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Mirror Wall
Jason S. Kong
18 May 2002

I died when I refused to look at myself any longer. When I died, I died more than just once; I died thousands of times at that instant, falling at the exact same time I fell, closing my eyes the same moment I closed mine. I could have guessed what I was thinking when I died. After all, I was me.

If I would ever be found after death, I would still be perfect. My skin would be unbroken, still as clean as a surface wiped with Fantastik several times and as thick as an elephant's. They could not attribute my death to disease as I had recently attended a check-up and was found to be in perfect condition. My eyesight was perfect as my hearing. I suppose the latter two things were the problem. Those things killed me, my eyesight and hearing.

If I had heard less and seen less than I did, then I might not have been caught in the situation in the first place. Just maybe when I glanced the other way off the streets of my home I wouldn't have noticed the small sphere that seemed to meditate silently over the horizon where the grass had all yellowed out and bent like old hunchbacks. But if I think about it now, I was warning myself the whole time I walked closer; I saw myself in the solid sphere and it told me to turn away. No, it didn't tell me anything. My eyes were always staring at me approaching the sphere though I did not see me. And by the time I saw me, I already turned away so I would not see my pleading eyes, filled with tears and on my knees begging me to turn back. I saw only the back of my head, the short shaved follicles of hair that refused to dance to the wind's song. The tears I did not see, ever.

Spheres are beautiful because they are perfect in all appearance, shape and size. They are consistent wherever you look, the perfect reflection of you spread wide and far so that there can be no flaps of skin hidden from the observer. And if you are as captivated as I was when I saw myself up there, walking closer and watching my kneeling self fade away, I could see another self of mine staring straight into me, this one's face flattened out with a rolling pin and dark black marker lines exaggerating each of my facial features. My dark wrinkles on the top of my head folded over each other and my chin drooped with a heavy sag. The bottom of my nose seemed to fade into the shadows and even my lips were tainted with the foul smell of permanent marker. And when I looked at them they opened up so wide and gaping that I could hear the words my reflection spoke to me.

"Come. Come Inside," the whisper slowly wafted into my ears and struck me deaf. I heard the words once; my own lips opened to match my lips and when I spoke nothing escaped. No, that wasn't true. Words came out; I could feel my throat moving to make the words appear in the air, but when my ears perked to listen to my own words, nothing was there, only instead replaced by the sound of ocean waves crashing upon a sandy shore. Almost like those things I saw in television, when a melodramatic television figure would walk towards oblivion on sandy grains stuck between each of their toes.

But when I looked at myself, my large wide panoramic face glooming over me, I was smiling to myself, my eyes in a broad, sad expression and one that seemed to beckon me ever closer. I heard nothing but I could see the words approach my lips, telling me again, "Come."

What else could I do? Already I was dumbfounded by the mere thought of my dissociation with myself. As I took each step further I began to wave my right hand, still facing myself implanted in my vision. I did not wave my right hand. Instead, I looked at myself, glancing curiously at my right hand who was swinging my hand around rapidly, and in a swift movement, used my hand to motion myself to stop waving that hand around. I guess I thought it was annoying and didn't let myself think; kind of like a fly buzzing overhead in a silent room, perhaps. Nevertheless, I consented and stood face to face with the sphere.

I couldn't really say that since the sphere was at least three times the height of my six foot height. The gentle humming drone and overbearing glance of myself upon me reminded me the relationship may have been more face to knee, with me on the shorter end of the spectrum. It did not matter anymore. I was here, standing on a broken hill where a single sphere hovered gallantly in the air without the slightest instances of movement. Curious, I leered my head around and found myself the victim of curiosity. I was inquisitive enough to venture far from my home, now a single speck in thousands of specks which they could, they would proclaim Moreno Valley. So my thoughts led me here without hunger nor thirst, not bleached by the pressing heat of the sun nor chapped from the melodies of the wind. I was here, my running sneakers planted firmly on the ground and my fingers inches away from the sphere.

