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  • Writer's pictureMar

Auctioned Sentience

A quick note from Hailo:

Now you all are going to meet the last three remote literatis who are not in New York. We met over a video call and reflecting on the medium, our own spirituality, and life, we decided on essays about the moment they remembered being. Mar is very cool. Confident and honest in a way that's wonderfully shocking. The type of girl you want to be liked by in school because she has a kind and knowing nature, not because of any sort of external validation. I'm honored to have her writing for the site for the year and know you all will also find her full of depth and wonder and beauty.

Your trust runs deeper than mine. You chose me, and I did not choose you. I stopped dreaming,  told a lie when moored in disconnected harbor ports, You were in my dreams last night. I wake  up every other day. I obscure the truth in the dream I created for you to exist in, reader, surveil,  place holds in. It was my fourth or fifth winter, the last dream I recorded before the drought,  and I return to it, still. Twenty years of disturbed sleep, voided sleep. There’re quite a few  ways to conceal yourself. To misalign yourself. One dreamless childhood may do just the trick.  I am your mirrored image.  

On the Holiday, I notice for the first time a split in the mirror downstairs. It’s got wires and  hooks hanging out the back like the front door of the Chokey, lives atop and a-lean two milk  crates against the wall. There’re things behind it. It’s like a slim quarter closet. I wear a velvet  dress because I’d already pissed all over the tulle one, and sit in the chair opposite the mirror.  Every Holiday, the same cheeses and crackers are on the table, the shrimp, the kielbasa  skewers, the maraschino cherries. There’s plastic flatware most of the time, and specialty  hooked knives resting atop grocery platters. It’s never been particularly appetizing, but we eat  it while staring at each other and sometimes laughing. I’m staring especially at the mirror  today because my face is changing, and feel I’m desensitizing myself to this new existence by  staring so. This was, in tandem, the first Holiday since I stopped believing in Jesus and Mary  and Joseph.  

The split in glass, at first, I presumed was a fly stalling. I waited on it, forgot about it, and  waited on it again. It was probably so full, I thought, after demolishing the tepid fish and pork  on our table. He was resting. I remembered permanence, then, and assumed he’d have to eat or  die sooner rather than later as he had aged most his lifespan in the time I’d spent staring. But  he didn’t, and thus the split became undeniably apparent. I eagerly slid my finger down the  crack with awareness it might slice, though at the same time just young enough to feel  indissociably lucky and without abandon so slice or no slice, I’d still figure what the deal with  the mirror was and additionally, be the first and possibly only one to know at all. Ha! That was  something. So that finger slid with slickness and pulled away unviolated, I stood a few feet  back to further surveil, and soon enough (with finality) I decided there was, in trueness, a split  in the mirror downstairs.  

A few years later, my brother’d decide to marry his high school ex and adopt her infant  daughter, Leigh-Ann. As dual parting and housewarming gifts, my father’d send him off with  an heirloom typewriter, an uncased trumpet, a grocery bag of T.J. Maxx odds ’n ends, and the  split mirror. He accepted them all with grace, even holding Leigh-Ann in front of the mirror as  it rested against the side of his truck to jump-scare her self awareness. To be fair, he himself’d been a baby just moments before he became a father and in certain gendered attitudes, he and  Leigh-Ann wouldn’t ever be too far off in mental age, anyhow. Blind teaching blind is sheer  hope for panarchy. I didn’t see the mirror for a while. I was a teenager and my brother’s frontal  lobe was a quarter developed and his apartment smelled of expired diapers, smoke and Hot  Pockets. I’d asked him once, how he could eat in there, and he said he’d needed at least one  form of comfort control in his life. I wondered if Leigh-Ann was like a mom to him. I  wondered that ‘till well into college.  

Once he’d moved, after the wife split with Leigh-Ann, he’d try and peddle the mirror onto me.  It won’t fit, it scuffs the walls, its woodgrain is too horizontal, it makes me sick. Never  mentioned the split. I didn’t want it either, then, I was nineteen and dorm shopping and in love  with closet mirrors with clipped hangers that made you look far skinnier than humanly  possible. The split mirror was for haunted attics, or sides of trucks, or on the backs of  jaywalkers who’d cause you a glared car wreck. I didn’t want it. I dreamt of the mirror a while  later. Rather, it played an unpaid stand-in on a backfill nightmare, I’m wearing the velvet dress  (unpissed) and watching the party from the stairs above. My head’s between banister rods and  my knuckles are individually locked in the floral paneling. The party is full, and a bit more  historical-looking than previously thought — the dresses are all long, all velvet and feathered,  the men have sepia faces and coattails. They get older and older the longer I’m stuck, so I  thrash around a bit. Like a fish. And once I make it out, I’ve thrown myself over the highest  rail and everything stops. I fall very slowly and think very little. The people are getting  younger, thanks be. I see myself in the reflection of everything that’ll glare, the porch door, the  glassware, the silverware, the whites of eyes, the mirror. I hit the floor and I die, asleep still, I  know for the history-people speak louder to one another, saying She’s called home, saying  She’s succumbed. Then I’m reborn and it’s the memory, again, of the Holiday fly and limited  depth perception. There’s a reflection in the mirror from where I stand, someone, with tiny  fingers tracing the rim of the glass, I pull my hand from them and feel so distinctly the warm  rivulet spiraling forearm, I’m bleeding. I hear, Oh Jesus, and lots of heavy feet shuffling  around. People make everything worse when you need it all silent. In another dream, I’d cut  my hand and lie on the floor til bled to death, as intended. In this dream, everyone’s familiar  without a face and wants to touch my blood. I wish they’d all quiet and let me experience this  now, ‘stead of stripping me of the memory so they could take part in service work. The ones  with money dial separate ambulances, like cabbies, and hang each other’s phones up. The  smaller ones ask forty questions and cry for me, or themselves, or because they can’t  understand most anything. No one’s got a face and everyone’s got an expression, with their  hands and their tonalities, everyone’s got something to say and I wish I’d just die already.  

I call my brother once the dream’s up, recounting the bedlam and asking if he’d been to the grocer recently. He had, and got a new credit card, and asked if I remembered that day much. I said, It feels more like the dream than not, and he nodded his cheek to the receiver so I could  hear it. He asked, again, if I wanted it. I said, again, It’s never been quite right for me. I’d half anticipated hearing myself tell him to drop it off on his way to work next week but the demon in my stomach pushed otherwise. I read him a recipe I found on-line and he pretends to take  interest, I offer to write him a grocery list and he sighs and says I think that’s all. We hang up,  and I wonder if he’s docked the phone to throw that mirror out. He won’t. He wouldn’t. He’s  probably just gone to cry in the closet about Leigh-Ann, who by this point would be all but a  stranger to him. He misses Leigh-Ann. He misses Leigh-Ann more than he misses me. He  doesn’t think about the mirror much, I think. He thinks about Leigh-Ann, and Leigh-Ann  thinks about God knows what, and God watches me walk the kitchen in backward circles  while the water boils.  

At no certain point, the mirror’ll end up in an auction with marbles and baby socks and books  with torn covers and some lady in a hilarious hat will say, Hey Auctioneer, get that piece of  Shit off the stage! And the auctioneer will notice the split, and do so himself, and the whole  crowd will laugh and point and beat the mirror to bits.


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