“What will you do when make-up won’t stop you from looking like an old has been? When you get cottage cheese thighs and saggy old boobs that droop down to your belly button? When you can’t stand to look in the mirror anymore?
“I’ll get surgery. Creams. Spanx. I’ll worry about it then. Leave me alone.”
She tried to go left but was blocked yet again. This one seemed far away despite Britney standing two feet in front of the glass.
“Alone? You want to be alone? I don’t think so. You haven’t truly been alone in years. You don’t know how to be by yourself. Not yet anyway.”
This Britney walked backwards, deeper into the maze and closer to isolation.
“You will know. One day, when no one likes your pictures, and they ignore your status updates. When you don’t exist because everything you were admired for is gone. Then, you’ll know what it means to be alone.”
The reflection disappeared. The real Britney stood there, bereft of her image. Nothing showed in any of the mirrors, no reflections of herself or the old woman.
She baby stepped her way through the labyrinth. Her palms glided against the glass, leaving streaks and fingerprints as she tried to feel her way around.
In a moment of clarity, she tried to dial 9-1-1. Praying for reception, she tapped the numbers into the phone, and her home screen morphed into a mirror.
This one showed her dead. A neat, little red line covered her neck like a choker. Her pale skin accentuated her slit throat, the dark shadows under her eyes and her chapped blue lips, but it was nothing that couldn’t be concealed with a little foundation and powder. All things considered, she made a beautiful corpse.
The screen cracked when she dropped her phone. She fled from it and the terrible secret it revealed—the secret of prolonged youth and allure. Not quite eternal, but much longer than the alternative of evanescent living beauty.
She rammed into another mirror. This Britney furrowed her eyebrows and scowled, one hand pointing at her with accusation.
“Why don’t you just do it already? You’re not getting any younger. Give up.”
“No. I’m not ready to die. I still have time.”
“Not enough,” this Britney said. “See? You’re already packing on the pounds, fattie.”
It morphed back into a funhouse mirror. The beachball bottom returned, along with the fat tummy, both more realistic this time. Instead of one big stomach, she had multiple rolls of fat. Flabby arms. Cankles.
“I don’t look like that.”
But she did. All the reflections showed the same thing, no matter how many she looked at.
“No. I just need a better angle. This is bad lighting.”
She examined her body. Her upper arms jiggled with excess fat; her pudgy middle obscured the view of her own feet.
“And those wrinkles.”
She touched her face, and the delicate skin aged by the moment.
“Make it stop.”
“I can’t. Only you can. You know what to do.”
Madison Estes has had work featured in Inkling, One Sentence Poems, Enter the Aftermath by TANSTAAFL press and A Wink and a Smile by Smoking Pen Press. Her personal essay is forthcoming in the anthology The Daily Abuse. In her spare time she reads Marvel fanfiction, goes to rock concerts, makes octopus sculptures and takes way too many pictures of her Chihuahuas. She lives in Texas with her family and three dogs.
Featured Image Credit: http://www.bifff.net/program/selfie-from-hell/