I’m lost in a funhouse mirror maze, the kind you see at a carnival. I’ve finished my funnel cake and it sits low in my belly. The powdered mess across my face and skirt. At first I smile at my distorted views. I’m excited to get through the maze. I underestimate the mirrors power, though. The glass feels cold against my hands. How many people have walked this path? Did they get out safe? They must have. Silence greets my ears. My heels click along the floor. This way and that.
The lights dim and my smile fades. I’ve been in here longer than I wanted. I should have found my way out by now but I somehow end up at the beginning. I touch the glass expecting a coolness to find its way inside, calming me. Instead heat surprises me and I turn another corner careful to keep my hands clear.
The scream gathers in my throat and I stare at my thousands of faces. Silence still echos. The scream slowly dies inside my head, never voiced. No one would hear.
I’m alone with my thousands of selves. I reach in my purse and slather on vanilla mint lip balm. I begin to make smears along the heated glass as I walk. I can no longer meet my gaze in the mirrors. Humiliation and fear mix with my funnel cake and threaten to erupt from me in glorious fashion.
I chance a glance at my face, at my eyes. The tears are hiding in there just waiting for the right moment to betray me. Where is my salvation? Who will save me?
My heels slow along the floor. What if I stopped right here? My thousands of selves nod. I look at my bare neck and naked finger. No one will save me.
No one will save me from myself.
I want desperately to leave this place. It was only fun in the beginning. But I’ve been lost with all of myselves for longer than I wanted.
My histrionics turn to hysteria. My brain begins its betrayal and my eyes fill with salt. My toes pinch. I sit down and slowly remove my shoes. The tears are plump as they splatter.
I notice the bruises along my legs. The lights dim even more. Eventually the darkness will take over. I must get out before the darkness takes over.
I gather myself, picking up speed. Shadows form behind me in the mirrors.
Am I running to myself or from myself? It occurs to me that I can barely see myselves in the mirrors anymore.
I’m forced to touch the mirrored walls. The heat seers my fingertips.
I feel like I’m melting. I’ve never been more alive, more terrified than I am right now.
This moment with the lights dimmed and the walls catching on fire behind me, the bruises slowly covering my body, I watch myselves, my thousands of selves fade.
The glass begins to pop and shatter. If I stand very still, if I only gather tiny breaths then the devastation will settle around me.
If I’m brave enough, I’ll wait.
I’ll wait for the shards to settle. I’ll wait for the fire to smolder. I’ll wait for the light.
Am I brave enough to be still while the thousands of myselves destroy each other in a mix of fire and fear?
I hope so.