The mirror showed a reflection that wasn't my own. I stared in disbelief and horror until I couldn't stand to look anymore. I closed my eyes and shook my head, hoping that when I opened them up again, I'd recognize my reflection. I gripped onto the sink and slowly squinted them open. The face staring back at me was even more shocking this time. I let out a scream and punched the mirror with my fist as hard as I could. "Blaire?", I heard from just outside the door. "One second!", I forced out. I felt a wave of panic rush through my body. How am I going to explain a shattered mirror and bloody hand to anyone? I quickly grabbed a towel and wiped the blood smears off the broken glass. The face was finally gone. I rinsed my hand under the sink, and searched for anything to cover up the battle-wounds. I opened the cabinet underneath the sink. "Thank god", I whispered. There was a small first aid kit with a pack of Star Wars bandaids. I covered my knuckles in them, hid the bloody towel in the back of the cabinet, took a deep breath and stepped out of the bathroom, still trembling.
"You were in there alone?! I was expecting to see the walk of shame from you and Joel!" said Chelsea. I could tell how drunk, high, or whatever she was by how her eyes were half shut and how she slurred her words to me. I was relieved that I didn't have to answer any questions. She won't remember any of this. "I need to find Joel." I said as I pushed passed her. I stumbled down the hallway into a crowd of people. The music got more intense the further down the hallway I got. It felt like my pulse was syncing up with the beat, whether I wanted it to or not. The lights were darting across the room. Blue, purple, pink, green. The colors were melting into people's faces and everyone looked.. off. I kept getting lost in everyones giant pupils and creepy smiles. "This is supposed to be fun?" I thought to myself as I fought against a downward spiral. Someone grabbed my wrist and flipped me around. Joel! He yelled over the music, "Where have you been!? I've been looking everywhere for you!". "Joel, we have to go." I said in a panic. "Why, what's going on?". The more I looked at him, the more his face started to distort. He suddenly had 3 mouths, and 3 sets of eyes. He could tell I was freaked out by how I leaned back eyes wide open. "Blaire, you're tripping. Everything's okay." "Joel, we seriously need to go." He must've felt the bandaids because he lifted up my right hand, and looked at me in confusion. "Why are your knuckles covered in Yoda bandaids?". "Follow me!" I yelled. I pulled him through the crowded room in search for somewhere quiet. We found an empty bedroom and closed the door behind us. I frantically explained what happened in the bathroom. He stared at me with a soft smirk on his face as I blurted everything out. When I was done, he bursted out laughing. "Blaire! The number one rule while tripping is 'Don't look in the mirror!!'" "No, you don't understand. It wasn't like that! It wasn't the drugs!" I started to cry. I needed him to believe me. "Let's go back to the bathroom and I'll show you that it's just the drugs. I'll look in the mirror and prove it to you."
We walked back to the bathroom, I was gripping onto his hand, terrified. We went to open the door but it was locked. "I'm in here!" we heard a voice say followed by some laughs. The door opened and out stumbled Cassidy and Mary. Mary's shirt was unbuttoned and Cassidy was just holding her's wearing only jeans and a lacy white bra. "There's the walk of shame I was waiting for!" Chelsea shouted, still huddled in a group by the bathroom door. Joel and I walked in the bathroom and I gasped. The mirror was fully intact. Joel walked over to the mirror, stared, we both watched for a moment. He turned to me, "See? Blaire, you need to relax. You imagined all of this." "How do you explain my cut up hand then!?" I looked down at my hand and took off the bandaids. The cuts, gone. I flung open the cabinet door, the bloody towel was gone. I could hardly catch my breath. Joel slid down the wall and sat on the floor. He patted the tile next to me, motioning me to come sit down. He pulled me into his lap, and stroked my hair in attempt to calm me down. "Do you believe me now? Drugs can play tricks on us, Blaire. There are all sorts of stories about people experiencing things like this. Hallucinating, believing the crazy stories our minds make up. I'm so sorry I pressured you into coming with me tonight. You clearly aren't in a place to be here. I'm gonna call us an Uber. Let's go home, watch a movie, get some food in you, and wind down." "Thank you." I softly cried. "I'm just gonna go tell everyone we're heading out and say goodbye for the both of us. You stay here, I'll come get you when the Uber's here." He kissed my forehead and left. I sat for a moment, and wiped my tears. I finally felt relief. The objects around me all had a little bit of movement to them, but I could tell I was sinking more into my body. I started to believe that Joel was right. It was just the drugs. I laughed to myself. I slowly stood up, having to find my balance a bit and stumbled over the the toilet to pee. I could hear Miley Cyrus through the walls and quietly sang along. I walked over to the sink to wash my hands, looking down at my cut free hands, singing, coming back to myself. I dried my hands and glanced in the mirror. My heart dropped. He's back.
