She looked at herself in the mirror. For the first time, she saw what he had seen all along. She'd never believed him when he'd called her beautiful. She had always felt that her eyes were uneven, her lips too small, her face too childish. He had always dismissed her fears. When she had told him that her eyes were uneven, he barely noticed. Her lips were plentiful, her face, gorgeous. "Your face," he'd said, "is perfect."
She never really believed him, knew that he saw her through the mask of love. Love is like alcohol; it makes everything look different. Everything is beautiful, even when clouded by a haze of pain. She knew that he was lovely, but everyone thought so. So handsome, so smart, so popular... she'd never understood why he'd ended up with her.
In that moment, she saw herself as he had always seen her. The tears rolled down her cheeks. Every time, she had pushed him away. "Lies," she had told herself, "only lies." She couldn't stand liars. She'd spent an evening, lying next to him, building very real walls in her head. Brick by brick, she lay them down, without mortar. An imposing but fragile construct. She knew all along that she'd regret it, but was so afraid of getting hurt that she couldn't believe him.
Her face was nearly perfect, she saw now. Its beauty lay in its simplicity. She had no exotic features, but a simple, symmetric face. Nothing special, yet one that you might remember from a crowd. A sob wracked her frame. She looked up at herself, at her form sprawled on the floor, met her own eyes. Saw the sparks of sadness, the repressed hurt that she'd finally unleashed.
Saw the once crimson stains on her hands and arms, the dried spots on her clothes.
She had pushed him away so effectively that finally he had given up. He only taunted her with infrequent "I love you"'s that did not necessarily mean 'I'm in love with you'. He eventually moved on, in actions if not in words. She never did, took in the pain every time she saw him with someone else. Still latched on, he resorted to harsh words to drive her away, because he couldn't handle her simultaneous invitation and rejection. She took each one of them like a knife to the heart. Each word materialized as a scar on her wrists.
They ran into each other on the street one day. Chemistry took them back to the good old days, and she took him home. They climaxed in a passion they'd never before been able to consummate. He called out someone else's name. It didn't matter whose, only that is wasn't hers. She recalled the intense feelings of vulnerability, everything of which she had been afraid. Betrayed, after all this time, after all these years, by a single word. A thought, even. A thought that it wasn't her, that he was living for someone else. The lack of her name on his lips was the final straw.
She withdrew into herself and built up the fourth wall, the one she'd left open all those years before. He tried to apologize, couldn't understand when she appeared emotionless. He didn't know what to say. He had loved her, he'd known that he still did, but it had not prevented him from loving others. He'd moved on as much as possible. He'd just been unable to retain control, had felt himself drawn into her as he always had. Her features were as perfect as they'd ever been, and her being still had a hold on his heart. "My god, she's beautiful," had been his first thought on seeing her again, an echo of a thousand such thoughts.
But he'd been away for so long that she was less a part of him than he was of her. She may have been the first, but she was not, for him, the most important. He had only enjoyed passions of that intensity with one other, and her name came. He wanted to apologize, but knew that he couldn't, that it wouldn't matter, that this would cut her off forever.
He still tried, as they dressed in angry awkwardness. They made their way downstairs, he, uncertain, and she, emotionless. Behind the solid mask, memories flitted before her. Each word, abuse, insignificant pain, culminated to form a monster. He stopped her in the kitchen. Turned to her, held her shoulders, looked her in the eyes. She missed the real pain in the gaze. She saw nothing through the veil of carefully cultivated anger, nothing but an objectifying look. How could he have done this to her? Not cared for her, only for her 'beauty', which she had never believed in anyway. Used her while claiming to love her.
She tried to break away; he held her. She saw it on the counter, reached for it, and acted before she could hold herself back. He fell, clutching at the hole in his heart. She watched, stood, face slack. And then it hit her, and she could do nothing but hold him, try to staunch the blood, knowing that her hit had been all too precise. She thought of all the things that she could say, and could come up with only a poor, whispered, "I love you". Their eyes met and the pain was equivalent in both pairs. Their love had never been more passionate, more real. She felt the walls come crumbling down, and was flooded with all the emotions she'd tried too hard not to see.
And there she was, much later. Lying on the floor, looking at herself in the hall mirror, the knife between he and she, blood marking all three. Unable to decide on her next action. Realizing that the source of such inner conflict had been in vain. Perhaps she could only see herself as she truly was now that every barrier had been torn down, or she had simply assumed his perspective now that he was gone.
Self-acceptance, the one thing that had prevented her from enjoying his love, she found in his death.
She looked in the mirror. She saw herself. And in the moment where she hated herself the most, she loved herself for the first time. Saw what he had seen in her.
She looked past the blood soaked hands, the streaks of tears, looked into her eyes. "My god," she said, "I'm beautiful."