My Open Mind

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I looked at him as he held out a single mirror, the size of it being about the palm of my hand. It was dusty, and even

had a small scratch on it. But not a crack; it had been inspected very thoroughly. Had it been a crack something awful would have happened. Inconceivable things would have taken place if there had been a crack and someone used it. Everybody was talking about it. Everywhere I turned there were posters, people gossiping, hours of it on the news, in movies, books, magazines, family discussions, billboards, you name it. It was the recent obsession that’s been sweeping (my mother says its been plaguing) the country. No, not even. More like sweeping the world. The idea of it spun me in a whirlwind of confusion. Suddenly, I didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t, who we were and who they were. Suddenly we were one, we were together, living harmoniously. And it all started with this mirror. Not the specific mirror that I was holding. No, the original one was far more precious than this petty one. The original was probably in a museum somewhere under layers upon layers of thick glass, with those red beams surrounding it and about ten guards pacing back and forth outside the steel door that was dead bolted I’d guess fifteen times. But it all worked the same, the mirrors. And here he was, explaining the physics of it to me, as if he had this weird notion that I would understand what he was talking about. By explaining it, somehow that would make me more comfortable with doing this, would convince me to agree if I only understood how it worked. I didn’t care how it worked. That wasn’t what was bothering me. It was the whole idea, the feeling of not being in control, the feeling of being out of my element. Besides, I had watched hours of explanations on TV and read about the phenomenon enough times that I had a vague idea of how the process worked. So it wasn’t the mechanics that was making me shy away, that was making me question if I really wanted to go through with this. You would think this handheld mirror was Cocaine, or Opium, maybe even Heroin. But no, it was none of these things. It was a mirror that I bought, oh maybe about five years back at a cheap outlet store. I needed a small mirror for gym, so I could see if I looked alright before embarking to my next class. It even came with a compact brush that opened up on the opposite lid of the mirror, so when I opened the container, on the bottom lid was a small mirror, and on the other side was a built in brush. I thought it was pretty crafty when I was younger. But now that feeling of a good purchase was replaced by fear, building nervousness, and anxiety. “Look,” he said, pressing the mirror into my sweaty hand. He didn’t seem to notice. “You just need an open mind. Do you even know how many people have tried this?” He paused waiting, when there was silence he continued. “Thousands. No, not even thousands. Billions. Possibly a trillion.” “Yeah?” My eyes widened sarcastically as I slammed the mirror shut. “And how many get lost?” He frowned. “Do you know that too?” “Sally, Sally,” He said my name as if he were scolding me. I crossed my leg and looked downward, casting a ‘don’t-talk-to-me-in-that-tone look.’ He opened the mirror again as he talked. “Do you know how many wonders this holds? Do you?” I looked down at the mirror just to see my reflection and smirked. “All I see is me. And if you’re referring to me as you talk about all of the wonders it holds, let’s not go down that route, because I’m not feeling the whole romance thing between you and I.” He ignored my sarcastic remark and took out a small container of bright purple powder. It was hard to ignore the fact of how beautiful it was when the powder shimmered in the light. I stopped talking. I stopped breathing. I just looked, stared more like it, at the powder, knowing full well what it was but never having the experience of seeing it in real life rather than

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on the TV screen or newspaper pages. They were right: all those market guru’s that publicize this; as stupid and cliché as it sounds, simply being in the presence of the powder took my breath away. He dipped the tips of his fingers in the pile ever so lightly, dabbing them in the bright purple powder. He smiled at me and slowly put his index finger on the mirrors surface. I gasped, as by doing this, it caused a ripple in the glass, and I watched half in horror, half in awe as it kept going into the mirror. He turned the mirror around so I could see there was nothing coming out on the back side. He was actually inside of the mirror. Then, he gently stuck both his hands into the mirror and stopped about halfway down his wrists, parting the surface so I could see inside. I looked down at the rippling metallic curtain and saw an explosion of color. A rush of happiness swept up from inside the mirror into me, and I felt my mouth slack into a cheeky smile that I could not control. I looked at Jake who was smiling back at me, he had me now and he knew it. He held out the container and I mimicked him by dipping my own fingers into it. The powder was a sharp tingling sensation, unlike anything I had ever touched before. I could feel it seeping into my skin. I looked down at the mirror that was now swirling with bright colors, flashing, making a big show of it. With one last look at Jake I reached into the mirror. It seemed as though I hadn’t really done anything at all, as if I was just reaching into air. I paused momentarily, having the last fleeting moment of hesitations when I felt myself being pushed into the mirror. My heart jumped, my stomach lunged into my throat, and I wrapped my arms tighter around myself as I fell into the abyss.

