Antique dressing table mirror at my mother's house.

“No one could love you. You were never good enough, and you were never going to succeed. Just look at you! Maybe, you could be pretty — if you made some effort. But you don’t. No wonder you’re a big, fat failure at life,” they whispered.

It was nothing new. Janie was used to this; she had heard it all before, a million times. A million times a million times, even. Still, the words cut, each syllable a slash of hate and hurt against her fragile psyche. She felt tears begin to well up in her eyes, but she knew it wouldn’t stop. Crying would make things worse. They loved it when she cried. Her tears fueled them, whipping them into a mad frenzy of laughing, mocking abuse.

Not for the first time, Janie thought she couldn’t possibly continue on like this. No one could live with this kind of torture. No one could live in a world bereft of love, where they knew they were valued at less than nothing. She thought about the gun: her father’s prize possession, which he kept locked away in a special cabinet made from the finest walnut and endowed with gracefully carved animals. Even as a young child, she had been fascinated with the gun and with its storage cabinet. She used to sit for hours, watching the animals dance around the cabinet’s glass door. If she looked long and hard enough, she could almost believe the creatures were dancing right out of the wood to gambol about her. Of course, she had been a child then. She was much older now, and it was ridiculous for a girl of sixteen to believe in wooden animals coming to life. Still, it had been a beautiful dream, and the loss of it felt inexplicably sad, leaving a heaviness in Janie’s heart that she could not fathom. The cabinet was locked, but she knew how to use a bobby pin to pick it. It would be so easy to slip downstairs right now. So easy …

“You should do it,” they whispered back at her, somehow catching the thread of her jumbled thoughts. The words were edged with cruel laughter. “You won’t, though. You’re a coward. Can’t even end it all correctly. Too scared of leaving a mess for someone else to clean up. Pathetic.”

Maybe the scorn she heard in that final word pushed her over the edge. Maybe she was just tired of all of it. Janie would never know, but, before she realized what she was doing, she gripped her hairbrush. She was almost surprised to find her fingers wrapped around its handle, the intricately carved silver cool against her skin.

“Enough!” Janie snapped. “I need room to breathe. I need space. Get out of my head now!”

She threw the brush, hard, against her dressing table mirror, smiling as the sound of breaking glass sliced open the heavy silence in her room. The spider web of cracks turned her reflection into a Picasso masterpiece, and Janie found she rather liked the look of it. But what she liked most of all was the silence. It seemed the voices in her head had nothing more to say.


10 thoughts on “Tempest

  1. The spider web of cracks turned her reflection into a Picasso masterpiece, and Janie found she rather liked the look of it. But what she liked most of all was the silence. It seemed the voices in her head had nothing more to say.

    Strong writing. Love the story, images and sounds you bring to us in such few words.

    • Thank you very much! I am flattered by your kind comment. And very, very happy you enjoyed the story. Thank you for stopping by, for reading, and for such a wonderful comment. 🙂

  2. Great story and style.

    Imagine if you were to start with the opposing perspective, ” Every one loves you. You are good enough….”, how do you then see the story trending?


    • Thank you for reading and for your kind words! I appreciate it very much.

      I think it would be a very different story if we started with the opposing perspective. Sometimes, it is hard for girls to hear or realize the kind or good things about themselves. These are the types of voices I heard in my head growing up, and I think that is a similar experience to many girls. Possibly many boys, too …

    • I’m glad the emotions could come through in the story. I’ve lived with these kinds of torments my whole life, so it is painful. And hard to learn a different way of forgiving and loving oneself.

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