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The Girl in the Mirror

I roll over in bed, hitting my alarm clock angrily, not ready to face another day of school. I didn’t see my mom last night before I went to bed, heating up leftover lasagne, showering, and then drifting into oblivion by 9 PM.

After a night of peaceful, dreamless sleep, I still find myself groggy and unable to wake up. I sigh and force myself up to begin my morning routine. It’s the same thing every morning: black leggings or skinny jeans, an oversized shirt of some sort, brush teeth, wash face, brush hair.

I used to care more about my appearance. Truthfully, I used to care a lot more about my appearance—I was a little obsessed with it, but now it seems like the least important thing in the world.

I used to wake up and curl my hair, braid it, straighten it, pin it back, and all sorts of things. I would maintain a chestnut ombré coloring. My makeup was flawless. I kept up to date on the newest makeup trends, I watched all of the tutorials online. My wardrobe consisted of dresses, crop tops, shorts and skirts, heels, and name brand everything. I wasn’t afraid of attention—I craved it.

I look at my reflection in the mirror, thinking back on the girl that looked so put together, the girl who wasn’t afraid of anything. I miss her. There’s definitely a resemblance. I’m still her... I just have dark circles under my eyes, my skin is pale, my hair almost black. My lips are still full and pouty, but they’re no longer rosy in color. I looked drained, and tired. I look lifeless.

I retreat from the bathroom mirror in defeat. Today I’ve chosen black leggings, an oversized Nirvana t-shirt, and an army green jacket with a drawstring waistline. I pair it with black studded boots and my sparrow necklace.

Grabbing my bag and keys from the table, I head out the door. The main campus is a short walk and the weather is envigorating, so I opt to walk today, letting the morning mist hit my face. I stop at my normal coffee place, falling in line, ready to order my usual—large latte with an extra shot, when someone walks in front of me, stepping up to the counter ahead of me.

“She’ll have a large latte with an extra shot of espresso,” he says, and I recognize the back of his auburn head. “I’ll have a large French press, please.” He slides his card without even glancing in my direction.

“What are you doing?” I demand, flustered.

“Buying your coffee,” Leopold tells me, as if it really is just that simple.

“I see that, but why?”

“To be nice?” He ventures.

“How do you even know what I order?” I ask as I follow him to the end of the bar to wait for our order. My arms are crossed over my chest, and I’m staring straight ahead.

“I’m behind you almost every day,” he explains. “You always order the same thing. You might as well just tell Clarice you’d like your usual,” he gestures towards the blonde barista, who is sporting pigtails today, paired with a Barbie pink lip stain.

I look down at my feet, unsure what to do next. I’m out of practice talking to people, and scared to get to know anyone anyway.

“Leo!” Clarice calls, winking at him. “Study group got moved to 7 PM,” she says, leaning against the counter to chat with him.

I don’t know what to do right now, and I stand awkwardly next to him, unsure. Would it be rude to grab my coffee and leave? I should at least tell him thank you... but it would be rude to interrupt them.

“Cool,” he says smoothly. “That actually works out better anyway because I have to meet Professor Hawke this afternoon and help him plan out spells for class this Friday.”

“Everything happens for a reason,” she giggles, twirling her hair around her finger and using her arms to push her boobs together, giving him a full view of her cleavage.

I take this as my cue to leave.

“Thank you for the coffee,” I say quickly. I turn my back on him before he can reply and head for the door, pulling my hood up and ducking my head.

I don’t make it far when I hear someone yelling after me.

“Salem! Wait up!” Leo calls. I don’t slow my pace but he catches up anyway. “Wow, you’re fast,” he says, looking down at me, his shoulder bumping against mine as he falls into step next to me.

“Did I forget something?” I ask, unsure why he’s so interested in me.

He looks confused. “No?” He says, but it sounds like a question. “I was just planning on walking with you, if that’s okay?”

“Why?” I ask wearily, my heart racing. I’m instantly suspicious.

What does he know?

What does he want from me?

“I don’t know,” he says, as though he doesn’t quite know himself. “I’ve just never really seen you talk to anyone, I guess, and I’ve always thought you seemed kind of interesting.”

He sees my face.

“Mysterious,” he adds with a wry smile. “You look like a girl with secrets.”

I look down at my feet, trudging forward. We’re close to class now, thank God.

“I don’t do friends,” I say with a shrug. “I’m not a people person.” Not anymore.

“Hmm,” he ponders aloud, as though he doesn’t believe me.

“What?” I pause outside of our building, curious.

“I just get this sense that you are a people person.” He tells me, running a hand through his wild, curly hair. “It just adds to the mystery, I guess,” he says before brushing past me. “See you after class.”

He left me standing there, dumbfounded and reeling. All I can think is...

Stay away from him. He’s definite crush material.

And that cannot happen.

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