I am the monster of every story.
I am an overgrown and unappealing flower with fading petals.
The knot of tears around my throat has crystallized into my design, creating a hard lump in the notch of my collarbone.
In my youth, the contour was visible, and predatory men longed to sink their teeth into it.
I wish that I could at least exchange youthful beauty for the wisdom of age, but although my face is wizened, I am not wise.
I have always been a dowdy mutant with the vague shape of a woman.
Never was I a pale and delicate artifact to be treasured like precious jewelry carved from mother-of-pearl.
What slight appeal may have been endowed on me in the morning of youth continues to dwindle with every passing day in the afternoon of my life.
I trade chicory for coffee because they have a similar taste, but I can no longer tolerate caffeine.
Day by day life loses any sense of exhilaration.
I remind myself that most of the stimulants I chose were artificial.
Caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines.
I was always running from myself.
Always fleeing the monster in the mirror.
I thought that if I ran fast enough, I might escape the hideous reflection looking back at me, if only for a while.
I ran into the clutches of liar after liar promising me that I was his one and only, his forever, his girl.
Only to have him turn out to be another abuser, another loser, another cheat.
“You bring all your misery on yourself,” one of them sneered at me as I stood hollow and lost in his living room that smelled like urine.
There were bandages on my wrists from self-inflicted cuts.
He had introduced me to the tramp that he was fucking on the side.
After he told me I was the only one.
He forced me to watch pornography.
Not just humans, mind.
He made me kiss his feet.
He told me that he would take his love from me if I refused to obey.
How could I think that was love?
Why did I stay?
The pretty people can never understand.
When you are as hideous as I am, the monster in the mirror gives the orders.
“Find someone to gimme shelter,” she demands.
So, when men would lie to me and tell me that I was pretty, it didn’t matter how ugly they treated me.
Being told that she was beautiful was the most important thing to yesterday’s stupid girl.
A shambling mound, a loathsome lump, a parody of femininity.
When you are these things, you allow anyone with slippery words to tear your heart to pieces.
Twenty-three years have gone by, and I still feel sick when I think back on it.
Men don’t treat you right when you’re the monster in the mirror.
I know I’m better off alone, but I find no solace in my own company.
I would never look at myself, but I still must brush my hair.
I would tell any man who approached me these days with slippery words and predatory intent to go fuck himself sideways.
I don’t have the patience for lying lotharios.
I would rather keep the company of listless lions and doomsday dungeons.
I convinced myself that my stories would be my salvation.
I hoped my peculiar little tales would find an audience.
So far, I have lied to myself as much as those hopscotching hillbillies and hurtling hitchhikers of my yesteryears lied to me.
This is the danger when you are the monster in the mirror.
Everybody lies to you.
I learned the truth long before I was seventeen.
The author of that song said that dreams are all they give for free to ugly duckling girls.
But she lied too because dreams come at a price.
Besides, she has made clear her position on large women that she deems unattractive, so I don’t trust her very much.
I have always related to the protagonist in Mr. Lovecraft’s tale of The Outsider when he realized why the partygoers screamed and ran into the night at the sight of him.
For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my fingers to the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass.
I am the monster in the mirror.
I am the outsider.
I will never be anyone’s first choice.
I am not even the consolation prize.
I am the one that men sniggeringly dare each other to have sex with.
I am the butt of the joke.
I am not even seen as human.
Once I dreamed that love would come in and sweep me up away.
But the monster in the mirror shall not find love even in her dreams.
The little friends who once gave me love have been gone for years.
It is too expensive to keep pets, and my heart will never heal from those losses.
Every day is a struggle to keep going.
Even the stories in my mind begin to grow dim.
I have found nobody to care for them after I am gone.
Without an audience, they will die with me.
It seems that nobody wants even to share in the flights of fancy of someone so far removed from beautiful.
I wish that I could say that I have made peace with what I am.
That I have triumphed despite being horrible to behold, but I have not, and I never will.
I am doomed to walk into the darkness alone.
There will be no kind words, no acclaim, and it will be no great loss, for I was never anything but the monster in the mirror.
The sight of me is hideous, there is no doubt, but there is an aching sweetness buried within.
A thousand pinpricks in my sorrowful heart remind me daily of all I’ve lost and what I never had to begin with.
“The Outsider” is a story by H.P. Lovecraft, first publication Weird Tales April 1926.
The line “the knot of tears around your throat is crystallizing into your design” comes from the 1967 song “Albatross,” written and performed by Judy Collins.
“Gimme Shelter” is a 1971 song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and performed by The Rolling Stones.
“At Seventeen” is a 1975 song written and performed by Janis Ian.
“Once I dreamed that love would come in and sweep me up away” is a line from the 1977 song “Here Come the Tears,” written by Rob Halford and Glenn Tipton and performed by Judas Priest.
The line “besides, she has made clear her position on large women that she deems unattractive, so I don’t trust her very much” refers to derogatory remarks that Ms. Ian has made about big women on various occasions. While I still like her music, I have been disappointed by her intolerant attitudes towards people that she deems physically unappealing.
First Line Friday
Exchange Overgrown Fading Petals Chicory Pin Pricks Thousand Wizened Notch Mother-of-pearl Contour Dwindle Afternoon
Putting My Feet in the Dirt
Listless Lions and Doomsday Dungeons
Hopscotching hillbillies and hurtling hitchhikers
Submitted to the Write a story that involves a reflection in a mirror prompt on 5 July 2021.
Let's Go To The Hop
Let's Go To The Hop
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