

It wouldn't be such a bad way to go, she thinks. There would be no more jeering or feeling left out. Everything would be over.

She picks up a piece of fallen glass and with swift precision brings it down on one wrist and then the other, carving deep gashes through her skin. She watches as blood seeps from her veins and drips slowly onto the glass strewn floor.

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