It’s 2011 and I’m in Brooklyn, staring at the mirror. Or through the mirror. Or into the mirror. I don’t know but all I can see is myself nodding my head and shrugging my shoulders as I roll my eyes out of my head and onto the floor that’s in the mirror of myself or yourself.
There are so many dreams found in this mirror–one includes a payphone while it’s raining outside. I’m calling my dead mother…mother…mother…mother…dead.
“Hi Mom!” I shout, excitedly, jumping up and down. And there is nothing but death and I think to myself while living inside this mirror that is a dream and I thought to myself how the air is so so thick that I can use the knives I once used to try to kill myself to cut the air…or myself…or myself.
And when I hang up, the coin return slot clanks and there’s my quarter, as if it had never been used before.
I’m dreaming that I’m wondering about imagining what I had thought about years ago, when I was just a child sitting at the kitchen table, with my dead mother–so much to walk through when entering a mirror with your eyes or body or mind. She’s sighing as a distant alarm clock goes off, making a shrilling noise to remind us all that this was all just a dream in a mirror full of nothing.
I am rich. I am straight. I am white. But no matter, because the illness doesn’t care about those things, it only cares about taking over at the slightest sense of vulnerability. And it knows that I am that vulnerability, that I want to latch on to that which wants to take over me or the mirror or the dream.
“Be happy with yourself,” mother says, as I look into the mirror, wishing for larger breasts, a prettier face, and slenderer elbows, and the mirrors sighs and the dream yawns.
Sometimes I just wish I could put my head in a rucksack, sometimes I wish the mirror isn’t a dream and that the dream is real, and someone would pick up the rucksack and throw my head in a ditch full of moths and butterflies fluttering around a tin can thinking that it’s the flame of the sun.
“You have pretty green eyes and seashell ears,” my mother says, “like the ocean but they look so sad, like the ocean under a grey day.”
Thinking about then now or now then, my mother is depressed, sad, like the only reason she would leave her room was because of me. I am my mother’s daughter.
Once, a long time ago, inside this mirror, I’m in love with someone who wears flannel and thick sideburns, but he breaks up with me because of my breasts. So the mirror tells me. So it goes in the dream of glasses and windows.
Very little did I know. Very little did I know.
“You have movie star good looks,” my mother says, as she sets down a plate of pancakes in front of me. “…You’re curvy in all the right places….”
She says this so I wake up from my dream. She says this so I stop looking into the mirror. She’s dead though.
Lipstick, blush, mascara, eyeliner, shiny hair, hips, thighs, ankles, bracelets, necklaces, and all the other ways to cover my scars and memories that only mirrors and dreams are made of.
I am singing and the walls are chuckling back at me. I am singing and there’s no one listening to me. I’m so special. I’m so special. I’m so pretty.
One day I’ll be a writer and the mirror will dissolve into words that will become a dream full of nightmares for everyone to laugh at. Laugh at.
When me and my mother are talking, we don’t speak to each other for long periods of time during our conversations.
“How are you doing today?” she asks.
And there’s nothing until the sound of nothing is too overwhelming.
And then, “I…I…I….”
And there’s nothing again. Just a pause. A long pause full of eternity and crystal blue eyes.
I won’t make it, I think to myself, but my mother says, “You’re so beautiful but you don’t know it.”
And that’s how it ends. Just me, and the mirror, and a dream from which I wake up when I close my eyes.
We are all such beautiful ghosts.
Shome Dasgupta is the author of i am here And You Are Gone (Winner Of The 2010 OW Press Fiction Chapbook Contest), The Seagull And The Urn (HarperCollins India, 2013) which has been republished in the UK by Accent Press as The Sea Singer (2016), Anklet And Other Stories (Golden Antelope Press, 2017), Pretend I Am Someone You Like (University of West Alabama’s Livingston Press, 2018), and Mute (Tolsun Books, 2018). He currently serves as the Series Editor for the Wigleaf Top 50. He lives in Lafayette, LA, and can be found at www.shomedome.com and @laughingyeti.