I looked in the mirror
saw a little girl
so confused by the world
oh and so ugly
I'm glad I'm not her
Yet again, I've stared at myself too long. It would be wise to eliminate all the mirrors in the house. The bathroom mirror is fogged up and only a candle is lit in the dark. The small flame dances and plays with my eyes. I make up a small rhyme about a ghost, convinced that it follows me everywhere, especially to mirrors. I dry off and slip into pajamas with half-closed eyes. It always is so painful to use them when the only image I have before me is my own reflection. There's a pair of scissors sitting on the counter. I can't go against his word, so I don't cut. Instead, I let the metal blades hover above the candle flame and draw them to my arm. They're only slightly warm and this time I slice them through the middle of the flame a few times, pressing it back against my skin. Hardly a twinge of pain. This time I let the blades sit in the flame until the metal turned black. When I lift them out, I'm hesitant. I linger only a moment before pressing them into my skin. As I feel the heat rip through my flesh, my first reaction is to pull the blades away. My hand flinches but I'm determined to keep it in place. Suddenly, the harsh pain melts away, leaving warmth in its place which seems to flow through my entire body. My lips curve into an entranced smile, fascinated that this, my first intentional burn, has worked so well. I repeat the process several times, blowing out the candle once I have two lovely blisters, surrounded by halos of singed skin. I would later spread the word that I had found "something better than cutting."
Of course, no one would understand. "Don't do that," they said. But they didn't know. They didn't live in this body. They didn't see this every time they saw their reflection. When I said that I wished to be beautiful, they said, "It's against the laws of nature to be beautiful and smart." I only wished for them to lie to me, but in the end I decided that I must become an idiot to succeed in this world of foreign loveliness. I looked up the word "intelligent" in the dictionary. "Revealing or reflecting good judgement or sound thought," it said. So I came to the conclusion that I'd downgrade my common sense, as I had done so many times before, and after only three months of shame for the knife scars decorating my legs and arms, my frame of mind switched on me again. I fell back in love with the tissue that gleamed a heavenly white when the light touched it with an angelic hand. I cherished those slivers of past misery drained out. My fingers often grazed over my skin, feeling the unevenness of flesh to memory. Apathy to depression. That was beauty, beauty I had in abundance. Each thread of discoloration was another speck of magnificence, increasing my odds of admittance into the world of grandeur. If nothing else, these scars were my companions. They were faithful, loving, and I'd surround myself with them.
I noticed one night that this had become an addiction. I sat on the floor of my bedroom late at night. The wind was howling outside so I opened my window wide and lit the red candle, setting it on top of The Rainbow (Lawrence would understand). I crossed my legs and bent over the flame, teasing it with the point of the scissors. I pressed it against my skin, below a popped blister. It was warm. I needed scorching. The blade went incessantly from the flame to same black smudge at home on the soft, hungry skin of my forearm. When I had thought five minutes had passed, it had really been twenty. When I thought I should finally sleep, the night was turning grey; transforming into dawn as my uncomely plainness transformed into charm. I had lost one, maybe two, layers of skin and it burned contention into every fiber of my being as I curled up in the sunrise, finally ready to face a new day. And in my last waking moments I knew they were wrong. I knew that with a simple flame and blade I, too, could become beautiful.
I awoke hours later, dragging myself from the pillow, motivated only by the thought of washing soot off my arm to reveal something doubtlessly splendid. I dressed, making sure not to look at my arm and ruin the surprise. Once in the bathroom, I shut the door tight and ran cold water over my skin, rubbing at the blackness with my fingertips and finally turning off the faucet and drying my arm. Excitement shot through me like lightning and I moved my limb from under the towel. The lightning inside pierced my heart instead as my eyes took in nothing but a red dot. No blisters, no scorched wounds, only a wisher like me. Wishing to be something it's not; something even more amazing than what I had seen before, wishing to please my eye and I longed to please the eye of any passer-by. I ran my fingers over it in pure disbelief. How can this be? There is no sensitive, invisible wound. All skin is still intact. All night, I mutter. All night and I'm repaid with nothing. Tears swell up in my eyes and I know that it's all so useless. Later I will walk out into the public streets and buildings and I will feel their eyes on me and I will burn with a desire to tell them all that I'm sorry. That I tried. I will hang my head low and walk quickly, trying so hard to get far out of sight. I will never forgive myself for being ugly today.