I always thought it would be cool to escape into another world. I never believed I'd find one in my reflection. But there I was, falling through the mirror into a parallel life-Samara's life. And she needed me. The cutting, the dead mom, no friends...She was hurting, and I knew it was up to me to fix it. She needed me to fix her.
She'll thank me...
Samara I never had a friend until I met Dee, at least not a real friend. But then she's my reflection, so maybe I'm just crazy. When she suggested we switch places, it seemed like the perfect answer.
So I let her live in my world, and I lived in hers.
With her mom, her boyfriend, her friends-her perfect life...I don't belong here.
But how can I go back after what she's done?
Two girls, one reflection, and a startling discovery about what really lies beyond the bathroom mirror...
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About the Author
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Julia Mayer wrote Eyes in the Mirror as part of a summer program run by 826NYC between her sophomore and junior years in high school. She graduated from Boston University in 2009 with a double degree in Philosophy and Psychology.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Julia Mayer wrote the first version of Eyes in the Mirror as part of an 8-week program run by 826NYC during the summer between her sophomore and junior years at Bard High School Early College. She graduated from Boston University in 2009 with a double degree in Philosophy and Psychology. An avid swing dancer, she is also believed to be the only person to own a plastic hot dog signed by the 2009 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest champion.
Read an Excerpt
I couldn't stop staring at the razor on the rim of my bathtub. It was bright pink and sparkly. The handle was soft, and the blades were contoured to avoid cutting my legs when I shaved. And now, that was all I wanted from it.
I picked it up and turned it over in my hands. I looked at my hand, my wrist, my arm. I ran my left hand over my right arm, touched my cheek to my shoulder, and looked down. My shoulder felt so soft, and my arms were so smooth and clean. They needed cuts. I needed to ruin this. I needed to feel something, anything.
Suddenly, I was very aware of the tension in my shoulders, my clenched back, and my curled toes. I put the razor against my skin, just under my left shoulder, and I pulled it straight across. I saw the three horizontal slashes. I watched the blood run down my arm. The cuts were shallow.
I would get better at this over time. I would learn to break the razors I bought so that I could hold each blade individually and make deeper cuts. I felt the pressure drain out of me as I ran water over a washcloth. I used the washcloth to blot the dripping blood and clean myself up and then soaked the cloth until it looked clean.
It was just like my health teacher had said it would be. I had listened to her put down all of my other vices. She had told me that there was no such thing as safe sex, that marijuana was a gateway drug, and that if I smoked I would die within four years. And then I'd listened to her tell me not to cut myself.
I used to squirm when I heard people talk about cutting.
Taking a razor to your own flesh never seemed logical to me. But in reality, it's wonderful. You can cut into yourself all the frustrations people take out on you.
All the pieces of my life started to come back together after that. My dad was happy with me again. He saw his sweet little girl coming back, the one who'd disappeared after Mom died. I was happy with myself because everyone else thought I was fine. They thought I was learning how to cope, how to live, how to be happy, and only I knew the truth. And knowing the truth gave me power over all of them.
Every cut, every welt, every scar was my revenge on the world for making me who I was, for all of the wrong paths they sent me down, for all of the bad things they had made me do. The cuts were revenge on my dad for everything he had put me through. And on my mom for leaving me. These scars were mine alone, and nobody could take them away.
I didn't do it because of my father's girlfriends, or "lady friends" as he called them. Though having them around the house certainly didn't help. They were everything I expected them to be. Based on this selection, I don't know how he wound up with my mom in the first place. The women he brought home were horrible. They were mean or patronizing or young or old or just...strange.
Immediately after meeting me, one of them acquired the habit of walking away in the middle of my sentences. She would ask me a question and then just as I was responding, she would leave. And she was one of my favorites. At least she didn't pretend to try to befriend me. It was easier being invisible.
Another one was frightened of elevators. My dad had suggested we could all go out for dinner together so we could get to know each other, and I ran into her in the lobby of his office building. She was closer to the call button but didn't use it. Instead she stared straight ahead.
We stood there for a moment until I realized that she wasn't going to catch on to the problem. So I leaned over and pushed the call button. The elevator doors opened and I would have walked in, but she continued standing there, blocking the entrance. I don't know if she was expecting a magic-carpet ride into the elevator, but she refused to move in. So I suggested we take the stairs.
"What's the matter with the elevator?" she asked, scurrying up the stairs behind me. At least my father's office was only on the fourth floor.
My father wasn't purposely ignoring my feelings; he just didn't really give any thought to what sort of effect his dating would have on me.
It took at least half a dozen of these women before he found someone that even I couldn't hate. Caroline. She was sweetness personified, the first to care about how I felt about her appearance in my life. I wanted so much to hate everything about her, just like I hated the others, but she made it impossible. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't keep my vow not to like her. I opened up and let her in. I should have known that could only end in her leaving.
It wasn't a car crash, a horrible accident, or any sort of vicious death. It was just me...being me. Caroline realized how hard watching my father date was for me. "Talk to him, Samara. He cares about you. He just doesn't know how to show it. Help him," she told me. So I did. Dad and I were doing the dishes together one night-just the two of us.
"What can I do for you, Pumpkin?"
"Can we talk?" I let a plate with soggy bits of rice on it clink in the sink. "I...I'm having some trouble accepting that you date." I held my breath, and then a haze seemed to wash over my mind.
The rest of the words tumbled out in a fast stream. "I thought Mom was the only woman you could ever love, and now you've forgotten about her and you bring home these horrible women who don't even care about you and they're so mean to me. I don't understand how you could just forget."
My father stood staring, stunned, with a half-dry glass in his hand. His mouth hung open and his eyes seemed unnaturally wide. Then he silently took my hand, still soapy with dish suds, and led me upstairs to my room. He opened my closet door and stood me in front of the full-length mirror.
"Look at you. I could never forget your mother."
I shook my head angrily, choking back tears. "I'm not Mom."
"I know that, but you have her in you. In your eyes and chin, of course, but also in your heart and mind. That's how I can keep living without being afraid of forgetting." He turned me so that I faced him. "But I wish I had known you were so upset. You can tell me anything. You know that, don't you? It can be just the two of us for a while."
The next day he broke up with Caroline. I could picture her in the restaurant, shocked, sad, and disappointed.
I hadn't meant for him to do that. I tried to tell him, but he insisted it was "right for us." So, Caroline's disappearance was my fault. I'm not to blame for my mother's death. I'm not to blame for Ms. Herwitz's disappearance. Caroline was my fault, though. And I'll never forget that. I can imagine what she would say if she knew what had happened. If she knew it was my fault their relationship ended.
"I cared about you enough to connect and to help you connect with your father. And now this?" she would say. And she would be right. Was this how I repaid her? She was one of the only people who had tried to reach out to me. And in retrospect, after this, well, it didn't surprise me at all that so few people had tried. It was around that time that I started to need cutting instead of wanting it. I broke a new razor, storing the handle in the dresser in my room with all the others that I had saved for no reason, grabbed one of the blades, and lashed into myself. I made four deep cuts at the top of each leg and allowed the blood to drip onto the white tile floor of the bathroom. I sat down and waited, and when most of it had dried, I washed up, washed the floor, and went to bed.
I tried to silence myself after Caroline left. I tried to quiet my mind and watch others be happy. I thought maybe if I could see how they were happy, I would understand how to be happy and I could be happy myself. I had always been happy when I had no one. It was when I opened up to someone that I got hurt. Every time.