"Who are you?"
A blossoming teenager, a pubescent young man gradually growing into adulthood, but first he had to take the only step towards self-realization and self-acceptance. Along with puberty came the awkward awakening of hormones, attraction, frustration, anger, awkwardness, rage, and vehemently embracing the violent rebellion in his heart.
Alone at night, he and his best friend sat side by side, eyes gazing down at the porn mags they'd jacked from his dad, admiring the curves their classmates hadn't quite yet developed before their eyes met. For one brief moment, our hero misinterpreted his friend's eye contact, and in one awkward moment, their lips met momentarily. Rough, dry, chapped, and a cut from getting in a fight earlier that day. Another fight was to come. A fist on his jaw, and an empty room later, his head remained sunk as he let out a soft sigh in frustration. An important life lesson: do not kiss without permission.
"You must be cold," he heard a voice similar to his comment in the room. Glancing up, he looked around without seeing a face in the room. Just him. "You must be shaking," the voice continued.
Glancing around in confusion, his eyes landed on the wall. There it hung, his simple mirror. His mother had bought him not long ago so he could tend to his blossoming acne, a gift from his awakening puberty, in the privacy of his own room instead of scrubbing his face without much luck in the bathroom when his brothers needed to take a leak or groom.
Slowly, he approached the mirror, staring at it when he saw his face reflected in the mirror. His blond hair brown, his brown eyes blue, the mirror's reflection with its pale skin seemed an inversion of his true self. Glancing down at his own tan skin, he momentarily felt as though he were looking at an imperfect copy, or some superior existence that passed him in every way. No, it was just a fake. He was the true champion.
Still, he couldn't help but wonder... Reaching out to that stranger the mirror reflected, he spoke clearly.
"Mirror, Mirror on the wall, please answer."
"What should I do to become someone who is not myself?"
"It's so easy!"
With that, the mirror ceased all responses, merely leaving the teen in solitude with his true reflection looking back at him.
He knew what he had to do. Before long he'd dyed that blond hair a dark brown, though occasionally his roots would show and he'd need to reapply his mask to make sure he was hidden from plain sight and the other person was all that showed. Blue contacts, and he'd stopped napping on the beach and playing soccer so his skin was less tan.
By high school our hero was dead.
Taking a drag from his cigarette like all the other cool conformist bitches, he looked out towards the soccer field. His cleats were long since abandoned, having been thrown away back when he'd first spoken to the mirror. Exhaling a cloud of smoke, he idly thought of how a cesarean section on a goat probably produced the same effect. He hadn't even noticed his biology teacher staring down at him as he remembered the bastard he'd killed and covered to get to where he was, to think such deep thoughts about goats.
"You're coming with me," the teacher said lowly, grabbing the youth by his shoulder and dragging him into his office.
An hour of arguing, lecturing, and unproductive events lead to his parents being called and then an hour and a half of his mother yelling at him after they'd gotten home.
A child's protest, "But other kids do it too and their parents don't stop them."
Grass is always greener on the other side.
A mom's response, "They are them and we are us."
The punishment was grounding, and no escape for a week aside from class. He'd have to go cold turkey. Frowning, our hero plopped down on his bed head first, staring into his pillow until he heard that familiar voice not unlike his speak to him for the first time in years.
"How's it going, old friend? Making such a glum face is poison to the body," the voice spoke.
To that he just laughed. Like cigarettes were any better.
"Take it easy and try taking a big, deep breath."
One without smoke, huh? He tried it, inhaling deeply, only to wheeze when he felt that uncomfortable tension in his lungs.
"It must be painful."
"You must be writhing."
Groaning, he rolled off his bed and stomped towards the mirror in front of him. His eyes were partially open as he stared at the face in the mirror. Just like him. His eyes were swollen from not sleeping well for far too long, his teeth partially yellowed from the cigarettes, and his nails dirty. Staring deeper he saw the signs of his true self showing. Thank god he'd killed his skin, now pale and pasty as any basement-dweller, and his eyes were safe with the blue contacts, but the blond roots were starting to show again.
...This wasn't who he wanted to be. Making a fist, he punched the mirror, and as a crack split down the center, the reflection changed to what he was once before. Blond hair, brown eyes, tan skin, only the face was a bit older and matured by time.
"Mirror, Mirror on the wall, please tell me."
"What should I do to become someone who is myself?"
"It's so easy!"
Our hero took out his contacts, and in time his hair grew out and returned to its natural color, and he ceased treating the sun like a plague. His skin tanned, and physically he looked just as the face he saw in the cracked mirror whenever he looked at it.
He finished high school. He went to college. Most of his friends had jobs as graduation approached, but he hadn't even been given an interview, and it certainly wasn't from a lack of trying. Was he just not the right person? Was there something unemployable about him? Frowning, he sat in his room, looking at yet another email stating he wasn't the best qualified for the job and not to bother contacting them since his resume was on file.
That damned voice. "You must be scared. It must be hard for you. Then don't mumble, don't. How about saying it clearly?"
"I want to be free of you. 'They are them and we are us.' These were my mom's words, but if you take a better look, the grass on the other side is just as brown," he said plainly, his mind trailing to his friends who would be working for much less than those who had been hired the previous year.
It wasn't much better for anyone else.
"Then don't mumble, don't. How about saying it clearly?" that damned voice repeated again.
Frowning, our hero stood up, grabbing his soccer cleats from beside his bed. He walked to the mirror, seeing the face of that brown-haired stranger looking back at him again. Eyes narrowing, our hero spoke to the mirror for the third time.
"Mirror, Mirror on the wall, please disappear already."
"I am me and you are you. Isn't that right? It's so easy."
Cleat in hand, he smashed the mirror time and time again, the image reflected flickering from his true self to the mask he'd used to try and hide himself from the rest of the world. Shattering it violently, that rebellion he'd once embraced so passionately burned in his chest again, and again he beat the mirror with the shards slowly falling from the frame and crashing to the ground. Each fragment reflected another stranger, but he wouldn't have it. Violently, he beat the mirror again and again, fragments turned filaments, the shards sticking to the cleat and his skin as he stared down at it. Deep, heavy breaths without smoke lingered in his lungs. He stared down at his masterpiece, the destruction before him, and he sighed in relief and awe at the beauty he'd created.
It's so easy.