Between Four Walls

by Sofia Papagerogiou, age 14
Between Four Walls Sofia is a rising ninth grader. She enjoys creative writing in her free time, specifically realistic fiction and poetry. Her hobbies include baking, hiking, reading, and listening to music. She currently resides in Washington DC with her sister, mom, dad, and two cats.

“Because perfection is like fog, easy to get lost in and never to be reached, and the search for beauty has always been in the wrong place, never to be found. Is it possible the greatest battles were always herself?”

She, the girl, stands facing sideways towards the mirror, talking fast to distract from the movements she makes, twisting her waist from left to right, her eyes quietly seeking out every imperfection. The mirror is the great enemy. The mirror is the battle. Why does she look so much… doesn’t she know what it reflects by now? Why must one stand for so long looking at a mirror that only reflects what truly is. Or is it possible that one can stand so long looking at the same thing until finally, they forget what the reflection appeared to show in the first place?

What is perfection? Why does everyone want it? It seems much like fog. One is always too far to reach it, but able to get close enough not to abandon it. It is an ever lasting search for satisfaction. Everybody knows they will never find it, but still they continue to look. Maybe they keep looking because if they stop they’ll be faced with the fact that they were looking in the wrong place all along. Or maybe they keep looking because they want to win the battle so much they sacrifice themselves in the process. Maybe.   

***

A plate unfinished. Peas 60 calories, chicken 150 calories, mashed potatoes 300 calories, with butter 75 calories. Total: 585 calories. Too many. Because if I eat this, the person I like won’t notice me and the dress I like won’t fit me and the friends I talk to everyday will stop talking to me and then I’ll be left with nothing to like about myself. So I’ll eat the peas and half the chicken and pretend I had a really big lunch which was actually just an apple and hide the fact that I want to finish the plate and eat three scoops of Ben and Jerry’s chocolate ice cream which I know is in the freezer. But I can’t because if I do then I’ll have nothing left to like about myself. So I’ll go back to my room and lock the door to return to the mirror. And then it will be just the mirror and myself. I strip naked and count every bone I can see, ribs, collar, and shoulders. This reflection I see, how come it doesn’t please me? I eat less, I workout more, but still I can’t see beauty. Why? 

I step on the scale that I long to see all day. But I have to be quick because if my parents saw me I know they’d be concerned. The numbers on the scale start to form, until I see they have gone done. What a relief, because now I can be sure that all my hard work was not for nothing, and a smile starts to form on my face, and I think to myself of how very good I feel. I wish I could share this with someone. My dad calls me downstairs to finish up the dishes so I cover my body with a baggy sweatshirt so no one can see what is actually underneath. So no one can see the truth.

***

Control. She needs it. She thrives on it. Because when her life is falling apart the only thing she has left to dominate is herself. That’s why she’s protecting a secret that is slowly killing her. Even though she knows it will hurt people. Even though it hurts herself. So she keeps fighting the enemy and the battle. But what is the battle now? For the mirror is only a reflection of what truly is. There is no one battle, there is no one reason for all the bad things. If there were, it would all be much simpler as there would only be one thing to get rid of. The mirror, the plate, the scale. . . all the battles that need to be fought to achieve beauty and perfection. That’s what she, the girl, keeps telling herself.

“I ‘ll be perfect and then I’ll be okay.”

“I’ll be beautiful and then I’ll be okay.”

But she tried and still she is not okay. Because perfection is like fog, easy to get lost in and never to be reached, and the search for beauty has always been in the wrong place, never to be found. Is it possible the greatest battles were always herself? All along was she her own enemy? After all a mirror only reflects what truly is.

*** 

I am tired of looking at the mirror for every imperfection, and I am tired of the scale going up and down, and I am tired of only eating a quarter of my plate. I am tired of hurting everyone including myself. And I’m tired of forgetting everything that once mattered to me. So I will return to my mirror. The battle that I don’t even remember starting in the first place… CRACK

 Suddenly I see thick warm blood beginning to trickle down my knuckles. Sharp pain shooting through my fist which is pressing against the ice cold mirror. I released my hand from the mirror and slowly started to open up my fingers one by one, each one more painful than the last. My hand is shaking in the end, now covered in blood, a deep crimson red. My wrist ached with a rush of pain coursing through my arm. What is this reflection I see now? Who is this person staring back at me? I can see myself, thin body, only enough skin to cover the bones sticking out of me, but only, this time I look, I am covered by a million cracks, running down my face in every direction. Lines running through my left ribs and chest. But more noticeably a large crack cutting down straight through my face. And finally I can see myself, stuck in this webbed mirror. Stuck in this idea of perfection. Is this who I am? Is this my reflection? After all, a mirror only shows what truly is.


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