“What do you mean? We were just there an hour ago. Don’t you remember?”
She will try to recall the last year, and somehow, she will find nothing. She will reach and prod and grasp into the abyss for even an inkling. But there will be nothing, a dark, yawning chasm of forgetfulness within a mind typically crystalized by memories.
When she gets home, she will pause in front of her mirror, as if trying to spot the defect. She turns and peers at her reflection while hoping to find the imperfection. And something in her pristine reflection will flicker and ripple like a stone gently placed in a puddle. Each ring that dribbles outward will soon disappear like her forgotten memories almost wiped from existence.
She will blink and step back, scared by the movement in the mirror. She will gasp when her reflection does not step with her and instead blinks before grinning deviously with a wolfish smile more similar to one baring their teeth. It will scoff coldly at the terrified girl who rubs her eyes desperately like a child hopelessly trying to rid herself of a nightmare.
“You can’t get rid of me that easily. What would be the fun in that?” the mirror sneers.”I’m you. Don’t you remember?” Don’t you remember? A question echoing again through her head over and over. Rippling silently without any answer.
“No, no, I’m seeing things,” she will plead, hoping to will it and the question away. Hoping that she will remember.
“You’re seeing you. The real you. The twisted, depraved you. You’re seeing me.” And as though on cue, she will feel her lips curling into a perverse smirk to match her likeness. She will bark out a twinkling laugh, which sounds much too similar to glass shattering, slip out of her mouth. She will feel a tear carve its way down her cheek.
In the glass cage of her immaculate mind, she will plead. She will be released. But she will only laugh and laugh harder until the sound slowly crumbles into a sickening, blood-curdling wheeze.
“Please, stop it. Whatever you’re doing. I’m not crazy or anything you say I am!”
“No, you’re not crazy.” The reflection will smile predatorily and she will, too. Only her eyes will fill with tears and her hands will tremble. “You’re worse. You’re you.”
She shoots up in bed, panting breathlessly and clawing at the sheets. She reminds herself that it was just a nightmare but can’t seem to force herself to stop the dream from replaying over and over again.
She gets up abruptly and pushes herself into her morning routine, careful to avoid her mirror and the darkness that seems a whisper away. She goes about her day clinging onto every moment, every second, making sure to keep her dream just an illusion. Careful to preserve every valuable memory, in fear of forgetting and… She snaps her train of thought back into the tangible certainty of reality and continues life’s monotony in grey scenes of boringness.
She returns home at the end of the day, buoyantly drained, when a knock echoes on the door. At the doorstep stands a man with a brown bag of…carryout food?
“Yes?” The delivery man stares blankly and confusedly as though she were the one missing something or a common piece of a script. “Er, how much for the food?”
His brow furrows in amused perplexion. “How much? The usual, obviously.” She shakes her head puzzledly, and he adds jokingly, “No charge.”
“Oh, well, thanks.” He hands the bag and shrugs before walking away. She puts on a movie and curiously eats her food before she starts to feel… feel woozy and… and…
She shoots up in bed, panting breathlessly and clawing at the sheets. The room is bright and blinding. It smells sterile, bleached, and oddly cleaned.
“Good morning, Patient 21799. Ready for breakfast?”
“Patient? Breakfast?” She swivels around and finds a white room empty save for her bed. A nurse is preparing something on a table that was rolled in. The woman glances at her from over her shoulder, smiling brightly.
“Well, of course! You’ve been here for nearly three years now. Don’t you remember?” Somehow the question is infinitely worse than her nightmares. She pinches herself frantically, desperately hoping to wake up again. “Come now, 21799, stop that.” Her vision narrows and her breaths turn ragged as she continues pinching and prodding while nearly hyperventilating. “I said, ‘Stop it.’”
The nurse runs into the hallway, hastily yelling for help. Two nurses run in flanking the first with a tray. She backs into the headboard. “No, no, no. I’m not crazy. Let me out of here!”
“Restrain her.” She writhes and thrashes in panicked fear. She screams, and once again, her mind is overcome by darkness.
“Cages aren’t made of iron, they’re made of thoughts.”