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  • William Iemma

Someone Else Staring Back

Moonlight filters through the listless clouds, illuminating my bedroom in a soft, gray light. It’s a rather quiet night— the midsummer crickets outside my window hum their dull, rhythmic melody, occasionally accompanied by the gentle rustling of sycamore boughs. I am sitting atop my cluttered desk, drifting slowly to sleep as I watch the summertime constellations pass behind the passing clouds. Shutting my eyes for a moment, I rise from my desk to go fetch my pajamas and head to bed. But along the way, my tired eyes catch sight of the shadow-cloaked figure standing in the corner of my room. 


In an instant, the entire world has seized. The darkened entity does not move, only matches my gaze. The crickets have suddenly fallen silent— replaced by my own pounding heartbeat. The torrents of blood and thought reach my mind, as I stand, petrified, before the figure. Every ounce of moonlight seems to coalesce upon it. Everything else vanishes from sight. The summer night air, once warm and comforting, is now frigid and heavy. 


My heart writhes beneath my chest.


The wretched cacophony of thoughts echoes through my mind as I stare at this entity. It does nothing. I cannot breathe, cannot hear anything but my heartbeat, cannot see anything but the figure. Ghosts swirl throughout my skull, haunting, warping, tearing apart every fiber of my being. Insecurities, doubts, shortcomings, anxieties, fears— whether corporeal or not, they begin to conjure within me as I stand helpless, paralyzed. Yet the shadowed abomination stares back and does nothing.


I feel hopelessly trapped— like a minotaur condemned within a labyrinth of funhouse mirrors. Unable to escape, at every turn, she slams into another invisible wall… and another heartbreaking reminder of her own wicked form. Banished to an eternal maze of self-consciousness because of a form that didn’t match her self. After so long, would she not wonder if there even was a way out of either labyrinth? Would she not begin to wonder if the mirrors were distorted at all?


As I look at the wretched, shadowy thing before me, all that looks back is a warped phantasm. Maybe the ghosts are right. I am a monster…


Tears slowly begin to blot out my vision, but the reanimated thoughts do not fade with it. The once-quiet moonlight falls behind some clouds, enshrouding the figure in darkness once more. I can do nothing but fall to my knees and weep. My breathing returns in heaving sobs, yet my mind and heart still struggle. Yet, piercing through the misery is one looping thought:


How heartbreaking it is…


To look into the mirror and see…


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