It had no appearance. I could not see its color nor shape; it absorbed all colors and cast them back at me, showing me the brilliance that a sun-dried crisp yellow can bring to a single blade of grass magnified hundreds of times. Clearly I saw a white goose flapping its wings gently overhead along with two others, forming a miniature version of a V shape. I could see each feather's lining, the waxy substance that cast away the sun's shine and cloud's bath. And when I looked again I saw myself staring straight into me, my hand in front of my chest with my pointing finger luring myself in, taunting me to touch the sphere. My palms pressed against the edge of the sphere, flattening as it does when pressing against a window, beckoning me to touch, too. And when I could resist no longer, I allowed myself to be sucked into desire and let my finger touch my finger. First it was just the pointing finger, and then slowly but calmly, I slowly laid my palm on top of my palm, my creases pressing firmly against my creases, and I could feel the blood of my palms sailing through my fingers and turn cold as they passed through the capillaries and away again. I did not realize the frigidness of the air that had suddenly grown around me until I began to shiver, and only then did I take notice of the quaint fog that seemed to envelop me in the middle of the bright day.

My vision was perfect; I could clearly see the fog cover my features and the sphere itself, leaving behind nothing more than my wrist that was reaching into the gray haze. And then I could feel the hand that wrapped around my wrist and tugged at me. And I stepped forward, but I did not like force, and stopped, tugging my hand back to see my hand holding my wrist, the same skin tone that I had been born with suddenly springing to life and again trying to pull me into the misty shade. But I did not consent to failure and I darted back with a tug of my own, one that was stronger than mine and allowed my wrist to pull my entire self out of the fog, finally seeing myself in front of my own brown eyes, my features expressionless, the still lips speaking nothing as I responded to my pull with another tug, this time fiercer, leading my wrist back into the fog and at that moment my hand that clutched my wrist was joined with dozens of hands that reached through the fog and smothered my entire arm. I could not win and did not try, I pulled myself in along with all my other hands and feet.

I knew I was entering the sphere, but the process of entering a sphere never was a vivid memory. I was pulled into the haze and when the fog was lifted there I stood in the center of the sphere.

The regaining of my senses was accompanied with the sudden notion that accompanying me was myself many times over and over again. As my head quickly looked all around myself: up, down, all around, behind myself, under my shoes and between my fingers, I was always there, watching myself with a thousand eyes that seemed to penetrate me at every locus possible.

I did nothing at first, merely standing there and marveling at my many selves positioned all over the flat, planar surfaces of the inside. Behind each self was another self reflected from another plane depicting myself. To describe the feeling was like to describe a human being placed in a room of mirrors, surrounded by all sides with a mirror. The human being would always be able to see all of himself at all times. He could not hide from himself and neither could I. I looked at myself and I did not want to see what I saw from me.

Looking ahead I stared back at myself eagerly, my hands on my hips and elbows sticking out, legs slightly slanted and looking at me with almost an unconcerned face. I turned to step closer to me, and when I did, I stepped away from myself, maintaining the same posture as before. I shook my head and my hand lifted off of my hip, telling me to stop. I did.

When I looked my other selves on the ceiling and on the floor, I was all looking at me, nodding that I had stopped from moving and conceded to myself on the other side of the room.

My ears were still telling me of the ocean outside, of how the fish would swim and of how life would go on despite the dying fish, and then just like that the voice of the ocean would dissipate, replaced by the constant echoing of the one footstep I had made. It echoed radiantly and repeatedly, the single step growing ever louder with each echo that passed my ears.

I stood there, trying to be as quiet as I possibly could, but the noise continued to pound into my head again and again, each time growing louder and louder. I felt myself wanting to scream in pain, in agony, wanting to buckle down and shut my ears from the excruciating sound that I had made in this room, all of myself merely standing there looking at me, each in different positions. I would have noticed their positions had I not been in pain, so the only one I saw was myself on which I stood, myself looking up at me and opening his mouth as if to speak. His words, however loud, were drowned by the single footstep that refused to die under all circumstances.

But stubborn as I was, I had to be foolish and I tried to have me speak louder; I opened my mouth and tried to shut it too late, realizing what I had done.

I intended to say What.

Instead what came out was merely W-. The moment I stimulated my throat the voice bounced back and shut myself up, adding to the sounds of that single footstep I had taken. They bounded together like a constant drone, each amplifying themselves as often as possible, growing ever louder and causing me more and more to screech in pain.

I could hear each sound perfectly, and I hated it. I wished I could be deaf so I would not be tormented by my own stupidity. And all the while I sat there kneeling in pain from the horrific sounds I could hear myself over on the left sitting down with a chicken bone in my hand, my teeth gnawing on the open ends of it, eagerly breaking apart the bone and sucking the marrow dry.

