She woke up from a dream and went into the bathroom. She stared into the mirror and noticed two women staring at her . . . .
This one listened to what others told her. Don't make mistakes, they would say. Why dress like that? Black, yellow, white, purple, orange, blue is not your colour, dear. Flat affect, a sense that no, I'm not trying to make waves. I can't make waves. I can only place my ear to the ground and watch the thin trickle creep toward nothing. This one wanted to please everyone. Smile, dear, they tell her. You're so pretty when you smile. Show teeth, dear, but not too much. Watch those who want to use you. She tread carefully along the sidewalks, making sure not to step on any cracks. No backs broken, no buttons popping off her dress. When the boys began to look at her strangely, they rushed in with gates and fences. Don't give in, they scream. Don't let them take it, so soon, too soon. She felt their gazes on her, wanted to know what it was all about. She wanted to know what a kiss meant. She gave in. And regretted it. It wasn't for love, he told her. Only because I was bored. Rising through the clouds, she took what was offered to her. Black window-less buildings that towered over her. Come in, they said, and we'll give you a number. Leave your name at the door. Assistant to one, servant to another. Blinding beige everywhere. She closed her eyes and waited for her lunch break. Every. Damn. Day. Still assisting, still nearby, always quiet. Quiet, dear, they tell her now. Quiet.
That one was born in a forest. Leaves stuck to her body while bugs crawled all over her. She cried with the foxes and drank from the rivers. Her hair, long, uncombed - symbol of her presence. She saw colours when none could be seen. She flew with immense raven wings. She read the stories of gods and goddesses of old and wondered - where did they go? She wanted to meet Hades and ask him why he was so sad, then persuade him to take her as his lover. She dreamt of swimming with whales, killing seals with great whites, and attacking prey with the pythons. She wandered through jungles and wrote her adventures. She fell in love. Again. Again. She slept with men and women, always seeking a new sensation. She met one who understood. Verboten, the others hissed at her. Keep away. She ignored them and gave him her heart. He refused. She threw herself into the river like Ophelia, her Saint. Not to die but to baptize herself. Cleanse yourself of the limited, her Saint told her. Madness wanted to touch her, only to recoil when they realized who (what) she was. She kept her heart in a glass box. Never again, she screamed into the winds. Free me. She stopped bathing - she liked her smell of pine needles and burning sage. Running faster, faster, even when her lungs threatened to burst from her chest. To run meant that she could dream. Drink tea with the ghosts of regrets, make love in an Parisian bookstore, walk through a cemetery and cry on the tombstones, travel with gypsies through forgotten kingdoms, and listen. Hear the stories of those who answered the Call. Listen, dear Childe. Listen. Stand up. Fight.
Two women stare at her through the mirror.
Two women - one me.