The Sacred Shards of Shara Shaden’s Secret Soul
She looked into the mirror at her face, but averted her eyes when she saw that it looked broken and cracked. She touched the mirror with her trembling fingers and felt that the mirror was perfectly smooth and that there was not a single imperfection that might make her face appear the way it did. At the same time, the fingers on her other hand reached up to touch her face, and it, like the mirror, felt smooth and with not a single imperfection. At least it was perfect until it wrinkled as she started to weep.
Her smooth skin had always been a source of personal pride and a source of envy for others, yet now she could not even gaze upon herself for the briefest of moments without seeing a face that looked as if it were a fragile structure struck hard and often with some irresistible object. It did not feel that way to her when she touched it, but whenever she looked at it in the mirror, that was what she saw.
At first, she thought that it was something to matter with her eyes. That was a week ago in the restroom at school, when she and her best friend…at that she started to wail loudly because she couldn’t remember who her best friend was anymore because she had so many of them in so many different places and times… had stepped in to check themselves before going on to the next class. It was then that she noticed a long, jagged crack that started in the middle of her forehead and twisted sharply left and right as it wound its way down to her chin.
Jaimie Coffee…yes, that was who was with her at that moment… had said that she looked perfectly fine and even when they both looked into the mirror together, cheek to cheek, Jaimie said that everything looked fine. But in the eyes of…what was her name!? She couldn’t even remember her own name any longer because so many people in so many places called her so many things that it was all just a big jumble of names and surnames and titles….
Her name was Jessica Wells.
In the eyes of Jessica Wells, the image that was hers next to Jaimie’s was cracked. From top to bottom, splitting it not-so-cleanly into two distinct halves: a left one and a right one. And when she touched her face, and when Jaimie touched her face with her, it felt perfectly fine.
So she went to the nurse’s office to have the nurse look at her eyes, and the nurse concluded that there was nothing she could see that was wrong with her eyes. The nurse had said gaily: “My, but you do have the most beautiful blue eyes that I have ever seen! The look like little round sapphires, don’t they?”
But now, less than a week later, Jessica could not tell, for the eyes that she would normally see in the mirror had vanished four days ago. All that was there were empty hollows of some indescribable shape, just like you see when pieces of a broken mirror fall out. Except in this case, the broken mirror was her face.
And to add to her misery, was the loss of memory that seemed to accelerate with the number of cracks in her face in the mirror. It wasn’t exactly a loss of memory, because she could remember the names of all her friends and she could remember the names of all the places she has been to, but she couldn’t properly sort them out.. it was as if someone had taken everything she knew, disconnected it from all the references to which that knowledge belonged, scrambled them in a big kettle like stirring names for Pollyanna, and the wrong person drew the wrong memory to which he or she was supposed to be associated. And most strange was the fact that, as the number of cracks that appeared in her face increased, so too did the number of people and places that were added to the mix.
So her mother took her to a psychologist. The psychologist said it was stress caused by familial turmoil, school and her newfound obsession with boys.
That was the first one. The second and third ones said it was the fragmentation of their family unit that made her feel bisected, trisected, then finally fissured.
The ex-family physician said it was the result of menarchy.
But one of her friends, and she could not recall who that person was, said it was okay. That everything would be all right. She said that she should not worry, because there was truly nothing to fear. And that was what she held on to for as long as she could.
Even as she turned away from the mirror in her bedroom and trudged back to sit on the edge of her bed, she held on to that friend’s consolation. And she repeated it to herself, this quiet mantra meant to ease her fears and calm her heart.
She took a deep breath and drew the fluffy pink sleeve of her favorite bathrobe across her face to wipe away the tears that tickled her skin as they slowly wound their way down her cheek toward her chin. She wondered if the tears were guided by the cracks in her face the way raging waters are guided through the sheer black granite canyons in the great deserts of a place called Sughel where her friend Mirine dwelled. Just thinking, she could almost again feel the heat of the twin suns that baked the lands for half the year before the great gas giant of a planet called Nori eclipsed one of the suns, bringing the great rains of the lands cooled around Mirine’s world of Dolornea.
Or perhaps the tears were like the Weather Winds of the planet Uhr, which carve out great mountains ranges out of the sparkling brown sand swells, only to tear them down into deep gorges and bottomless ravines in the course of months, and then rain down sand and stone to fill them and begin the process again and again.
Such places she has seen, and been, and so many people she has known, and all of them, to a person, said how beautiful she was, and how precious her skin was, even as she saw it as cracked and broken and falling out in tiny slabs to leave gaping holes in what she saw of herself.
