i know what to be, what to reflect, for everyone—to become what they want or expect or hope. patterns, so simple to sketch and refine, are easy to switch between based on my audience. it ensures cataracted acceptance. it’s painless.

it used to be. now i have to force my mirror to reject their faces. not that they are vampires. they don’t ask for this, for my colors subsumed in theirs, but it’s what i give them. only one person realized; they did it too. what can a mirror show another? they go clear in six months. we fully drained each other. the light left his eyes as they left mine. stop lying, please, stop lying. it–it’s all i know. it's harder to keep it up when you're always together. i was always under her gaze and judgement. it's impossible to perform feelings consistently if you're derealized. i was never real.

now finding the projection of myself feels like a transcriber waiting for something coherent to emerge out of static signals from deep space. have i ever given anything out? independently?

everyone is used to a different reflection from me. they have custom pictures, hand designed, adjusted to their taste. it is my task to find the real image, whether it is a combination or something totally new. and instead of appreciating it they ask why it changes. this is my fatigue. it’s painting without a reference colorblind not knowing the outcome or goal—a dissonance that will avert every gaze. maybe i will like it (the ouroboros consumes itself) but is that what’s supposed to matter? am i? do i?

when i write about myself (forgive me) i habitually omit the I, but in my mind i refer to myself in the third person. she plans, she worries. her bones are in shambles. i was wrong. how did it take me so long to realize? my mother hugged me crying from fear when i told her. please—don’t be so open about it. i have to. my oldest friend told me that she can see the reflection, and that it’s a reflection climbing out of an uncanny valley. she told me to hurt me. she hates it. all i have is what i do. then say something, that’s an action too. my wisest asks why i am so shattered. he worries. he chose me. i am too tired to hide now. okay. i hope he could sense who he chose. i hope they all can.

they ask when these changes will evaporate, when they will normalize and stabilize. maybe it's a process of expansion and contraction. maybe they can’t. the web of fragments is falling, giving way to a canvas, glinting back every surrounding color as it falls. after the fall i can colorize myself, but i fear the shards will cut my friends as they grasp for who i used to be. i don’t want them to leave.