Cracked, Jet Black
– By Jet Black
As I move closer, the mirror cracks and our face grows sadder, for it cannot repair the damage that has been done. A lone tear ventures down our face, the hand across our lips silence our inaudible cries, and the mirror draws a jagged crack where the tear-drop passes. We cannot take our eyes away. They stare, transfixed upon every tendril of imperfection that appears before our eyes.
The mirror slowly releases the hand around our mouth and we walk closer. Our hands meet, and a hollow feeling envelops our soul. A frown of resignation paints our face, and we listen to the silent cry only we can hear.
The mirror disintegrates, and I stand alone. Soft, slow footsteps creak the wooden floor beyond the door, but the shattered glass whispers my name and I cannot look away. The door opens, but the
glass doesn’t repair itself. It never does. Why repair yourself when the only one who can see the cracks is the boy who can no longer speak?
“Honey, your dinner is ready.”
I do not need to turn on my heels to see the perplexed look my Mum wears. The creaks grow louder until two arms coil around my chest.
Her voice breaks. “Honey, what do you see in the mirror?”
Ever so slowly, the fragments of glass repair themselves. Our mother’s eyes are stained with scarlet vines, clear pools of liquid slowly collect where thick, black circles lay. Her chin now lightly rests upon our shoulder, and where her hair ceases the cracks begin. The cracks never deviate.
We wish we could tell Mum this, but the hand over our lips perennially hush our cries. The cracks poison the hand, but it only clutches tighter, as if a masochistic snake. She looks at us, desperation and despair in her eyes, but all we can do is watch as her heart turns fragile. We feel sick, our body completely empty.
Tears flow from Mum’s eyelids. “What did they do to you?”
A classroom of children and adults walks toward the mirror and our eyes squeeze shut. We can hear them, slowly enveloping our mind with homophobic taunts. We feel them encircle us – people who once saw us as friends, others who always despised us – all united in the name of God.
They sing hymns of our death and destruction and only Ryan sits back, horror splashed over his olive-stained features. He dare not break the crowd apart and we do not blame him, for he is but one person. Sitting in silence as the crowd chants, once more our vacant stare dulls the pain. We can only look to Ryan amongst the sea of vultures. He stares into our soul, and becomes a part of it as the mirror disintegrates once more.
I do not mask the tears, and neither does Mum. We sit in deafening silence.
By the time the mirror re-assembles we are in a small, brown chair. Opposite sits a petite, sandy-haired woman, and her concerned glances at my mother do not ease our ever-cracking face.
“Why won’t he speak, Dr. Borden?”
The hand, now tarred black from the poison seeping into its veins, tightens its grip. Our lungs feel heavy, and no one notices as we suffocate in silence.
Dr Borden does not look at us. “Does he respond to you at all when you speak, Mrs. Klein? Can he nod, or shake his head?”
We can feel Mum ask us a question, but the mirror still whispers our name. We cannot look away.
Feeling Dr Borden’s gaze shift toward us, she asks, “Anderson, what do you see in the mirror?”
The eyes of ghosts past haunt us, but the only answer she wants to hear is the only answer we can’t give her.
The mirror disintegrates, and I am alone again.
The mirror is still fragmented when the dark wrestles with the light. I hear my mother and another person approaching, but even the soft creak of the floorboards seldom gives me comfort anymore.
“Anderson, you have a visitor.”
The mirror repairs itself, and Ryan stares into our soul once more. He slowly walks toward us, as if on eggshells. He sits next to us, jet-black hair and olive skin a stark contrast to our pale colourings. He rests his head against our neck, the mirror never cracking his beautiful features. No matter how long the silence lasts, or how still he stays, we can always feel his presence.
“What have they done to you, Ander?” he whispers, disgust on his face. “I wish I could have stood up for you.”
Tick after tock, minute after minute, he waits for our answer. He does not get upset, nor does he become impatient. He expects nothing unrealistic, nor does he even expect us to talk.
After a while, he raises his head. “What is so fascinating about that mirror, Ander? Why do you keep looking at it so much?” The blackened fingers over our mouth dig deeper into our skin.
“Well, do you want to know what I see? I see the bravest guy I have ever met.”
The whispers of the mirror begin to fade. A smile plays on our lips, and Ryan’s altruism starts to repair the cracks. We trace where the mirror repairs itself, and we feel immeasurable warmth. Looking at Ryan, tears start to fall down our face. The hand eases its grip.
“I was never brave. I always asked myself, what would have happened if I had told them I was gay? I fear I wouldn’t be alive.”
The hand releases, and the whispers vanish. We turn our complete attention to Ryan.
“When I heard you were seriously ill, I knew what was wrong. I came to see how you were, and to help you. I may not be as brave as you, but I now know that God – yes, that very same God those bastards use – put me on to this earth to stand beside you. You are not alone.”
As the last of the cracks fill themselves, and the ghosts of past anguish vanish completely, Ryan embraces me. I sob fiercely into his shoulder.
“I love you, Ander.”
I stare into the mirror, and the fear that we once wore has been replaced by hope. We smile at each other, and part ways. The cracks disintegrate one final time and I see nothing but my reflection.
“I love you too, Ryan.”