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The wind was sealing my eyes shut. I felt the screams of silence whip against my ear drums, rush into my mouth, nose, eyes. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think. All I could do was feel. Feel the air ripping against my body, feel the hair on my arms and neck stick straight up, feel my insides lodge in my throat, feel the fear of not knowing what was going on. It went on forever it seemed like- me falling. I tried to think of something else, something to distract me. Warm water welled inside my eyes as I tried desperately to search within my mind for an escape. My teeth scraped up against each other from grinding my mouth as a result of stress, fear, and the attempts to control the rising need to vomit. From the depths of my throat came a pathetic attempt of sound, of speaking, to ask where Jake was, to ask what was happening and when it would stop. And then the wind stopped. I felt myself plunge like a bullet into water. I kept falling at the rate I was while in the air. The water was not able to slow me down from the momentum I picked up while free falling through the sky. I pried my eyes open an inch trying to get a good picture of how deep I was, but it was so blurry it didn’t matter. Fear overwhelmed me as grappled with the fact that I was running out of air. My lungs were scorching with the burning desire for oxygen. The need for air was increasing at a terrifying rate. I stuck out my arms and flapped them upward, but doing this hardly helped me slow down, let alone try to swim to the top. The struggle was slowing down as I was running out of strength. I was coming to a stop finally, but it didn’t matter at that point. I was hopelessly lost in the water, not knowing how far I had to go till the surface and knowing full well it was impossible for me to reach the top before my air ran out even if I had been a gifted swimmer, which as I had managed to prove countless times, I wasn’t. The crack of vision I had from squinting my eyes in the thick murky water was starting to get blurrier and blurrier until everything meshed into one and despite my efforts, my eyes started sealing shut once again, closing me further into darkness and isolation. This was a mistake. He was wrong. I couldn’t believe that I had let Jake convince me into doing this with him. He had only done it just that once, and I only knew him by a weak connection; a friend of a friend of a friend. But we had to work on a project together, got talking about it, and now here I was, stuck maybe miles under water with a depleting air supply. Asshole. I’m going to die because of him, because of this, because of this stupid idea, this stupid concept people kept buying into. My eyes were completely closed now; I had stopped swimming all together and was perfectly still floating like a preserved body in the water. All I could hear was the rush of liquid flow inside my ear drums and the distant sound of a fish swimming nearby. The girl in the white dress was running around in the green grass again. Her laugh addictive, on an entirely different level of adorableness than most children. Her light brown hair framed her rosy cheeks making the people around her stop in awe and visualize what a pretty girl she would soon grow up to be. My throat started making involuntary gurgling noises.

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She was running around in the grass, playing, having everyone admire her innocence. She had left something in the street; the necklace that she had just gotten for her birthday. It was the necklace she hadn’t taken off (until today) ever since her father gently tied it around her neck. The one with the white flower at the center that was strung on a thin black rope. I reached for the surface desperately, hoping that maybe somehow I still had a chance of reaching air. Don’t go there, I screamed in my head. Don’t go over there. The girl was racing towards the edge of the lawn (just the edge) and picked up the necklace. There was a tight squeeze on my arm cutting off the circulation; I was drifting away, upwards. Maybe I was flying away to heaven. She held the necklace high above her head, with that pretty little smile spread across her face. She held it up and looked at her admirers, showing them what she found, what she was capable of, that she could get it all by herself. But they looked at her not with happiness anymore, but with horror, as they watched that Ford Explorer from behind her. I was going faster now, there was pain on my arm, but I didn’t care. Nothing mattered anymore. Her body flung lifelessly into the air. The necklace shot from her small hand back onto the lawn safe and sound, with a trickle of blood running down the flowers petal.

