Reflection -short story
Warning: has a dark theme in it.
My nightmares are coming.
I trip through the dark alley. My hair slaps behind me. My feet slide on stone.
The quiet cracking: the fracturing of glass behind me sends fear clogging my throat. I struggle to breathe.
I grunt out a breath and increase my speed, my fists clench, my heart jolting.
If I can just get to the bridge…
I slam through the night city. In front of me, the bridge spans the river. The black, stone bridge coated in warm red. My sanctuary.
I’m six feet away.
Bits of glass nick the back of my neck, sliding through my skin. I gnash my teeth, biting back a yell. Blood slips down my back. I’m soaked in red and sweat.
I trip onto the bridge and sway, blinking away dark. One breath to stabilize my vision, and I leap onto the wood rails.
I lean forward. Far below are the dark depths of the deepest part of the river.
My adversary stalks behind me. I feel it’s power. An ice clawing for my heart. If I turn, it will have me.
My hands are shaking.
I can’t see it again. I can’t. Tears burn in my eyes. I can’t turn around. It will break me.
Instead, I look below at the water. My only chance is this escape. My only chance…
I pause, looking down. Guilt weighs on my heavy heart.
No one will miss me. Besides, this is for me. And it won’t hurt, I will only feel the pressure for a moment. Just a moment, just like a key grinding in a lock. Then, the door from this world will open, and I will have peace far from here. I can finally be free.
I push aside the thought that maybe this won’t bring me freedom. Maybe it is a lie.
My heart yearns for it even as my mind refuses, but I ignore my thoughts, and I fall from the bridge.
. . .
My body freezes midair, a foot above the water.
“No!” I thrash about. What stopped me? It won’t let me go!
Below, the water is a distorted reflection, the same as the glass I’ve tried to run from.
I see myself.
I scream, but I can’t look away. I’m held prisoner above my reflection. I can’t even close my eyes.
I’m petrified as I see myself.
My pale face is marked in black. My mistakes, my sins, etched in my cheeks, my forehead, lips and nose. The darkness swirled down my neck and arms. Every part of me is marred by every failure. My failed worth.
I’m a monster.
And something unseen is holding me back from my escape. Something new.
“Let me go!” The yell rips from my soul and comes up like fire through my throat. I try to move, to break free, but I can’t. “This is what I want!” To be free from life. An escape.
A Voice, more powerful than the stars, breathes, “No.”
This is my life. MINE. Anger coils through my heart, knotting and molding around it. “You can see who I am! Destroy me or let me fall.” I should have been chained and dropped into nowhere. My throat slit or my body hung. This river is a solace I don’t deserve. But I must escape.
“Please!” I beg. “Whoever you are, let me go!”
The wind glides across the water, sending ripples slowly by. Silence. Soft and sad.
“Free me!” I scream. “You don’t have a right to-”
“YOU ARE MINE!”
My heart almost stops. Frozen inside. I feel inferior to even breathe, but after a moment, my breath comes back, clear and strong.
“You are mine.” The Voice, thick with emotion, red like pain. “Mine.”
“You don’t understand.” As I claw the air, my body is laid on the grassy bank, but a force stops me from going closer to the river. “I’m worth less than dirt. Please, I can’t bear to see myself.” Day after day avoiding looking at myself, knowing who I am and what I’ve done, and that I can never be good, never have worth. I can’t stand it anymore.
“You are mine.”
“Are you blind? Look at me! I am a monster.” Even as I say it, I know He knows who I am. Deeper than even I know.
“You are mine.”
Why? Why is this Voice stopping me! “I don’t understand.”
My head lifts. The mirror is standing on the bridge, watching me. Fear tangles in my stomach. “Will you break it?” Would this… Being, save me from seeing myself? Would It destroy my reflection that I might have peace? It is strong enough, somehow, I know It is. It can rescue me.
I wait, breathing heavily, but the mirror stays intact.
“You see yourself as mistakes, yet I see your soul.” The Voice is above me. “I created you, and I set the value for your worth. You are mine. And though I love you, I give you the option to choose.”
I roll onto my elbows and stare at the river. “Choose?” I whisper. What’s this Voice want?
“Look into the mirror, or go to the river.” The Voice is solemn. “I will not stop you again.”
I coil my fingers between blades of grass. I don’t understand. Now the Voice will let me go? Why did It stop me before?
The Voice will let me leave, and that’s what I want. I want peace.
I stand, my feet breaking into the water.
The wind slides atop the water. I breathe in the scent of flowers in a meadow out of sight. In the distance, the night sky is being pulled back by the edges of sunlight. I am in awe of the colors. The world is still beautiful.
“No.” I hiss to myself. I’ll never be happy here. I muddy the world.
I step farther into the river, up to my ankles, to my knees and my waist. The cold water numbs me.
A bird twitters, and I turn to see the small, colorful bird sitting atop the bridge. I focus on it instead of the mirror behind it.
There is darkness in the world, from me, and people like me or worse. I sigh. But… there is good too.
I stare at the ripples, and back at the bridge at the terrible mirror.
The Voice made it sound like I have worth, even after all I’ve done. I don’t want to look in the mirror, but I don’t want to leave. I want to be better. To find a way to rid myself of my stains. To be pure.
I stare at the sky, at the starlight disappearing in purple and reds. “I have worth? Even now?” I don’t hear a response, but a force like the wind moves in my heart breaking past my chains. It feels… peaceful?
The chill and numbness of the river call to me. The muck gripping my feet, whispering to come near and die.
“No.” I slowly step away from the river.
I want to see what the Voice sees in me. I need to know that It isn’t lying, that I’m not worthless.
The water from my feet drips onto the wood. Drip. Drip. Drip. And I’m nearing the horrible mirror.
Shame, fear, and weakness shiver through my skin. A feeling like sickness punches through my stomach, and I almost vomit.
I stare at the red floorboards, inhaling, exhaling.
Swallowing, I look into the mirror.
I flinch at my reflection.
The black swirls are burned on my body. Disgusting and evil. Each mark where I failed to measure up to my standards, to the world’s standards. I am a monster.
A warm wind moves through my hair, nudging me. My shivers stop, and I focus on the glass.
I never noticed my eyes. They are wide. Huge and scared. The glow in them is like broken starlight. My eyes look human. Not quite innocent, but… but maybe not worthless.
As I stare at myself, His presence, His light, fills the air around me. My reflection changes as hues of red wash over my body. As the red mixes with the black from my wrongs, and as both colors drip, my skin is left glowing.
“You’re worth is in Me. You are mine.”