A loud crash shook me from my daydreams. I went to investigate where the sound had come from, only to find the boxes I had painstakingly stacked in the garage had toppled over. I sighed, bending on my knees to pick up the pieces of the broken mirror that were shattered all over the polished floor, I turned one piece over and was dumb-struck.

It was a picture of an old woman with dark, nebulous eyes, her faded skin creased like vellum. I stroked my hand through my gun-metal greying hair. I couldn’t shake off the unsettling feeling that the woman staring from the reflective glass wasn’t me, it couldn’t be me, yet somehow, we were foreign and unfamiliar.

My heart raced and a cold shiver rushed down my spine. Panic set in and I struggled to recognise the old lady glaring back at me. I decided to take a closer look at every detail of the figure in the mirror.

The fatigued eyes that stared seemed to carry the weight of a million unspoken secrets and the heart hiding sorrow. The lines etched across the visage appeared deeper, telling stories of gruesome experiences I could not even recall. This woman had aged by the burdens of life complexities.

I tried to shake off this surreal feeling because I was still in denial. This wasn’t how I saw myself. I was supposed to be the same person I was my entire life — the young, vibrant and lively girl filled with dreams, aspirations and desires, whose rosy red cheeks and shiny eyes were an accessory. All that beauty seemed to have vanished, leaving behind a crooked, weak anti-hero and fragile ghost.

I wondered if this was a sign of a mid-life crisis or perhaps the realisation of aging, or it was an awakening to the truth that we are ever-changing beings, decaying and shaped by our choices. Nevertheless, the heavy curtain had been lifted.

Shaking, I pushed the shattered seams of glass away from me. I blinked rapidly, not realising that tears were now rolling down my faded face. It was a whispered confession, but I had now started to embrace this unfamiliar version of myself. My life journey has moulded me into someone new, yet who looks so old, with an un-erasable past.

This was the first time I appreciated the stories written between the lines on my face. My reflection was my ability to grow out. The mirror was just a reminder for my soul to adore the beauty of change and with that I gently wiped the tears rolling down my cheek, put up a smile and played my playlist of favourite Taylor Swift songs on my phone.

Published in Dawn, Young World, April 27th, 2024

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