Monday, November 13, 2017


It was an odd moment. She had looked up just for a second and caught her own reflection staring back at her through the glass. It had startled her. How pale she looked. How drawn. But the shock was how angry she looked. Lips drawn back in to a sneer she wasn't aware she was making.

She reached her hand up to her mouth and felt..nothing. No sneer. No lip curl. 

She looked back toward the glass and the reflection was gone. The angle of the light was wrong. She could clearly see through the glass and in to the store. No reflection at all.

It was an odd moment.

But it was just a moment. Her mind had obviously been playing tricks on her. She was tired, after all. And busy, so very busy. She had been working extra long hours trying to keep her business afloat.

"You can't work your way out of the recession." Her boyfriend had told her right before he broke up with her. 

But she didn't believe that there was nothing she could do. Sure, everyone was facing hard times right now and so many businesses were closing. But she had a plan. She was going to be able to succeed. She tightened her belt and laid off her employees promising them she would rehire as soon as business picked back up. She worked day and night on everything herself. Filling orders, making sales pitches, answering the phone, doing the billing, making the calls to all of the late pays. So many late pays. And now making her own calls to those she was late paying. 

She had never failed at anything before. She was the classic over achiever. And running her own company at 32 was just one thing on her list. She still had more to accomplish but failing at this would change everything. If she couldn't make her business a success she wouldn't be able to sell it to a larger company. That had been her goal. Run this business for 5-10 years. Make it a raging success, sell and move to the next thing. But here she was 3 years in and failing. The first two years had gone completely according to plan. She had started on her own, then hired two people then two more. Expanding slowly as business picked up. At the end of her second year she was looking at expanding in to a bigger space. Then the first cancellation came. Halfway through fulfilling the order she got a call, "we are closing." Then normal renewals were cancelled. "Check with us again in 6 months. We are cutting back." She held on to her staff through the first few, but then the layoffs started. 

Last one hired, first one fired. Though she was seconding guessing herself now. Should she have let the highest paid go first? Or would that have just hastened the demise of her company? That seemed to be all she had right now. Second thoughts about what she should have done. Now three months in to running a one woman show and still not sure how she was going to make rent next month she was out of options. 

Out of options and alone. Her boyfriend had left her. Though he was right in saying that she had left him months before. Her employees were gone. Her friends were...well she wasn't sure where they were. She had lost touch with them all over the past year. Cancelling plans so often they had stopped inviting her places at all. But she still tried. Struggling to make it. She couldn't fail.

That night as she was getting ready for bed she leaned over the sink and spit her toothpaste down the drain. As she raised back up she saw it again. The reflection. The pale, drawn face with the sneer. This time she stared at the mirror as she raised her hand to her lips. Watching the reflection. Her own hand reaching to her face. Feeling the toothpaste residue. But no sneer. Her lips were closed. She reach a hand out toward the mirror, to touch that strange reflection was gone. Replaced with her puzzled face.

But it was just a moment.

She went to bed. Pulled the sheets up to her neck and stared at the ceiling. That's what she did most nights. Just stared at the ceiling and did math. How much money was in the bank? How much outstanding billing was there? How much did she owe? How much did she think she would be able to collect? How much longer could she make it last? Counting pennies was not like counting sheep. 

She raised her hand to her face and felt her mouth again. Would she feel the sneer this time?Wondering if it was the mirror that was lying to her or her fingers. She felt the sneer. Not with her fingers but, she felt it. She felt the anger behind it. She had worked so hard. She had done everything right. So much planning. So much sacrifice. She had been a good girlfriend. There for him through one thing after another but when it was his turn to stand with her? Where did he go? Her friends? The ones she had bought dinners for when they were struggling? The ones she had helped through classes in college? Given letters of recommendation to? Bought endless fundraiser wrapping paper and cookie dough from? Those friends? Where were they now? She felt the sneer. 

Eventually she drifted off to sleep. One hand on her lower face. The sneer never came back. But she never stopped feeling it. 

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