Sara Max, Grade 10
When nightmares tormented my subconscious and sleep evaded me, I would linger in front of the mirror and indulge in my reflection. It was comforting to maintain eye contact, even with myself. My rigid fingers would tug on my diamond-encrusted necklace. My demons would whisper, "Pull a little tighter, wrap yourself in an eternal sleep".
The sheer curtains billowed, revealing the neighbour's frolicking offspring. I suppressed the urge to knit my brows at their arrogant, taunting laughter; I didn't want wrinkles to blemish my face. I buried the children from my view and resumed my infomercial. I fell victim - yet again - to the offer and dialled the number, which flashed obnoxiously on the screen. The doorbell reverberated, causing me to flinch. Each time, I hoped I'd find more than another sodden cardboard package at my door. Each time, the mailman's footsteps receded. Each time, my gratification was transient, fading as quickly as it arrived.
I numbly plodded through the room, oblivious to the mountains of untouched parcels that swallowed the floors. My stiletto daggered into the plastic wrap, rupturing the seal. Hissing air nagged at my consciousness. I didn't bother checking my peephole, for it had grown obsolete. Shoes hadn't crossed my doormat in years. A metallic sound resonated as my wedding ring struck the handle. An unfamiliar yet soothing warmth engulfed my face as light flooded my lethargic eyes. My heart migrated to my feet. I swallowed hard in a futile attempt to remove the stubborn web of thick saliva which obstructed my throat. My lip didn't curl with bitterness when my eyes descended on the neighbour's child. Instead, they softened as they traced the dimple engraved into his cheek. My tongue grazed my palate, desperate for a hint of moisture.
His gaze penetrated my facade of superiority. His gaze melted the dullness that glossed over my eyes. His gaze embraced my soul. Yet, his fleeting look felt eternal. My body was no longer a void vessel, crafted to adorn with jewellery. It harboured my soul. A soul I thought had withered years ago. He had awakened its fragments buried deep within me.
The boy effortlessly bridged the abyss that separated me from the world. His chubby finger beckoned towards my manicured lawn, and I followed his buoyant footsteps that consumed the silence.
My soul wept. If only the pitter-patter of my child's feet could echo through the empty chambers of my heart. He kicked his ball towards me, and I reciprocated. A smile teased my lip, playfully tugging at my cheek. For once, I didn't reprimand myself for allowing the corners of my eyes to crease.
That evening, I unclasped my necklace and stripped my ring from my quivering hand. The allure of the mirror didn't entice me. My soul had been liberated; it was no longer bound to trivial possessions. I teetered on the brink of my doorstep. With a long stride, I spanned the chasm; my body and soul united as one.