The Girl in the Mirror


I stared at the girl for a long time … trying to discover her identity.

When I was a little girl, I had a lot of daydreams. Sure, almost all children have fantasies. But these were not your ordinary, everyday, run of the mill, childhood dreams. I was not a normal child. Yet, what child is normal, and what fantasy is ordinary? Anyway, as I was saying, I had some extraordinary ideas.

First, and probably most unusual, I believed I was a blonde. Don’t ask me why; imagination usually doesn’t provide a “why” or a “because.” I believed the dark-haired, fair-skinned image in the mirror was someone else who had been hired to trick me into believing that I resembled Snow White more than Cinderella. I would stand in front of the mirror for hours on end trying to catch her blinking at the wrong moment or making some other false movement that would give her away. Apparently she had been trained well in the art of imitation, and I never caught her off guard.

Long flowing blonde hair reminds me of gold and sunshine. Angels have blonde hair, and so do all the beautiful princesses who live happily ever after.

There is something magic about blonde hair, and since I imagined I had blonde hair, there was something magic about me.

It’s funny some of the strange things a person can do when she’s magic. Dolls talk, elevator doors open when she waves her hand, and cardboard boxes become sleek new cars. I had traveled in parts of outer space where the shuttle flights hadn’t been. I could talk to bumblebees, make friends with warring natives, and even turn a single pink balloon into an entire birthday party.

Of course, being as magic and as beautiful as I was, I was naturally the center of the universe. When I skinned my knee, the whole world felt the pain; when my goldfish died, everyone mourned with me; when I played the harpsichord for the PTA in the second grade, the room was packed, and they had all come to listen to me.

It was a wonderful world I lived in. It was a good feeling knowing that everyone loved me and that the whole world was watching out for me. It is too bad that kind of fantasy can’t last forever.

One day, as I was looking in the mirror, I felt a strange sense of realization, and reality slowly filtered through the magic. That girl, standing there, staring back at me, was me. Those were my eyes, those were my eyes, those were my freckles, that was my skin, and that, like it or not, was my hair. It was not sunshine or gold. It didn’t shine or gleam or make me look like an angel. It was black.

I stared at the girl for a long time in one last futile attempt to discover her identity. She didn’t flinch. I moved ever so slightly to the left. She moved with me. I lifted my hand above my head, then suddenly jerked it back down. She did it also.

I went into my room and shut the door tightly. Then I lay down on my bed and thought.

I thought about all the people who went to PTA, but not to hear me play the harpsichord. I thought about all the people who were laughing the day my goldfish died. I thought about cardboard boxes and elevator doors. I thought about pink balloons and dolls. I thought about gold and sunshine and everything I could think of.

Then I got up and went back to my mirror. There I was—me—black hair and all.

A smile tickled the corners of my mouth and then leaped boldly to my lips.

Long flowing black hair reminds me of night and the manes of wild stallions, and there is something magically alive about night and wild stallions.