"No... no no no NO!!!" I raced for the door and swung it open. Silence. Emptiness. No one in sight. No music. No lights. A completely quiet and empty house. I felt dizzy. I slowly and cautiously walked down the hallway. "Joel?" I whimpered. I made it to the front room. Everything was perfectly in place. As if there wasn't just a massive party going on. "Joel!" I screamed. I ran for the front door. Or at least where I thought the front door was. It was gone. I ran through the kitchen, looking for a backdoor. Nothing. There was a big window above the kitchen counter, I tried to open it but it wouldn't budge. I grabbed a chair and threw it as hard as I could at the window, it bounced off and fell to the ground. Then I fell to the ground along with it, and broke down. I couldn't even begin to understand what was going on. Everything around me was still, my vision was clear, which made me think the drugs were wearing off. I didn't feel like I was on anything. In fact, I felt completely in my body. "I have to get out of here" I pushed myself up, "Where's my phone?" I patted my pockets and remembered where it was. I took a deep breath, and headed back to the bathroom.
I walked in, using my hand as a shield to block my view of the mirror. I saw my bag on the ground and collapsed, digging through to find my phone. I pulled it out. No notifications. I called Joel. It rang until it went to his voicemail. "Joel, Joel, please call me back." I called Chelsea. It went to voicemail. I called Joel again and again. "NO!" I screamed and threw my phone at the wall. The screen shattered. I turned towards the door to leave the room, but it was closed. Locked. I grabbed the handle and tried to shake it open. I was stuck. "Blaire.." I heard in a deep, soft, unfamiliar voice. "Look in the mirror, Blaire." "What do you want?? Who are you??" I sobbed. "Look. In. The mirror, Blaire." the voice demanded. I felt I had no choice. My body quivered as I turned to face the mirror. This time I saw something unexpected.
I saw myself, 2 years prior, sitting in my college dorm. I was studying with headphones on, swaying back and forth to the music, eating a granola bar, in an over-sized t-shirt and shorts. There was a knock at the door, "Coming!" I shouted. I took my headphones off, wondering who this could be. I opened the door and my best friend, Ally, shoved her way in, slammed the door behind her, grabbed a chair and put it under the door handle. "What's going on!?" "There's someone after me!" Ally cried. "What!? Who!?" I frantically asked. "A guy I've been seeing around campus for weeks now! I thought it was a coincidence, until today I noticed him everywhere I went, even off campus! He-" She was interrupted by a pounding on the door. "I know you're in there!!!" a man's voice aggressively yelled. I sputtered out "Holy shit, what do we-" "Shh!" Ally covered my mouth with her hand. "We have to go out the window." She was eerily calm. She walked over to the window and timidly opened it, as the banging on the door and shouting continued. "You go first." she said. "Ally, no you go first! He's after you!" I was so confused and disoriented by the sudden chaos I couldn't think straight. "Blaire! Go!!" she gave me a shove and I stepped out the window. I always hated being on the bottom level of the building, until now. There was only a small ledge I had to jump from into some bushes. Right as I jumped, I heard a crash and Ally's guttural scream. Then everything I was seeing in the mirror, vanished.
I stood there staring, now at my own reflection. Shocked, crying, confused. My feelings were raw. As if it hadn't been 2 years since that night. The disturbance I felt could have ripped me apart right there in that moment. The story in the mirror continued.
I saw glimpses of myself after that night just going through the motions. On the outside I looked fine and present. But I was numb and dissociated. So much so that I didn't go to the funeral. I didn't go to therapy. I didn't talk to anyone about that night. I thought if I ignored it all it would be like it didn't happen. I didn't cry, I didn't feel the loss. I just checked out of my body, and robotically moved through life. As I watched my past self in the mirror, the feelings got heavier. I had never known this sort of emotional pain that was creeping in. It took over me. My body crumbled to the cold tile in anguish.
I didn't know how I would ever feel okay again. I whaled uncontrollably. "Blaire, do you see now?" I heard the voice from the mirror say. "Why are you doing this? Make it stop! Please, make it stop!" I couldn't pick myself up off the ground no matter how hard I tried. My body felt like liquid. I was in utter despair. "To be set free, you must grieve." the voice hummed. "To be set free... you must grieve." I tried to fight off the grief, dissociate, come to, anything. I couldn't. I finally surrendered, and let it take over me.
I was suddenly jarred awake by a knocking on the door. "Blaire!! Are you in there?" It was Joel. I heard the music booming through the walls again. I lifted my head and looked around, in a state of stupefaction. "Blaire! Open up!" I mustered up the energy to stand and opened the door. I felt like a ghost. "Blaire! Have you been in here the whole time!? Are you okay!?" My eyes were swollen, and my face spotted from crying. I could tell by the look on his face that he knew I'd just been to hell and back. "Joel, I think I-" I stopped mid-sentence. Not even knowing where to begin. "Let's go home." he said.
It's been months from that night now, and I'm still somewhat haunted from it all. I still don't know quite what happened. Could it really have all been in my mind? All I do know is I feel better, lighter. I feel more connected with myself than I ever have been. My relationships have gotten stronger and more vulnerable, and I have found more meaning to life. What I learned that night will stick with me forever. "To be set free, we must grieve." Our pain, our sadnesses, our losses, will follow us no matter where we go. We can't run from them, we can't hide. The only way out of our trauma, is through. We have to be brave enough to face it, or we can't fully live in this life and it will follow us to the next. No one is invicible from grief. It will haunt you until you meet it. And if you don't want to meet it, if you're not ready, I only have one piece of advice for you. Don't look in the mirror.