Discover more from St. Sinjin
TW: References to suicide/overdose/abuse/other adult topics
Note: Esor is pronounced: ESS-er
We are a ritual, her and I, morning, noon, night. We recite each other's movements. If her right eyebrow raises, so does mine, if she frowns, so do I, this is what we do, and what we have always done, my Main, and I, her Reflection.
We have grown together, changed together, healed together. We fret over the marks on our face, brushing our fingertips over it. We sigh. We angle our face and grin again.
That's my favorite thing to do, smile.
That's what we did when we officially met. Of course, We have been together since our beginning, but we were so young, we have no memory of our beginning. We were about five when we remember meeting and it was at a rain puddle. I had looked up at her through the warbled glass of water and we had laughed at how we looked, muddled and smeared, like the canvas of a finger paint, and there we were, Rose and Esor.
Now, we stared at each other.
I never noticed how dark our eyes had gotten. They were still hazel, but they had lost their glow, like when it's a cloudy day and the world loses its hue.
We furrow our eyebrows at each other. We lean in, examining our faces. We pull away from each other, hands on the brim of the sink. We click our tongues, and comb our hair back. Something comes undone. I look away from Rose to see a mass of black hair in my palm. We stare at each other in the mirror. Our eyes brim with tears.
The door clicks open and I can't see Rose, looking at the bathroom wall instead.
I hear the clatter of pills behind my head. Rose whimpers as her fingers rove through the shelves.
"Stupidstupidstupid," she hisses through her teeth. She shuts the medicine cabinet closed. I brace against the mirror. The tremors recede as I watch her messy bun dip out of the bathroom. Leaving me to stare out at disheveled towels, messy floor, emptiness.
"Have you been here all day?"'
I straighten my back at the sound of the door closing behind Theodora, or Theo, my Relative, the Reflection to Rose's sister, Dorthea. She sniffs as she pads past the kitchen table, rubbing her eyes.
"Yeah," I reply. I look up at Theo. Her eyes are puffy.
I ask, "Have you been crying?"
Theo doesn't look to me. She opens the fridge door, staring at the luminous void. I notice that she has gotten tanner, her skin bronzed. I stand up and peel her sleeve back to see the tan-line, and notice how ghostly I am compared to her. I furrow my eyebrows.
I say, “Did you go to the beach?”
“Yeah, I went with Avon and Neleh,” she says to the fridge. She rolls her shoulder to get her sleeve away from me.
“We love the beach,” I mutter. I look down at Theo’s hands. She is flexing her hands.
I take a step back, leaving a tile of linoleum bridge between us, “Did they say why Rose wasn’t there-,”
Theo slams the fridge door closed. The bottles and I jolt. Her smudged reflection on the metallic surface shows nothing. Her shoulders shift as she collects herself, tucking hair behind her ears, and easing her breath. She turns her head to the right, but doesn’t look at me.
“You know we can’t hear them talk when we are in the water, they get too warbled,” she spits.
That’s right, Reflections do have trouble hearing their Mains over ripples.
I see the muscles in her arm are tensed. So are the ones in her jaw.
“I am sorry, Theo,” I say, apology awkward on my tongue. I look down at the linoleum. I flex my toes, picking at the floor..
“You’re sick,” Theo whispers.
I see an eye shining down on me. A tear runs down her cheek. She bows her head to wipe away the tears.
I swallow. Bile coats my tongue. My stomach sinks.
I say, “Who’s sick?”
“Rose,” Theo croaks, she turns to me and looks me over. Her lip shakes and she bites it down.
Theo drags her hands across her face. I notice the pin pricks of blood rising under her eyes from the friction of hands rubbing away. Theo sniffs. She looks at the floor between us. Her shoulders sink.
I say, “What are you talking about?”
Theo pulls me in. Her body convulses against mine. Her finger tips press against my ribs. She perches her chin on my head. I hear her heart buffet against my ear, filling me with her existence. My fingers twist into at Theo’ shirt, her prognosis echoing in my head. Theo combs through my hair in sluggish motion, her fingertips drifting on snags.
She bundles a clutch of hair in her hand as she says, “Rose overdosed.”
My stomach tears open to a hole that swallows my guts. My knees buckle but I steady myself. I press my hand against the pit. Butterflies flutter against it.
