My face is not my face.
I can see it, but it does not belong to me.
It is in the mirror. My reflection. Green eyes. Sometimes they are blue. But not very blue. Just kind of blue. Blue like his.
My nose feels like it is crawling up my face. Maybe it is not even there anymore. My face is wet. I am crying. I did not know that until now. I get closer to the mirror. If I could crawl inside it I would. It seems nice in there.
So close I can feel the cool on my face. My face gets larger and I can see every detail. The hairs between my eyebrows. The flecks in my eyes. The freckles on my nose. The scar that starts right above my eyebrow and cuts through the thin blonde hairs until it makes its way out on the other side. It is my face.
It does not feel like my face.
It is red. It is swollen. I move my fingers along the bumpy skin, trying to figure out if this is a dream and if this is really my face and I end up bringing my cheek to the counter and breathing heavily against it.
There is toothpaste on the counter. White. Green. Green like her eyes. Small specks. I scrape it away and wonder why it was there in the first place. I cannot remember brushing my teeth.
My hands are not my hands. They are red. Too red to be mine. My hands are too small. Also too big. My nails are too long. Some are too short. Some have crevices next to them where I dug out my cuticles and threw them away.
My skin is not my skin. It is crawling. It will not stay in one place. If I drag my nails across it, I feel pain and it feels more like my skin. That must be the whole problem. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that I have been left alone and will probably be alone forever.
I did not realize how heavily I was breathing until now, but my lungs should not be working this hard. Are they my lungs? Are they okay?
I might be dying.
That must be it. I am dying. There is no reason for me to be dying. But I am dying. I am going to die. My brain is screaming it. My chest is too small and my brain is too loud. My brain will not stop screaming. They left you. They hate you. They don’t want you anymore.
Am I screaming?
You will die. There is no reason for you to be dying but you are. I am dying.
They will kill you.
I walk to my bed. My footsteps do not feel like footsteps. The room is so quiet that I am sure I would be able to hear my padded feet on the tile but I cannot hear anything. I am capable of hearing but right now all I feel is water where my ears should be. Like I was submerged in water without getting wet. Without having to swim. Can I even swim? Do I even have ears?
I bring my hands up to the sides of my head and pull.
I stare at my bed. Why was I here?
My bed is up too high and I am too small but I climb it like a mountain. The sheets are usually soft but I am aware of every fiber, every stitch, every particle, as I lay on them. I sit up, then lay back down, then sit up again. One leg under the covers. One leg out. Then my chest is too small again and I jolt up.
I become aware of everything in the dark. Every movement. Every face that can or cannot be there. Her smile, small and white. His lips. Pink and chapped but so soft somehow. I turn on the lights.
I am too weak. I crack too easily. I am that plate with a chip in it that cracks as soon as pressure is put on it. Previously damaged and easily damaged again. And that’s what happened tonight. One small thing sets off an entire storm. You do not own people. People can get together without you.
They’re leaving you.
I want my face back. Breathe. You do not learn how great breathing is until you cannot breathe. I am okay. I am okay. Time slows down when you cannot breathe.
This is my face. These are my lungs. There are my hands. This is my chest. I am alive. I will be okay. I am okay.
My face is my face.
ABOUT LAUREN LOPEZ
Lauren Lopez was probably absent the day they taught the meaning of the word “no” in school. They’re a Writing, Literature, and Publishing major who got their start making construction paper picture books about a dog but abandoned that dream somewhere between learning they couldn’t draw and discovering the Internet. They spend most of their spare time making greeting cards, yelling about the gays, or cursing about baseball.