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Pressure. “Twenty-seven…twenty-eight…twenty-nine...thirty.” Release. I felt an overwhelming rush of water project from the depths of my stomach up through my chest up my throat and come shooting out of my mouth. I sat up straight spurting water like the sprinkler my family owned to try and revive our helplessly dead grass after the legendary heat strokes of New England. “Jesus.” I heard Jake mutter and place his hand on my back, supporting me as I choked on the remaining water left dripping down my throat. My voice was beginning to get raspy from the coughing. After a few minutes of heaving in gulps of cool air I started to notice my surroundings. We were sitting on a beach, it was empty apart from the two of us. As Jake came over and sat next to me I noticed something. The ocean was blood red. “Where am I?” I murmured to myself too quiet he didn’t have a chance of hearing. I heard Jake exhale an exasperated sigh as he looked at me. He started saying something; but I wasn’t paying any attention. Why the hell was the ocean red? Not just red. Blood red. Deep, sinister, red. It smelt like blood, too. I slapped my wet hand to my forehead as a spasm of pain shot through my brain. I closed my eyes in shock. There she was again. Running around in that damn grass. “Sally.” Jake said concerned shaking my shoulder. I squeezed my eyes shut for a few minutes more then answered. “Yeah?” He turned his body so he could look at me straight in the eye. “Are you okay?” I let a soft moan of pain slip through my lips before mumbling yes. He put his hand on my shoulder. It was so warm; it sent a wave of comfort through that part of my body. I shuddered again. “I don’t think you are. Here,” He said slowly pressing against my shoulder so I would lay down in the hot sand. “Lay down.” The sand began to envelope me in a small casket of warmth. The throbbing in my head started slowly fading, but as I closed my eyes all I could see was her. Running through that damn grass. We sat there in silence for a few minutes, listening to the ocean and the squawking seagulls and all the other sea life that inhabits the ocean. Before long Jake laid down next to me. The sand stuck to his body due to the moisture he accumulated while swimming in the sea. I turned my head so I could look at him. “Where are we?” I asked. He turned his head to me. I never noticed how green his eyes were. “In my dream world..” He said sitting up. He ran his hand through his thick black hair and shook his head so that he sprayed me with water. “Well,” he said turning back to me “not my actual dream.” “Well then what is it?” He laughed while scooping up a handful of sand. We both watched as he dumped it out slowly through the cracks between his fingers. “I thought you said you ‘knew all about it.’” He said impersonating me. I sat up and rolled my eyes.

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“I never said that.” I said coolly crossing my arms while gazing ahead to the horizon. “Well then what did you say?” “I said that I had a vague idea of what happened, not that I knew exactly where I would be and what I would call it.” He didn’t say anything; we both looked on for a few minutes. “Why is the ocean red?” I asked. “You know something,” he paused and then hopped to his feet. “I really don’t know.” He outstretched a hand which I took. He yanked me to my feet and started walking. “Wait,” I said. “Wait, where are you going?” he looked over his shoulder and yelled something that I couldn’t decipher what exactly it was. But, I followed him anyways, not wanting to be left alone in an unknown world. “Hey.” I said breathlessly. He had gotten far in the few seconds that he had a head start. “Jake.” He shot his head back at me and yelled at me from a distance. “You’re going to have to catch up, ‘cause I’m not slowing down.” I jogged up to him, my feet sinking in the sand with every step I took. “Jake” I asked with an edge on the tip of my tongue once I finally caught up. “I almost drowned a couple of minutes ago. Excuse me if I’m out of breath and found it hard to keep up.” The beach seemed like it would never end. We walked, and walked, and walked, and kept on walking for what, a half an hour? Maybe more. But then again, I’m a lousy shot when it comes to estimating time with a mental clock, so I could be off. Maybe it was the fact that we walked in dead silence that made it seem like time was dragging on. Whatever the reason, it was getting uncomfortable, to say the least. We were approaching a half broken down shack, at the edge of the beach. It’s roof was shaking and some of the shackles from the house were casually blowing in the wind, as if they weren’t supposed to be attached to the house at all. The door was flapping out and kept thumping against the house, chipping what paint was left in that spot. As Jake kept walking I stopped and folded my arms against my chest. “I hope you know.” I said loudly making Jake turn around and stop as I pointed to the house. “I’m not going in there.” “Why not?” “Because it looks like it’ll fall down at any second.” He started walking again. “It won’t.” I ran up to him, and grabbed his shoulder spinning him back around to face me. “How do you know?” “I just know.” He cocked his head. “Trust me.” “Trust you? Why would I do that-“ “Because I’m all you got.” He let that sink in a moment and I realized he was right; what else would I do if not follow him? Where would I go? And most importantly, how would I get home without him? “And also because its pretty obvious you’ve trusted me up to this point, so why stop now, right?”