And then the sounds just suddenly stopped. As suddenly as they had echoed into my mind they had echoed out and before I knew it, my hands were no longer holding on to my ears. I was able to concentrate and then I could see ahead of me my other selves standing or sitting, watching my own reflections bounce onto each plane and onto another plane. When I looked, I saw thousands of myself... no, millions. I could not stop seeing them for they were always there, whether small or large images of myself, whether I be looking left or right, in front of myself and behind, looking in all directions where I looked.

Across from me, though, was another sight, a spectacle to behold. There I was again before my eyes, like me eating the chicken bone, but now I was naked. And naked as I was, I was clothed with bumps and scars, cuts as well as bleeding thumbs and concussions made black under the light of the sphere. Bruises splattered endlessly on my skin like a child's paint project; they were littered all over my skin randomly, making me more purple than light brown. I did not touch myself; my countenance was still as was the rest of my body, and I stood there facing myself in all my glorious pain, my heart racing to envision such pain before my very eyes. It looked as if my arms ached as I held them up, my legs straining to keep myself straight and tall, and even then my eyes were blackened and I doubted at all if I could have seen anything.

So I looked away again and then I saw myself in another plane sitting there with my face looking to the side. I don't know what I could be doing, though a pen was in my hand, furiously tapping its cap onto the planar wall. Tap, tap, tap, the sounds went, un-echoing through the walls and harmless to my ears. Tap, tap tap, the sounds went as the pen's cap rammed against the wall many times, my head staring at the pen, both of them, just looking at it as it continued to tap, tap, tap, like a clock's tick and tock. Only they don't tick or tock. They only tap, tap, tap.

Tap, tap, tap, the sounds echoed through my mind and my teeth gnashed together in the mindless pain of a metronome that arose from nowhere at all. I stared at myself from all angles, just looking at me no matter where I seemed to be looking. It did not matter where I looked; the only image I saw was me. And one of me was running with a backpack on my back, always running to the metronome of the tapping of the pen, step after step on my feet. There were shoes on my feet, but their soles had all been ground away and it left nothing but bruised feet and red ankles. Step, step, step, tap, tap, tap, step, step, step. I never removed my backpack, never slowed down, and always travelled in a hurry, and then I wondered why I ran like that in school when there was no reason to. I began to wonder if I fabricated the need to hurry to all locations, and I had this sudden urge to want to shout out to myself, "Slow down!" but I knew better. Still, I reached to him, just wishing I would slow down, but no, I did not. Of course not. Why would I listen to myself? I knew what I did was right, but I knew that what I did was right, too, so I could tell me to stop and I could keep running, and if I did both, nothing would be done. So I said nothing and nothing was done still. Step, tap, step, tap, step, tap.

And then I made the largest mistake I could have ever done. It didn't seem like a mistake at the time I had done it, but by the time I had done it, I wished I hadn't. But I did, and I began to think of how I would live for the remainder of my life sitting there in a kneeling position while having nothing to stare at but myself and nothing to hear but the tapping of my pen and the stepping of my soles on nothing but planes with a backpack on my back and never having enough time to stop for even a brief moment to look inside what I was carrying inside that dark navy blue backpack with the straps all torn near the shoulders and the handle frayed on all sides. The backpack was old and whatever was inside could fall from the pack at any moment. But I never turned around to look, I never thought about taking my backpack off. My only thought was running, and that was the sound it made. Running produced sounds I did not like, but I would not stop, and I could not get used to them.

I could not get used to the sounds of tapping, of stepping, and most of all of the picking sounds another one of me produced when my fingernails picked my other fingernails. I stood there right in the open, standing straight up and tall like my other selves, only I was looking at my hands that I placed in front of my body, both of them, my fingernails digging into my other nails, making this slight clicking sound as the nail slid off the other nail, along with it miniature scraps of dirt that was flicked off the instant the opportunity arose.

The sounds drove me crazy, and I could say nothing because if I did I would be driven crazy. But I was being driven crazy nonetheless, and the more I felt I was being driven crazy the louder the sounds were, the faster the tapping sounds became, the more steps I took in any given time, and the more I just felt like I had to do something about it.

So I did all that I could do. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the people who I had known who did not look like me. I tried to look for someone who did not have dark hair, who did not have slanted eyes, dark skin and someone that didn't run everywhere they went. I tried to think of a being who I could focus my final moments on and when I did, I saw her. And when I saw her, I realized I had done all that I could have done. And there was only one thing left to do.

I died.

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