I wasn’t aware of the paradox until it came to me in a dream. She was there smiling back at me as if through a wormhole in the universe. Her face surrounded in an ethereal glow, she looked like an angel behind a smeared camera lens, but I knew it was me. We tried to communicate but couldn’t quite make out each other’s words.
If I forced myself back to sleep, maybe I could meet her gaze again — my own gaze — looking back at me through an otherworldly mirror. An irony lay in my abhorrence of my reflected image and its revelation of aging’s cruel changes. The insipid weight gain over the years. Time’s wear on my physical form and its tracks on my skin. I usually tried to stay as far away a reflection as possible, but it was a more satisfactory “self” looking back at me in that REM state. Her phosphorescent presence soothed me.
Maybe she was trying to tell me everything was okay, all my doubts and fears were unwarranted, the status quo was fine. Her exuberant self-confidence showed through the opaque “looking glass,” like Alice’s in the story.
Her esteem seemed to project onto me. Funny, I never noticed what she was wearing, if her hair was fixed, her makeup fresh. She just … was.
And she was happy like that. Like she was telling me what she wished for me, too. “Never mind the self-conscious nonsense,” her piercing eyes said, “just love yourself as you are.”
Her shoulders square, satisfaction radiated from her smiling visage. I saw her raise her chin ever so slightly in a quick jerking motion, willing me to keep mine up. Then the glint in her eye and her whole evanescent body faded away into a transparent haze.
She was gone, but I knew she still existed elsewhere and was pleased I’d received her intended message. If she could be competent and self-assured than I could as well. The outward shell doesn’t matter as much as a person’s essence. The soul.
The judgment of others is insignificant.
The image’s quantum leap to my bedroom disturbed my sleep, but I awoke refreshed. I sat up in bed and stretched my arms out break the night’s grip. My right hand unfolded to reveal an old elementary school photo of myself from back when I felt best about life, so full of hope and excitement for the future. That crazy haircut with its crooked bangs Mom gave me while I sat in a kitchen chair and a sheepish grin on my face from a time when other people’s opinions were irrelevant.
I had no idea how the picture got there. I hadn’t seen it in years but smiled knowingly. It must have come from the dream mistress to show me what I already knew but needed to remember. That was the real me, and I finally recognized her.
*prompt at Indie Chick Lit