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Jake continued onward and I, of course, followed reluctantly, as if there were an invisible leash tied around my neck that he held firmly in his hand. When we got to the house (if that’s even what you’d call it) Jake stopped just before the door and stared. I’m figuring he was calculating how to go about getting inside. “It’s not quite finished.” He yelled over the pounding door. I nodded skeptically, waiting for him to do something. He must have gotten frustrated or something because finally he simply ripped off the door from the hinges and tossed the decrepit slab of wood to the ground. He wiped his hands on the front of his cargo pants and motioned to the gaping hole where I proceeded to enter the house. There weren’t many options for me to go, so I plopped down on a worn down wooden chair that rested by a table in the center of the room. Jake followed me and pulled up the other chair that sat directly across from the wobbly circular table I was at. He looked at the hole and I watched as the wall began stitching itself back up, as the two ends of the walls slowly reached across the open space to connect together and piece itself back into one part. The howling wind became less and less obnoxious when finally it stopped all together. He turned back to me and grinned. “Pretty cool, right?” “It’s a little weird, don’t you think?” He cocked his head and I pressed further. “I mean, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It’s a little hard being here.” There was an awkward pause. His mind was clearly elsewhere. “Listen.” Jake said at last leaning on his elbows towards me. “I know you’ve been having a hard time back home, and if you want to come here, just to escape or whatever, that’s fine with me.” Back home? How the hell did he know about my life back home? Grace. Grace must have told him. She was the friend of a friend. How dare she. Who else has she told? I sat back in my chair angrily, crossing my arms against my chest so tight it was difficult to breathe. That’s what I did when I felt like crying. I use pain as a distraction by doing something like pinching myself or pulling my hair etc., so that way I focus on the pain rather than on what is that is about to make me cry. I hate it when people can see my emotion. Sensing that he said the wrong thing, Jake quickly changed the topic. “It’s beautiful here.” I looked up and rolled my eyes. “It is.” He said more excitedly, seeing that he caught my interest. “Yeah, gorgeous. What with the bloody sea and this decaying house.” He narrowed his eyes. “It’s beautiful when you put the work into it. And besides, I wasn’t talking about that.” “Well then what were you talking about?” “The whole concept of it, you know?” I shook my head. “The idea that the people that live here aren’t satisfied with having everything they want all the time, of having perfect lives and complete happiness. The theory that happiness means nothing without pain.” He sat back and kicked his feet on the table making it rattle. I firmly wrapped my hand around the edge to stabilize it. He fished around in his pocket then brought up a pack of cigarettes and lighter dumping them on the table. He held the unlit cigarette loosely to his mouth, it moving with every word he said.