“Mom and Dad’s found her -”
I look at the tiles between Theo and I.
“Right here,” Theo says.
My eyes drift to see the knife block on the counter, by the fridge.
In the corner of my eye, Theo nods her head.
I remember when we first fell in the kitchen. Dad had told us to take off our fuzzy pink socks and we disobeyed, slipping and falling onto our backs. We had laughed at each other in the muddled reflection of the fridge, our breath fogging around the magnetic letters.
I think of the pulp of hair in my hand. I think of how our eyes were so dark you had to focus to see if they truly belonged to a person. I think of the rustle of Rose searching through the pills.
“She’s in a coma,” Theodora says. “That’s why we went to the beach.”
“Two days,” Theo says.
I’ve been here for two days?
I close my fist around the fabric of my shirt.
“She might not wake up,” Theo whispers.
I think of the weight we lost.
I look down at the tiles.
I think of her hands missing the knife.
I think of her laying alone on the linoleum.
I haven’t moved in two days.
“I gotta help her,” I mutter.
I turn to the kitchen door.
“Esor,” Theo says. Her voice is sharp, a horrible mix with the metal doorknob against my hand. Fingers press against my wrist. I tense.
I think of the knife again.
Theodora’s voice rises, “What do you expect to do?”
I exhale. My mouth is stale. No words form.
But a thought does.
I straighten. I look out the kitchen window.
“I’m going to be a Glimpse,” I say.
Theodora’s fingers press against my veins.
“Theodora - you’re hurting me,” I say. Theodora stares at me. Her face is pale. Acid coats my tongue. I look at our hands. My skin is white underneath her fingers. My pulse buffets against them.
“Theodora,” I whisper, “Let go of me.”
“I can’t let you,” she whimpers. Her face gleams with tears again.
Theodora shakes her head.
“You can’t leave, Esor,” she says.
She lets go of my hand. I buffet the door. I feel for the doorknob. My fingers press against and turn.
She doesn’t say anything. She watches me try it over and over again with heavy lidded eyes.
“Theo, what are you doing?”
“If you go out there, all alone, you will make Mains go crazy,” Theodora says. She isn’t looking at me still. Her lips pulled into a frown.
“What do you expect me to do, just let her go?”
I find the sliver needed to undo the lock. I slide the nail of my index finger into it. Theodora claps her hand over mine as it starts to turn. I struggle under her grip. She doesn’t move off of me. Theodora’s eyes meet mine.
“I want to see her, Theo,” I say. I pull at my hand. Skin melds against skin. My hand pushes a little under her palm, but doesn’t escape. Theo just presses harder. I wince. My face wrinkles. I pull. My shoulder arches as I do. My socked feet slip on the linoleum.
“Who told you?”
I hear the floorboards creak over our heads.. I pull again. Venom is foaming in my mouth. I pull and pull. My bones ache. I pull. It was a trap. Theodora set it. I think of how quiet she was when she came in, how she wouldn’t look at me.
She didn’t see what she looked like in me.
I throw my head an inch in front of her face, “I can’t see my Main? That’s the last time I see her - pulling out our hair and grabbing pills? That’s all I get after all this time?”
“Yes,” she says, her eyebrows bend inward in pity. “Yes. I’m sorry, Esor, but that is how you go. It’s not going to be beautiful. It’s not going to be what you want. But it is how its supposed to be!”
The steps give under Dad’s weight one by one. I pull, bracing against Theo to break away. The unlocked door brushing against my back, making my elbow ache more.
Just one pull. Please.
“Stop this, Esor! Stop it. You are going to get Shattered. We are just trying to protect you!”
“No. You don’t, if she dies, I do too! Let me go!”
I rake my hands underneath her palm. She wrenches out and peels away from me.
“How dare you!”
I point at Dad’s silhouette at the end of the hall. Tears are washing over my eyes but I still can still make him out. I point at him. I grit my teeth, daring him to move. I can feel his eyes on me, studying how my shoulders heaved. How my cheeks burned, how my jaw was clenched, and how I was pointing at him.
“Esor-please, you don’t know what you are doing - you’re going to Shatter-,”
Red catches my attention.
Theodora is holding her scratched hand. Blood is steaming between her fingers. She leans in. Tense now that Dad is watching.
