Jonathan sees things in reflections that aren't real. At least, that's what he tells himself.

He has rules that help. Don't look into puddles. Avoid mirrors. Scuff up shiny metal. That last rule has gotten him kicked out of a number of foster homes, but he thinks it's worth it. If they get rid of him for that, they weren't worth sticking around.

But all his caution means that when he does catch a glimpse of reflection-- when he walks past a clean shop window, when he receives shiny coins, when he sees himself in well-waxed car-- it's all the more jarring.

The reflections staring back at him aren't his. They are people-- old people, young people, men, women, people darker than him, people lighter than him, people who are tall, short, fat, skinny--

People who are hurt.

They all are hurt.

They look at him from eyes, weeping blood and pus, stabbed through with needles. They grin at him with broken teeth, with lips torn off, or sewn through with barbed wire and pulled upwards into facsimiles of smiles. Their mouths dribble blood down their chins where it passes their split throats and soaks into their tattered clothing.

The do nothing but smile helplessly as he, equally helpless, pretends not to see them.

When he's finally sent to the Home, it's a relief. The staff don't yell at him for hiding mirrors and scuffing metal. And, when he told them why he did it, they clucked sympathetically and moved him to a room whose windows were frosted and free of reflections.

The people in the mirrors are still there, he knows it, but at least now he doesn't have to look at them.


When I was trying to fix my marriage and decide about a divorce, I hated myself and felt completely like a failure. I kept looking in the mirror and feeling I have failed, failed, failed.

I felt that I was unlikable and unlovable. I would stare in the mirror at myself, wondering how I had made so many mistakes. I did not like myself. I was miserable.

What finally got me out of it was thinking about my mother. She had died in 2000. She hid all sorts of stuff, horrors, in diaries. My sister said, "Don't read them. Depressing." Anger, fear, wrote it, never said it. I found a letter from her after she died where she said, "I can't tell ANYONE this."

I thought: I loved my mother, all of her, even the dark parts and the anger and the fear AND I knew those parts were there. My father and I and my sister knew, even if everyone else thought she was totally charming. My sister and I asked my dad what she was really like, two years after she died. He replied "Morose."

But I thought, if I loved ALL of her, then I too am lovable, even in failing in my marriage. I got divorced because I couldn't fix it, he didn't want to. And I felt better and the kids did better. In fact, my ex-husband who wouldn't work, went back to school, became an RN and has been a hero during Covid-19! And stayed in contact with me and the kids and we never fought at all over the kids.

#27: Iron Noder

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