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“You mind?” he asked with the lighter already next to the end of the stick. I shook my head while breathing in the fumes the cigarette gave off. I squeezed my eyes shut again. They made me homesick. There was a small drop of blood on my arm now from where my fingernails dug into my skin. “I just don’t understand what they are-“ “But you don’t have to!” He repositioned making the table (once again) shake beneath my hands. “That’s the beauty in it! They’re just beings, right? I mean of course when they enter our world they are immediately transformed into people, but here, here they just are, no restrictions no confinements. But what I can’t seem to wrap my head around is that they just throw that all away to have the ‘privilege’ of pain. It fascinates me.” I thought about that for a minute, the idea that we take pain for granted. I couldn’t help but smile at how foolish that was. If I didn’t have pain I know my life would be a hell of a lot better. “It doesn’t bother you that they exist in our world, when they aren’t necessarily human?” He shrugged his shoulders. “Why would it? They do me no harm, they look human. For all you know I could be one of them.” “Well clearly you’re not one of them.” He raised his eyebrows while inhaling a particularly long drag. “This place would be professionally done and a masterpiece. It’s kind of…run down.” He laughed at me, smoke billowing out in puffs. “I haven’t had much time to work on it.” He explained and sat there wistfully looking at me while flicking the ashes that clung onto the end of his cigarette. At last he said “I know how badly you want an escape, Sally. You can have everything you want here, and when you want to go back to your real life nothing will have changed, you’ll be able to continue living that life.” That seemed very out of the blue. Why was he going so far out of his way to help me? “Why are you being so nice to me?” He shrugged his shoulders while absent mindedly rubbing his left arm, the one he used to rip the door off the house earlier. “You need it, I guess. I can tell when a person needs some help, and you do. And this is the perfect way for me to help you.” I looked at him skeptically. I didn’t trust him and he knew that. “Look, if it makes you feel any better I will give you this world, so then at any point you want me gone, I’ll be gone. In an instant, literally. Remember? This place is a reflection of what you want. So what you say goes whether I like it or not.” That seemed pretty convincing. I didn’t have to think about it more than a few seconds before I agreed to stay. It was so perfect. It only took a minute or two to transfer the world to me. I don’t know what he did or how to explain it really, but I felt the power and I knew, I knew it was now mine. After he asked me the question; “What do you want?” It was such an easy question I started laughing.

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I couldn’t open my eyes it was so bright. The throbbing pain ceased only when my eyes were slammed shut, yet even then the brightness seeped through the thin twitchy skin that veiled my eyes, making me bite my lip with discomfort. It was as if I was staring directly into the sun. Eventually I was able to adjust just enough to allow myself a small peephole, a slim crack of vision. I saw tile, white gleaming tile. “Sally?” Hearing Jakes voice brought me back. We had just been discussing the world, the layout, what was important to me when I crumpled in my seat and fell to the floor as if I had been sedated. I sat up straight pressing my slick palm to my forehead. I gasped in pain as the top of my arm started searing. I grabbed hold of it quickly, trying to suppress the urge to scream. What was happening to me? “What’s wrong?” he asked anxiously. This was the second time today I passed out, if that’s what you’d like to call it. I did black out, right? I mean what else would you call that? “I’m fine, I just need a drink.” I spat out in a stream of unflattering stutters. My trembling hand reached out for the table where a glass of water appeared on the surface. How handy this world was becoming. Jake looked to where I was reaching for and snatched the glass so quickly water sloshed over the brim. He handed it to me and I drank it greedily, it dribbling down my cheek and my neck. When I was done I sat the empty cup on the floor it rattling due to my clumsiness and I laid back down. The light in the center of the room was obnoxiously bright; I tried closing my eyes but every time I did waves of pain followed by nausea would overcome me and I would have to sit back up. “You should probably head up to bed.” Jake sounded concerned. He grabbed my arm and lifted me up to my feet. I was so woozy that I fell on top of him. “I’m not tired.” I shut my eyes tighter as light was becoming more painful. “I just hurt.” I sounded pathetic. “I know,” he said swinging my legs up so he could carry me up the stairs. “If you want, we can continue discussing everything until you fall asleep. He sat me down on my bed where I leaned up against the headboard. The pain was starting to slowly fade away. We heard a laugh, a faint bust distinctive laugh. I whipped my head to the doorway seeing the girl as she ran away. Jake looked at me. “Well that didn’t take long.” He said almost teasingly. I wasn’t paying any attention to him. I sat crouched on my bed, knees tucked under my arms and eyes wide with fear. Did that just happen, or was that in my head? “What’s her name?” Jake asked. “Cecil.” I said not taking my eyes off the door. “But everyone called her Cici.” After a bit of silence I turned around and looked at him. “Why did you say ‘what’s her name’? You should have said what was. She’s dead.” “Not here she’s not. Well clearly she’s not since we both just saw her.” He let that sink in for a moment. That my baby sister was here and ‘alive’. I didn’t know how I felt about that. “Sally.” He put his hand on mine and squeezed it. “What happened?” I closed my eyes and thought back. “It was her birthday party. She had just turned six years old. We were all preoccupied when she ran into the street, and then she got hit by a car. Died instantly.” I was quiet for a minute remembering everything. My

