“I’m going to kill myself tomorrow.”
I let it slip out in a whisper, not that it mattered. No one else was around to hear me, or at least I didn't think so. I looked up at the bathroom mirror, meeting the gaze of a beautiful young girl. She waved excitedly at me, her face taken up mostly by a huge smile. Her face was one I didn't recognize. There were similarities between us, but I couldn't pull any memories of the little girl to mind. The girl’s dirty-blonde, unkempt hair made me reach for my own because of the similarity. The likeness was striking, but that was explicable, right? I was certain there were plenty of women that shared in our particular hair combination. Besides, we didn't share that many other traits. Sure, the little girl had golden-brown eyes and thin lips that roughly resembled my own, but they couldn't be the same. The notion itself was ludicrous. Those eyes danced around as they looked at me. When she smiled at me, she squinted ever so slightly, lifting the corners of eyes into miniature smiles of their own. Her mouth opened wide with her smile, as though she wouldn't be able to contain the joy if she didn't. Even after her smile faded, the corners of her lips were always upturned, ready to open back up at the slightest hint of happiness.
There were no signs of pain in her face. Her eyes hadn't witnessed years of being alone, unable to connect with anyone on any sort of social level. They weren't struggling to stay open against the strength of an exhaustion due to the lack of sleep caused by the night terrors. There was no fear. There was no anxiety. They hadn't seen the things their owner would to herself in the years to come. There was no anxious looks darting back and forth, flinching at even the slightest sudden moment. Those eyes only knew an impossible hope and infinite potential.
Her lips hadn't been victim to hours of constant lip-biting, leaving permanent little indents along the bottom lip. They weren't chapped to all hell, making them almost unbearable to the touch. They hadn't known the loneliness of not being kissed in twenty-two years. They didn't know any of the ugly words that would be spoken of their owner. Those lips only knew kind smiles and sweet reassurances.
Those eyes. Those lips. The face of that little girl. None of those things were me. Not anymore. I hadn't seen this little girl in the mirror in sixteen years. I hadn't seen those eyes or those lips in so long. I touched my cheek, letting the tears hit my fingers. An overwhelming sense of shame filled my soul. What had I become in such a short amount of time? My entire body began to shake and give out. I braced myself against the counter, leaning my head against the mirror. Tears splashed in the sink as I began to sob. That little girl. That little girl just heard me tell her that I was going to kill myself. How could I do that?
“I’m s-s-sorry. I-I-I’m so s-sorry.” I could barely get the words out through the sobs and gasping for air.
I felt what I could have sworn were the fingers of the little girl running through my hair. I looked up, my eyes red and puffed out, to see her again. She was holding her hand up against the inside of the mirror, where my head had been. Her lips curled upward into a sympathetic smile, her eyes following suit. She wasn't here to judge me. She didn't want this for me. She just wanted me to be okay.
I placed my hand against the mirror against hers, and tried my best to smile through the tears. I’m sure I looked like an absolute disaster, but I tried to gather myself as best I could. I wanted so badly to hug her. I wanted to apologize for who I was and tell her that she would grow up to be better than me. She would keep her beauty. She would keep that joy. She wouldn't be afraid of the world. She would be safe.
She took her hand from the glass and made the shape of a heart with her hands in front of her chest. Her lips moved as she tried to tell me something inaudibly through the mirror. I could just make out the three words forming on her innocent lips. Three little words that I hadn't heard in forever. Three words that my entire body ached for. Seeing this little girl mouth those words to me sent sparks throughout my entire being. I felt a warmth spreading from my chest out to my fingertips. The corner of my eyes turned up for a moment as my lips twitched with excitement. I shaped my hands into a heart and placed them against my own chest, and told her something I hadn't told anyone since I was a little girl:
“I love you, too”