Man in the Mirror
His grin, that’s the worst part. It was both alien and familiar; a poorly drawn self portrait. It was too perfect to the point of being unsettling. I couldn’t find a flaw if I tried. What’s worse, I had always loved smiles. Especially my fathers, both reassuring and optimistic. People would always remark how much I resembled my father; if only they could see me now.
“Well of course there’s no such thing as killing. I mean, there are accidents, but these things will happen, that is the fate set by the Creator”, spoke the phantom hiding in the mirror.
“But what about all the people who would have lived in my world? How could you, I mean me, or whatever, exist? Wouldn’t a whole different set of people exist? I mean what about the butterfly effect? How do you have radar and rockets, and have you guys ever been to the moon! That was all the cold war and Kennedy… hey, what about Kenedy! He must have…”
“Whoa nelly! Calm down there me”, as he snuck in a quick wink, “I guess what they say about us is true; we really are curious!”
I don’t like ‘us’, it’s unsettling. With any other man, I would have punched him right in his smug face. Honestly though, I could hardly move if I tried. I took a short breath and thought for a second. “Well if you think like me then you know what I mean. How is this possible?”
He, me, whatever, paused and gave a slight smile, “Well I think you see what you want in this other world, whatever is comfortable I mean. We could even look like completely different people. Instinct tells ‘us’ that we’re the same in spirit, if not body. We’re pretty clever you know. Do you know what I mean?”
Dammit, none of this makes any sense. But I mean if he gets what’s going on then why don’t I? This is so damn confusing! Finally I sighed, “You know what, I don’t even give a fuck. Who cares how this works. I’m still not 100 percent convinced i’m not crazy”
“What does ‘fuck’ mean?” he said quizzically.
God dammit. I practically screamed, “Oh please don’t tell me you guys never swear either! Fuck damn shit hell cocksucking motherfucker!”
“I know mother”, he said proudly.
Exasperated, I groaned, “Well what about hell and damn? You seem like a fairly pious bunch. There’s no way you haven’t heard those words. ”
“No… none of those sound familiar.” suddenly slipping back into his quizzical stare.
No. This can’t be true. There’s no way he doesn’t know all the words we are supposed to be ashamed of. Dammit none of this makes sense! Are our worlds really so different? But, maybe they are. Maybe they don’t know, can’t know, these words. Maybe I’m trying to see what I want, the better part of things. No, I’m too pessimistic for that. At least there’s something I know for certain.
What is its about me, him, whatever that is so surreal. It’s like there’s a single puzzle piece missing from the grand picture; nearly complete yet unsatisfying all the same. I think gradually, I can figure this whole thing out. It’s becoming clearer now, on the tip my tongue… Finally the reality set in, slowly things became sickeningly clear. Quietly, with a tinge of fear, i spoke, “Do… do you know sin?”
He Laughed, catching me off guard. “You’re messing with me! Man, I should’ve know I’d try something like that. There’s no way you have words that I don’t. Man it really is true; we sure do love to mess with people!”
Speechless, the seconds strolled by. I saw his expression change once again from joy to query. He is the same person as me, but we could not be more different. His world was a paradise, and mine is a shithole. A virtual antithesis to his impossible utopia. This is such bullshit! This is some sort of sick joke! I mean he said we like messing with people. No, the sincerity was palpable, undeniably innocent.
A rage from deep within burst forth. Screaming in what was nearly pain, I tore into this guy, “How!? How are you so perfect!? You have to comprehend this! Sin! The act of evil! All that is bad, the horrors of humanity! How can you be this way!?”
“Well, I can’t help it. Anything else is unthinkable. I don’t think I could ‘sin’ if I tried”, he smiled still drowning in his innocence.
There it was, the sick sweet truth. He isn’t better than me! His world may be an Eden, but it is undeniably a prison. A grin crossed my face, both alien and sickeningly familiar. My sin kept me free.
It was time for me to laugh. I carried on a bit too long honestly. It was both terrifying and refreshing. I even think I scared that little punk a bit. Hot damn that’s satisfying. I sputtered through the cackles, “You know what, you can keep your pious bullshit and your fucking eden! I wouldn’t leave here for anything; I’m a free man here!”