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mind was consumed with a flood of memories. “Within the next three months my mom abandoned me and my dad, and my dad is now spiraling into alcoholism. That was a year ago.” He rubbed my arm for support and I fell into him, curling against his chest. “You know Sal, it’s all going to be okay.” I shook my head. It wasn’t going to be okay. “Cici’s here now, and I bet when you wake up you’re parents will be here too.” I sat up. “What do you mean?” “I mean that you get what you want here regardless if it breaks simple rules back in our world such as the rule that death is concrete. If you want something here you get it even if what you want is dead back in the real world. And it seems to me that all you want is your family back. So I’m pretty confident that sometime tomorrow your parents will show up too. Maybe even tonight. Although I doubt it, because Cecil is trying to form tonight, so your parents will probably just show up tomorrow.” My stomach dropped. I was horrified. But what horrified me even more was the fact that part of me wasn’t repulsed by this idea of bringing my dead sister back to life, part of me was excited. I should have left right then, get out of that world because it was disturbing. But then again this was my family we were talking about. This was Cecil. “What’s the matter?” Jake asked while cocking his head. “I just find this a bit disturbing.” He was utterly confused. “Why? What’s so disturbing about having everything you want?” He was getting defensive. I swallowed. He didn’t understand, and now he was beginning to scaring me. “You do want to see your family again, right?” “Of course I do but-“ “But nothing! If you want to see your family again this is how you go about doing that. Especially Cecil; I mean for God’s sake Sally she’s dead.” He paused taking out another cigarette and held the lighter up to it as he continued. “She’s dead, dead as a fucking doornail. Don’t you want to see her again?” I nodded as a tear slid down my cheek. “Well alright then. This is how you do that.”

