Whispers From The Mirrorbyvelvetpie©
Janice stood in front of the mirror, staring at herself. She had turned twenty yesterday and her mother had bought her a new blouse and skirt. She turned around and around, smiling at her reflection. She looked beautiful. She looked healthy. She looked perfect.
"Still too fat."
She looked around, wondering where the voice had come from. A look into the mirror provided the answer. Her reflection stood staring at her, hands crossed across its chest and one foot tapping impatiently. Janice just glared back, her expression a mixture of incredulity and fear.
"What did you say?"
"You heard me. What, have you suddenly gone deaf?"
No, she hadn't gone deaf but Janice certainly thought that she was losing her mind. "No, I ... "
"You what? You know, Janice, you're turning into a disappointment."
"Yes. When I told you that you were too fat before, you reacted immediately. Now, you're just staring at me like you don't know me."
"But I'm not too fat."
"Yes, you are. Your thighs are huge. Can't you see the pucker of cellulite starting?"
Janice turned her back to the mirror and checked the backs of her thighs. Her skin was perfectly soft and smooth and they looked nice in the new skirt. "I don't know what you're talking about. My thighs look fine."
"No, they don't. They're chubby and bulgy. And look at your knees! Your kneecaps are just a dent in your fat legs."
Janice stared at her reflection, her mouth drying up. Her reflection was, of course, perfect. Not a hint of fat any where. "You're lying."
"I'm lying? I'm lying?" Her reflection was nearly apoplectic with rage. "I'm the only friend you have, remember? You don't want to piss me off, Janice. You piss me off and you'll be all alone, like you were before."
Janice shook her head, her body trembling. She stumbled backward and let her hand search her bed, looking for the book while her eyes remained locked to the mirror. Her reflection stared at her, teeth bared in an angry grimace. "You're not my friend. You never were."
"Of course I am, you stupid idiot. What the hell did they teach you at that hospital? I thought you were going to learn something important."
"I did. I learned that you aren't my friend."
"Who told you that? No, wait. Don't tell me. Dr. Barnard told you that, didn't she?" Janice nodded, still searching for the book. "Dr. Barnard knows everything, doesn't she?"
"She doesn't know everything but she is very knowledgeable."
"So is she your friend now?"
"Yes. She's my friend."
"She's not as good a friend as I am." The young woman in the mirror sat down on the edge of the bed. "She won't help you out like I have."
"Yes, she will."
"No, she won't. She won't be there 24/7. She won't tell you when your thighs are too fat and your stomach is hanging over your pants."
"No, she won't, because I don't need her to."
"Yes, you do. You need someone to tell you what to do, Janice. That's the way it's always been, don't you remember?" The reflection smiled, leaning back against the headboard of the bed. "I used to help you pick out clothes, remember? And we used to dance to the Backstreet Boys while we looked at our bodies."
Janice kept searching for the book, listening to the words of her reflection. The friendship had started out as something nice, something she looked forward to every day when she came home from school, smarting at the memory of the names her fellow students had called her all day. Then, the reflection had offered her some advice. She was fat. Too fat. And so she'd started throwing up after dinner. It helped. The pounds melted away and her thighs got smaller.
"And didn't I help you when you got too fat? When your thighs were bumpy like orange skin and your arms were thick as hams?" The reflection paused. "Well, you're getting fat again. Just like before."
She felt the edge of the book and turned away from the mirror as she grabbed it, flipping the cover open. The first picture made her heart stop. The photo was of a relatively pretty girl, wearing a pair of panties and a t-shirt, both of which hung off of her emaciated body. Her dull hair hung limply over bony shoulders and her rib cage stuck out like a skin-covered cage. Her hips were hard-edged swords, her thighs and shins sticks and her knees knobs of bone. Beneath the picture, four words and a date were written. Me on admission day. August 24, 2005.
"What are you looking at?"
Janice turned the page and let the horrible pictures burn into her mind, pictures of how she had looked during her hospital confinement. She saw herself metamorphosize from an unhappy skeleton to a healthy young woman, happy with herself. She flipped to the last page, the day she'd been released and she looked great. This was the picture she turned to the mirror.
"I don't want to see any pictures of fat girls."
"I'm not fat." She firmly said, staring into the eyes of her reflection. "I look perfect. My thighs are beautiful, my arms are toned and my hair is bright and shiny, just like my eyes. There is nothing wrong with my weight. Nothing."
The reflection began to fade, the face livid with anger. "You're wrong, Janice. You're fat. You're a fat hog and you're going to need me again one day ... "
Amanda knocked at her daughter's door, pushing it open and smiling uncertainly at the young woman who was standing in front of the mirror. She didn't want to jump to conclusions but staring into the mirror was one of the behaviors that Janice practiced before she was hospitalized. "Janice, are you all right?"
Janice closed the book and read the heading on the cover: Janice Henry's Recovery Handbook. With a smile, she set it on her bedside table and turned her mother.
"Never been better, Mom."