Her beautiful room, once her place of comfort and repose, was like distant place to her now. Its softness and pinkness and sweetness were remote, and she did not like being there. It was so small and cramped, and now that most of the mirrors that it once contained were gone so that she would not have to see herself any more than necessary, it was a reflection of the way she looked too. Where the mirrors were once, now gaping spaces remained, outlined in the subtle change in shading of the wall paint that had been unexposed to the fading actions of light. The stuffed animals, looking fluffy and puffy and happy with their plush shagginess, no longer made her feel happy, but made her feel jealous of them and their gaiety, as she no longer had any left. And the sweet aroma of the scented oil canisters that her mother bought for her and planted throughout the room, almost made her nauseous with their willing eagerness to overwhelm her senses. Gah! It was almost as if she were eating the stuff, as she tasted it on her tongue every time she opened her mouth just from the sheer concentration of the fragrances in the air.
Instead of fretting about the taste and smells around her, instead of concerning herself with the overly soft textures of everything around her in her bedroom, she decided to just lay back upon her bed, and wit her magnificent sapphire-like blue eyes, stare into the ceiling and think about the places she’s been and all the wonderful things she’s seen. Whenever she did that, it mattered less to her that the images of herself in the mirrors were fractured and incomplete. It was so hard to do, but whenever she could manage it, everything was all right with the world. In fact, everything was all right with the worlds she’s seen and experienced.
As she did so, she could feel her heart slow, and her angst fade away until nothing mattered beyond what was in her imagination of those places visited, those things seen, those people befriended, and what her life would be like if she were to simple choose one place to dwell and one life to live.
Even as she lay there and even as she felt the number of places that she knew and loved in her mind fade away like distant memories of forgotten dreams, the sensation of pieces of her falling away from her did not matter. For a fleeting moment, she knew that if she had looked at herself in the mirror at that moment, she would have seen nothing left of herself, because all that she was, like the glass from a broken mirror fallen away, was no more.
The fleeting moment fled, and Jessica Wells was no more.
Shard One: I Hate Moments of Silence, For They Allow Me To Hear The Beating of My Heart, Which Sounds Like A Time Bomb
Shara Shaden trembled and wanted to cry. For so many reasons, she wanted to cry—just crawl into a corner, wrap her arms around her knees, bury her head, and cry like there was no tomorrow. Her heart raced and she could not breathe, and her scrambled thoughts tried in vain to align themselves into something she could grasp and hold on to to help her straighten out this awful mess that she was suddenly submerged in. But it was of no use. Her thoughts could not be controlled by mere wish, and she doubted if even the most regimented of her mother’s meditation techniques could have given her any more stability or direction or sense of purpose than she was suddenly, helplessly searching for. She was afraid that nothing could.
It was a beautiful autumn day. The air outside was cool and crisp, and the tatter of leaves that seemed to blanket every street around the campus and every walkway throughout it had been a wondrous song heralding yet another day filled with the joy of learning. The friends that had walked with her to campus all had wonderful stories of how they spent their weekends doing all sorts of wonderful things, and they were oh so eager to share their experiences with their other friends once they reach school. She even remembered how the sky had been so deep blue that it looked like the sky could know no other color. In all, it had been a wonderful start to the week that was supposed to be a very exciting one.
Yet it all ended with the suddenness of a runaway car striking down a child. In this case, there was no car, and the child being struck down was one of her classmates. While she did not know her particularly well, she knew her when she saw her, because she was of such extraordinary beauty and grace and intelligence that she was easily head and shoulders above many of the other students around her. She had a magnetic personality that drew many people toward her, and they flocked to her as if she were some shepherdess bent on showing them the way to beauty and grace that was her hallmark.
But now she was gone. Gone by the failing of her own flesh and blood by all accounts. It wasn’t as if some ghastly event had stripped her of her life, and it’s not as if age had ravaged her and illness afflicted her and ultimately drover her to her end. That’s the way it was supposed to happen. It wasn’t supposed to happen to beautiful, happy, healthy young girls in their early teen years in the manner in which it happened. Young people—kids don’t just die! They get killed by villainous creatures that walk on two legs, or get into accidents caused by drunk drivers, or drown in swimming pools, or hit their heads doing crazy stunts that they were warned not to do. The don’t just die! Not without cause. Maybe they even have some congenital birth defect that lay dormant for thirteen or fourteen years, and then strikes with the swiftness of a black mamba and just as deadly. Heart attack, cerebral hemorrhage, brain aneurism. But to just die? With the coroner’s report showing no signs of foul play, no trauma, no thing that can be traced to some medical cause or condition…
Yet… yet… according to Miss Lyne, who stood with her hands clasped in front of her, and her head bowed in the school-wide moment of silence for the fallen school mate, that was exactly what had happened to Jessica Wells. Jessica Wells had just died. Just like that. No cause, no condition, no reason. A true mystery, Shara recalled Miss Lyne saying just before the moment of silence was announced over the loud speaker by the principal.
The Sacred Shards of Shara Shaden’s Secret Soul © 2008 Walter R. Milton