REFLECTIONS IN THE MIRROR by TEIYA OLOILOLE



Hello, Faith, it is happening again.

What is happening again? The concern in her voice even from the other end of the call is ominous. A heavy sigh escapes from her end and for a moment sits there between us like an unwanted strip of meat stuck between the teeth.

They are back. I finally manage to whisper. I quickly scan the room afraid they will pop up from the shadows mistaking my words for a beckoning.

Again? I can feel the texture of the fear in her voice. It is tough and rough like uncombed hair. How long has it been going on?

I am leaving for the office. I ignore her questions and grab my handbag on my way out of the house. The two bedroom apartment feels too hollow. And the two images staring back at me in the bathroom mirror was the final straw. They have marked their territory.

I will be there...

I drop my phone and it lands on the gravel with a soft thud as I fumble in my bag for my car keys. She has hang up on me by the time I bend down to pick it. I put the car in gear and skid out of the parking lot without bothering to put on my driving sandals.

The reinforcements are on their way.

The thought plays repeatedly in my head as I furiously tap the steering wheel doing my best not to lose attention from the road.

Twenty minutes later.

The parking lot of the ten storey building housing my office is empty except for a black sedan belonging to the security firm in charge of our building. I parallel park and with quick steps head towards the main entrance. My office is on the seventh floor. Seven being my lucky number and its glass facade facing eastwards gave the building a beautiful glow during sunrise and always made my early mornings much more bearable. It was a perfect fit. And a girl has to have her corner office. The night guard gives me a salute and I nod slightly in his direction as I head for the lifts.

Martha N. K.
Psychologist

I stare at the words on top of my door as I turn the key in the lock. I cannot help but feel like a fraud. I walk in and head straight to my leather chair that sits behind the C-shaped, brown mahogany desk. I slump into the chair and swing to face the outside. I don't want to have to stare at the green sofa that my patients use during our sessions.

There are no stars out tonight. It is like someone is conspiring to snuff out all the light from my life. I consider shutting my eyes and waiting till Faith arrives, but I can feel the chill creeping up through me. When I close my eyes they always come out from hiding. Like they hide behind my eyelids. Maybe I should cut them off. Put a stop to my misery.

It is always the sessions.

Session one.

You know Doc, it is not so much that she left. The fact that she left without giving a reason is what hurts the most. The middle aged man is speaking fumbling with his fingers, his gaze is fixed on the 'M-pesa' rose flower in a vase on the glass stool between us.

I am afraid he will reach out and grab it and start plucking away at the petals. I make a note to ask him about his concentration levels.

He turns to look at an abstract painting hanging on the wall. I got it from Maasai market at a very good bargain. It makes me very proud to just look at it every morning when I walk in. A smile starts forming on his lips...

Suddenly, he turns and lies down on the sofa and puts his feet up on the sofa. I cringe watching his dirty boots rub against the clean leather. It could leave a stain.

You know Doc, blue was her favorite color. She just couldn't get enough of it. From the cups we used to the polish on her nails there was always something blue. Now, I can't stand the sight of it.

The blue background of the painting had put him off. I study his face and notice the deep crease lines on his brow. How much stress have you experienced ever since she left?

You know Doc, at first I didn't even know what to feel. Ever been in a good place? I like to believe we were in a happy place.

He sits up and with one hand wipes off where his shoes had touched. He seems angry at himself for such an inconsiderate action. Leaning back on the sofa he continues.

And then one evening I get home and this void greets me at the door to the house we were to turn to a home. Do you know we even had plans to start trying for kids in a couple of months?

He pauses for a brief moment like he is expecting me to respond to his question.

A note left stuck on the fridge next to the to-do list expressed her apologies. It was written in this scrawl like she was in a real hurry to leave. An apology Doc? An apology Doc?

He seems to be focusing the anger bubbling up inside him on a spot on the ceiling.

After six years together and all she had for me is an apology?

He sits upright and looks straight at me.

You know Doc, I want to know what kind of person does that to another human being?

Session Two.

This small laughter escapes from her blue lipsticked lips. She seems to be doing her best to wipe off this smug look from her face to no avail.

Pardon me. I can't bring myself to stop laughing. She looks down at the floor and stretches her hand out above her head to tell me to give her moment.

I make a note to check on any such disorders later.

It started years back. A rough patch in my life almost brought me to rock bottom. I went home and sat on the cold floor and tried to cry it all out. My thinking was that the tears should be enough to wash away all my pain.

She smiles again and this time bites on her tongue to prevent herself from laughing out loud. She starts to trace the words inscribed on her blue jumper with a beautifully manicured nail.

I felt nothing. Zilch. The tears flowed but the pain seemed to be increasing inside me. I picked myself up and went to wash my face. The moment I looked into the mirror and smiled I felt it all over me. It was like this electric shock went through me. I even felt it on the tips of my nails.

She forms an oval with the tips of her fingers touching and looks at her nails as if to demonstrate her point.

Something left me that day. I had discovered a new way to deal with my pain. Ever since then I laugh at my pain.

So what brings you to me today?

I went and loved a man.

She takes in a deep breath.

I know you must be thinking how crazy I sound right now. It's not like I am forbidden to love. I always felt my past was going to catch up with me. You see I am supposed to hate men. All men. He was an exception. And while it lasted it felt soo good.

She pauses to a long sip from the glass of water that had been previously untouched.

How could I bring myself to tell him? She asks holding my gaze as she places the glass down on the stool.

A moment of silence passes between us. As I am about to break the silence she continues.

When the elders of our village declared their verdict, a new blanket and my being shipped off to a boarding school I was relegated to be one of the skeletons in my family's closet. They reasoned an able bodied father still providing for his family shouldn't have to go to jail for stealing his daughter's innocence in the middle of the night like a thief. I felt worthless. And when my blood first came as I sat watching it seep into the soil, I made a vow to forever hate men.

She laughs out loud and her whole body shakes. Her hoodie comes off to expose the lines neatly plaited on her head. She looks like a primary school girl that has just heard a very funny joke.

The years we were in love were bliss. It was like experiencing nirvana. Then one day I woke up and it was all gone. The girl that had made that vow years ago was back. She was angry that I was in love with a man. I tried to fight. But she wanted me to leave. So I left him an apology on the fridge.

She gulps down the little water that had been left.

How could I ever explain to him that I had to leave?

Martha! Martha!

The lights suddenly come on and I am blinded for a moment trying to make out who is calling my name. I swing to face the direction of the door and see a figure fast approaching. How long had I been out?

You have to stop torturing yourself like this.

She takes my hand and leads me towards the sofa. Cradling me in her arms like a baby she rocks me slowly.

Thank you for...

Hush now. You have to let yourself feel it so that you can let it all go. Start a new chapter.

I feel the giggle start to bubble inside me. I am going to be reborn.

Wacera Kieha

Wacera Kieha is a Lifestyle Content Creator based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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