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I couldn’t sleep. For one, I was completely creeped out by the prospect of my dead sister running around the house. But there was another part that seemed to trump my fear of Cecil. There were those lights, or I guess rather it was my sensitivity to the light. They were back, ripping apart the frail nerves of my eyes or at least that’s what it felt like. I rolled around in my bed pressing my face further and further into my pillow, having the cushion wrap around my face. I was back again, back to wherever I was in the kitchen when I blacked out before. I opened my eyes and saw that tile, the white gleaming tile. It took a minute or two, but I bared the pain long enough for me to be able to open my eyes fully again. I looked around. I was in a room, all I could see was the white, shiny, obnoxious tile. To the side was a metal tray that was full of what, were those syringes? My arm started hurting again, the top of my arm. Where the hell was I? And then I was back. Jake was shaking my arm. “Wake up.” Jake said. “It’s morning.” How long had I been sleeping? I didn’t even know I had fallen asleep. Why did he always have to wake me up during those dreams, I wanted to finish it. “Sal.” He said as I sat up. “Your parents are here.” My hands started shaking. “Where?” “Downstairs.” I ripped the sheets off me and sprinted downstairs. I suddenly didn’t care if this was my dead sister or if this wasn’t my real mother or if my dad wasn’t actually sober or if all of this was slightly morbid. Jake was right. This was what I wanted. When I got downstairs there they were, all three of them, sitting at the table. They all looked up upon my arrival. I stopped at the base of the stairs. They were there, just like Jake said they would be. Cici got up from her chair and ran over to hug me, and my parents followed. They were happy again. I had missed this. I heard Jake follow down the stairs, and stand there to watch our family reunion. I was about to introduce him when it happened again. The lights became unusually bright and I felt my legs give out. This wasn’t normal. I looked to Jake for help, maybe he knew what was wrong with me. I heard the voices of my family and Jake mesh into one and slowly fade out. I was there again. Shocker. My eyes had adjusted so that it wasn’t blinding anymore only burned. I stood up and looked around again but already knew what to expect. The floor squeaked underneath my shoes. I touched the walls, it was soft, padded. I turned around and there was Jake. He stood there, only he was fading. Almost like a dying battery. I stepped closer to him. “What is going on?” I asked. He pulled out another cigarette and lit it. Only this time I didn’t smell the fumes. “Well,” he said clicking his lighter shut. “I guess you were gonna find out sometime, might as well tell you now.” “Tell me what now?” I folded my arms and clutched my hand into a tight fist to prevent my hand from shaking more. “We’re in your cell right now.” I looked at him. I didn’t understand. I was trying to piece this all together, to make some sort of sense from what he was saying. “This is your reality Sally. This is a mental hospital. You were

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committed to here nearly three months ago. Don’t you remember?” I shook my head. I didn’t remember any of this. I started to panic as he continued. “Think about it,” he said. “You don’t remember anything before you went into the mirror, do you? You don’t remember that day or even how you got there?” I thought back to that day. Why couldn’t I remember? “Because it didn’t exist.” He said, completing my thought. He stepped closer to me, he was fading quicker now. “You created an escape Sally, to get away from all of this. And you got it. Everything you’ve experienced back there was just part of your mind, a figment of your imagination including me.” He looked down at himself and then waved his cigarette. “That’s why I’m fading because I’m in the real world but I’m only art of your mind. And that’s also why you can’t smell the cigarette by the way, in case you were wondering.” I inched away until I hit the soft wall with my back and slid down until I was sitting down rocking methodically back and forth while my fingernails dug into my skin. He was right. I was beginning to remember. He walked over to me and bent down so his face was close to mine. “You have a choice, you know. You can come back with me.” I shook my head that was now slick with a even mix of tears and sweat. “Please don’t do that, please don’t make me chose between your world and the real one.” “Why not?” “Because you don’t exist!” I yelled over my sobs. I began to hear the click of nurse’s shoes. I’m sure they heard me. Talking to myself. I shuddered as it dawned on me how insane I must look. “It doesn’t matter.” He said. He was barely visible now. “Reality is for the weak, the uncreative, the blind, the sad. You’re not any of that, and you can accomplish remarkable things in here, and be truly happy.” He leaned in with a look of genuine confusion. “Why would you chose here when you can chose our world? Your world? You’ve been given an astounding gift, Sal. The gift of insanity.” I thought about that for a minute. The nurse was closer now. I assumed she had some kind of sedation or medication for my outburst. “The saying the dead lives only in your mind we take very seriously. When you’re in your mind, you can be with them. A couple pinches here and there, a couple blackouts, but eventually that’ll all fade away and you’ll be there without any reminders of reality. You have a beautiful mind, why would you waste it on a world that can give you nothing?” He was winning me over. It seemed pretty great to me. He looked at me as he tossed his cigarette to the floor and stepped on it with his shoe, although I hadn’t realized until now how unnecessary that was. “So, what will you do?” he asked, confidence ringing in his voice. “Stay in this box and struggle for the rest of your life, or follow me back into your mind?” I thought about that for a few minutes more. What did this life have to offer me? He was right. He was always right. Why stay? I nodded relaying my answer, and then somehow, in some way that I cannot begin to fully describe to you I receded back to the corners of my mind.

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