“That’s wonderful!”, he said.
God dammit. Whatever, I’m too excited to get pissed off at his optimism. Still, like a splinter ignored for too long, I felt a sudden sudden prick deep in my psyche. Man, I’m getting sick of this fucker. “What do you mean?” I asked, exasperated.
“We love seeing people happy, deep down you know that! As long as you are at peace, I can be happy for you!”
“How can you be okay with that? I mean being a captive to yourself and your ‘Creator’ that ‘loves’ you so much? I know you understand me, I can see it your smug fucking eyes!”. Shit, did I just insult myself? I mean, that is me, I guess. Whatever, he won’t understand anyway.
Still with that fucking grin he retorted, “He gives me love, unconditional and liberating! I do have free will you know.”
“Oh really?”, I said, confidence returning. “You said you couldn’t fathom my concept of sin, that means you’re ‘creator, is holding you back!”
“No, I’m free to do as I please. Look at it this way, if you got a brand new car, would you crash it just because you could? Why would ruin something perfect?”
Fuck, he’s figured this sin thing out pretty quick. Well all that means is I’m obviously very clever, a straight up mental badass. I’ll figure this bastard out. Shit, I probably shouldn’t think of him, me or whatever, that way.
“Well, I mean at least I could if I wanted to for whatever reason! That’s what makes life so exciting. I mean, when I pop some pills my body gets a beating but I get high as fuck! You’ve probably never even felt the rush, the ecstasy, of danger.” Man, I’ve got this guy pinned.
“Yes, I know about these pills. I can tell when we take them. I ignore the sensation though, because I have the choice to!”
“Ha, that is some ignorant sh..” Wait a second… Confused and terrified, I blurted. “What the fuck do you mean… you know when I get high!? What the fuck is going on here! Can I affect you, your world and whatever? There’s no way… Who the fuck are you!”
“I’m you. You should know by now, but maybe you’ve ignored me for too long.”
The smile was gone. Deep down that racked my soul in a way unfathomable. “No.. no, no no no… what the fuck is going on!? God fucking dammit what the fuck! Just… WHO ARE YOU!? explain yourself motherfucker!” Insults flowed to freely now.
“I’m you, but it’s becoming clear now that you are no longer me. You haven’t been for a very long time. Still you visit from time to time, so I know you exist. I still keep the hope, and follow the perfect path you made for me, since the very beginning.”
I tried to run, tried to scream in a rage but something was wrong. I don’t think my body can anymore. I whispered, “You can’t be… are, are you my soul?”
A slight chuckle, comforting. “No, him and I do not get along. I’m your conscience. I am all that is all that you know is good, I have reached out to you our whole life. But like I said, you see what you want here. You saw my ignorance to ‘sin’ as a weak, but it’s becoming clear to us now. You know ‘sin’ quite well, it seems comfortable to you.”
A wave a panic rushed to me but found no anchor, I was too stunned. Reality was too vague now. I forced the words past my empty lips, “Why… now?”
“I think deep down you know. Look in yourself, tell me what you see.”
No, I won’t. I fucking won’t. Fuck this guy! No, no I’m not going to look! Fuck… FUCK! A new phantom is walking towards me from just out of my field of vision. He’s undeniable, I don’t know how, but somehow I knew. Truth was unmistakable.
Suddenly Truth is wrestling my mind down. It’s futile now, I know it… no… fuck no I won’t let him! Shit, he’s strong. I can barely fight it, I’m more tired than I know. Truth moves closer as I struggle less and less. Finally, angry lips whispered into my ear, “It was too much this time, a pill to many. You are going to die.”
I cried absent of tears. My mind sobbed, screaming throughout my whole being. Panic finally overcame me. My knees buckled and the world moved so slowly that it tore at my sanity. Violently my eyes returned to the mirror. He had taken a step back, and the panic turned into soul crushing pain. More than my conscience can take. I begged with my eyes for words of comfort and my last words struggled in less than a whisper out of my whole body, “I am dying. help me, please!”
Quietly my conscience spoke, “I wish I could, but I can’t find the words. You have ignored me so long that I no longer know. I’m not strong enough to carry you with me… fall softly”
more by BEN SHEARER
Photograph by Sean DuBois