Reflections imitate the life they share. But they are not that same person.
The mirror divides us.
I look at Dad.
He doesn’t move. He stands in the hallway. His build almost brushing both walls.
I look at Theodora. Her eyes searching for something in me.
“If We make it, I never want to see you,” I say.
Theo’s eyes widen. Her chin shakes. She grits her teeth. She pulls her hand close to her chest. Dad takes one step in the hallway.
I grab her wrist.
I look into her eyes.
“Get out of this house.”
She furrows her eyebrows at me, “Esor?”
“Get out, Theo. The door’s unlocked,” I whisper.
I feel her eyes on my back as I open the door and pad out of the house.
A Glimpse is a trait all Reflections share. It is the ability to move without your Main. We become the figure that disappears when you turn your head, the idea that you recognize someone before they evaporate into a crowd, we are like the strangers you see in dreams, that is a Glimpse.
There is a history of Glimpses making people go crazy, however. So Reflections must be careful when attempting this feat. If anyone was to see me, the Main family I belong to perhaps, while Rose was still asleep - I would be Shattered, and a new Reflection would be created.
I take off my shoes and let the sand encompass my heels. I look out at the horizon. It is hard to determine what is river and what is sky.
I peel off my shirt. The brine-y air sticks to my abdomen. The murk coats my tongue, soothing my empty stomach.
We believe that Water is the first Reflection. It kept the Sky company while the rest of the world was coming together.
There is a belief that Reflections attempting to Glimpse, use a body of water to pass through to the Main world.
Thunder growls. I feel the tremor ripple under my feet. The river hushes on, its waves toiling over the shore as if comforting it.
Mud suckles at my toes as I enter the water. It is icy against my legs.
Thunder mumbles. The wind raises its voice, upsetting the trees, who shake their leaf heavy heads in protest. Goosebumps twist into my wet skin. I brace against the breeze, tucking my shoulders into myself, I wince as my fingers tick my shoulders. I flex them to shake off the memory of my last time in the house.
My skin stings in the bristled air. I pull harder into myself. I look back. The trees swing their heavy leafed heads under the growing wind, adding chatter to the thunder.
“I have to,” I say to them all. The trees rustle on, as if taking my words into consideration.
I roll my shoulders. I inhale. Thunder snarls, warning me, Dad in the hallway.
I close my eyes.
“For Rose,” I whisper before pushing out of the mud and running into the river, diving into the water once I can’t run anymore. It slaps the air out of my chest. I grit my teeth and exhale through the nose, the air burning my nostrils. I churn against the steely water, tucking my cheek as I breast stroke toward the horizon, until I think I won’t be able to wade anymore.
I close my eyes and dive under, letting the icy world envelope me. I open my eyes and see a monotonous world. Thunder rolls, muffled under the bristled waves. Lightning peels through the dark, illuminating the bodies of fish that watch me. Below us is the darker river bottom. I push down, digging through the depths, my fingers dragging with every scrape.
A dorsal fin sweeps over my elbow. I look to see a trout shudder away, disappearing in the mercury.
Did she do it to feel something?
This world is numb, quiet, and diluted.
The river drowns the thunder out.
My hands pull me forward, the current ushering me on, threading around my body. My muscles ache against its strength. My shoulders push and pull, my hands rowing to the word, “overdose,”
Rose, is this what you wanted, to sleep?
I think of when we first met, warbled faces staring into a puddle. I think of how I would trail behind her at the beach, padding through foam with my arms folded behind my back like hers. Our face looking out at the vastness of churning water. I think of the thousand yard stare in the mirror.
Why didn’t you tell me?
Her dark eyes blink at me. A bulb of hair in our hands.
Tell me Rose.
I shake the word out of my head, I steer my mind to focus on Rose, anchoring to her dark eyes.
Please. Why did you want to go?
Rose moves me out of the way.
The rustle of pill bottles hums with thunder.
Rose, tell me, you have to tell me, I love you.
She traded her hair for the pills.
You have to tell me.
Please, I need you to say why.
Rose disappears from the room.
