Angel

Posted: September 13, 2011 in Fiction

It stinks of stale bodily waste in here. The polluted atmosphere has corrupted the room itself. Tiled walls that probably used to be white are as yellow as a chain smoker’s grin. The grout has gone black. The single bare bulb dangling from the ceiling casts the only light, and even that feels dirty. There’s a stall with a toilet, but I won’t even look there. I think very hard about anything other than what’s built up on the faucet knobs of the cracked sink as I turn on the water. There’s a bar of soap in a dish, but it looks like the Exxon-Valdez crashed and spilled on it. I turn the water to as hot as I can stand. It scorches my hands, and I splash it on my face. The burning helps. Anything to keep me out of my own head. I turn the water off and brace my hands on the edge of the sink. I stare into my own face in the mirror.

Graffiti etched in the glass dissects me like a butcher’s diagram, but I can barely see it. All I see is the leering mask of a monster. My heart pounds so hard I can hear it in my ears. I clench my teeth. The reflection snarls at me. I howl and slam my fist into the glass. Cracks instantly leap from the point of impact, splitting the graffiti and the face of the man in the mirror. I leave my fist pressed against the broken glass. A rivulet of blood creeps down the mirror, diverting and splitting when it hits the fresh cracks. From within the furnace of anger in me, a snarky though leaks out: this shithole is filthy, and now it’s getting into your blood.

I lean forward and my forehead thumps into the glass. My bleeding hand resumes its position on the edge of the sink. The only sounds are flies buzzing and my labored breathing. Water is still trickling down my face, dripping from my nose and chin. I close my eyes. The sound of flies fades away. My hand starts to hurt. My knuckles throb in time to the beat of my heart. A crackling sound comes from the mirror. I open my eyes. The cracks are retreating back into the point of impact. Almost like it’s healing. I jerk my head back. Even the graffiti is un-writing itself. It’s the sound of unrolling plastic wrap. The mirror begins to glow as the patina of cracks disappears entirely. The glow intensifies, and light pours out of the mirror, scorching away the grime. I want to turn, to run away, but I’m transfixed.

“You are stronger than you think.” It’s a soft, feminine voice. It seems to come from everywhere at once. The mirror dims, and eyes like polished sapphire stare back at me. Skin as white as the light it radiates. Hair, long and flowing and so black that no light escapes it. “You have a demon inside you, and it is worse than most, but you can beat it.”

“Who – ?” I fail to form a complete question.

“I’m here to help you. I know you. You feel that you have done so much wrong that you can never do right again. You feel helpless. You are frightened and hurt and angry.” She reaches a hand through the glass. The mirror ripples like a pond. She places her hand on my cheek. It burns, but somehow it does not hurt. I open my mouth to speak again. No sound comes out. Tears well up in my eyes. She gazes at me. Smiles at me. “It’s okay to feel the way you do. The world is scary and painful. However, you are not helpless. You inspire others. You give people hope. They believe in you.” Her other hand reaches out, and she holds my face. She pulls me close. Her lips brush mine as she speaks again. “Forgive yourself. Know that in your darkest hour, I still have faith in you.” Each touch sends electricity through me.

The light goes out, leaving spots in my eyes. The sound of flies buzzing fills the dirty bathroom once more. The smell is back with a vengeance. I wince. I look at my hand. No blood. The mirror is clean. Undamaged. That happened. At least, I’m fairly sure it did. My face tingles with the memory of touch. I feel, well, not okay. Nothing could ever make it okay. But I feel like I can go on. I turn toward the door.

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