A stitch stabs into my sternum. Bubbles erupt from my mouth. I look up. Light blips across the surface, another bolt of lightning unleashed. The knuckle of muscle churns harder into me. I grit my teeth. I tense against the remainder of air. Instinct to breath burn into my fiber. I strain. I press my nails against my palms and kick against the water, throwing my leg this way and that to push and push on.
I kick my legs against the word.
I claw and push and scratch and row and push at the word, tearing it apart, feeling it break with every blow. I grind it into bubbles. I let the thunder gobble it up. I flay it for the fish. Take it away from me! Take that word out! Take it! It’s not us!
I push out my last breath and scream.
I scream and feel the power in the water. I feel the force. I feel the churn. I feel the emptiness as it evaporates from my ribs and my cells. I feel it.
Until I am nothing but the depth of silence.
I have no memory of us as this.
Rose is laying in a bed. Her breath presses against the fabric of her mask, and evaporates when she inhales. A monitor notates life with beeps beside me.
I raise my head. The city winks at me from the window. An elbow sifts in the dark to my right. Rose’s Dad cranes his back to crack, rising slightly from a stiff chair. He yawns, smacks his lips. His eyes open a little to check on Rose. I back away from her. He frowns at her then closes his eyes again, settling into his chair.
I wait until his breathing changes to return to Rose.
“Rose,” I whisper. She doesn’t stir. I exhale. The breath in her mask evaporates. I stretch my sleeve to dab tears dry.
“Rose, how long were you on the floor?”
The machine beeps.
Rose sleeps on.
I fold my shirt up to cover my face.
“Was it all day? Were you lonely? I could have been with you, if you only looked for me,” I whisper. My body shudders. I press the wet cloth of the sleeve into my face.
“I can wear a mask too, Rose, look at me, I can wear one too.”
The machines punctuate my weeping, as if assuring me.
I shouldn’t see this. I shouldn’t see this. It’s us. We are dying. We are sleeping our life away because we were hurting so much we didn’t want to know it. I never knew this is what we wanted.
“Rose, please wake up!”
I grab her hand and gasp.
Electricity lashes through me, cracks through the nerves and segments them.
Rose’s body jolts. Her back arches then falls against the mattress. Her eyes widen. The machines squeal in alarm.
I gasp. I back away from her. She looks at me. Her eyes wide with wonder. Her eyelashes flutter, fighting the urge to close.
My lips shutter.
A muffled word amplifies in her mask.
“Rose,” I whisper.
Dad has woken up. He throws himself onto the bed, grasping Rose’s elbows. He doesn’t see me, I Glimpse across the machine screens, bound over the iv packaging, and press against the window to watch.
Rose furrows her eyebrows at him. I do the same. Dad is shaking. His broad hands are combing through our hair. He tucks the tufts of downy dark in his hand.
“Honey, oh my god, honey, I thought you were gone,” he whispers. He presses his head into hers. She is too weak and wilts onto him, disappearing from my sight.
Dad cries out, “Nurse! Nurse!’
A woman pokes her head into the room. She blinks at them.
Dad says, “Get our nurse, Room 1A, she woke up!”
The woman nods and scurries past the door. She is calling for her, her voice bouncing off the midnight walls.
“God, this is a miracle. Stay here, stay here, I’m gonna call Mom, and Dorthea, and Grandma, I am calling everyone!”
Dad struggles getting his phone from the pocket and stumbles out of the room, speaking a mile a minute to a drowsy voice on the phone.
Rose’s head pushes farther up on her mound of pillows. She inhales. The machines have resumed beeping. She exhales. She shifts in bed. She inhales. Her fingers tuck under the edge of her mask and push it away from her mouth.
I press against the glass.
My breath spills onto the window.
Her eyes lift to me. I hold my breath. I follow her as she struggles herself up to sit, wincing at the IV that tugs reminders into her arm. She stares straight ahead. The fog from my breath evaporates. I let her fill my frame, the mask on our chin, our hair disheveled, eyes new.
So do I.
We are a ritual, her and I, morning, noon, night. We recite each other's movements. If her right eyebrow raises, so does mine, if she frowns, so do I, this is what we do, and what we have always done, my Main, and I, her reflection.
We will continue our practices. Even when it feels to hard to even see each other, we will, we can, we must.
Hello, and thank you for reading this story. This piece is fictional, but the topics are not. Here are sources listed relating to the subjects referenced in this work.