You cover it up so that you don’t see your face swollen and sad. Let’s face it, nobody looks good after a breakup the second after it happens. You’re not special. Neither is your ex.
But this is for you. Get the towel and hang it over the mirror on the medicine cabinet. Good luck washing your face that night – getting all the soap off with water. But if you can’t wash your face that night, at least brush your teeth. You won’t be able to see the toothpaste that has run down to your chin. It’ll sleep there that night with you so that you won’t sleep alone.
You cover the mirror in your bedroom with a spare blanket. The room feels deserted, and you’re not even there yourself. You take down the one from the living room and hang up a picture of your parents instead. They didn’t like your ex.
You realize you need it to get ready for work. You’re not calling in, and everyone is proud of you for continuing with your routine. You take off the towel after two days of not looking in the mirror. You’re not that shocked. You cheated and saw yourself on your phone camera. Temptations.
You start to brush your teeth and as the water is running, the toothpaste runs down your wrist. It ticks you off. You rinse the side of your wrist as your gums bleed, cold water hitting your skin. You turn off the water and keep brushing and brushing. More violently now. You brush harder. You spit out green and red. Rinse. Spit. Rinse, spit. You don’t repeat.
You stare at yourself in the mirror and wish it was covered up again. You don’t need it. You don’t need your ex.
You cover it up again. You text your ex.
You use the mirror in your room to get ready to see your ex. You dress for them after weeks of switching between stained pajamas and your work uniform. You betray yourself and your self-esteem. Your best friend thinks you’re pathetic, but they’re patient and just tell you to tell them how it goes. They realize you’re having a weak moment.
You do your hair how they liked it and leave confident.
You come back two hours later, dog shit stuck under your shoe. It hurts worse than before and your best friend wants to say that they told you so SO bad during the phone call. But instead, they laugh at the dog shit stuck under your shoe. Ask if your ex placed it there on purpose, and you say: possibly. They’re that shitty.
You go into the bathroom to shower again. You look at your naked body and see one new red mark on your neck. You walk into your kitchen naked and take a spoon out of your freezer to place it there. You beg your skin to make the last memory of your last kisses fade as soon as possible.
You walk back into the bathroom and sit in the shower for an hour – or more. When you get out, there’s no need to cover the mirror with a towel. There’s steam sleeping on the glass, and you don’t have to see how red your eyes and mark on your collarbone are.
You break the mirror with your fists months after the breakup when you see that your ex is engaged. Your best friend goes over and calms you down. They make you clean up your own wound, though. They’re not about blood. They tuck you into bed and sweep up the remaining pieces of your medicine cabinet’s face. They lock your apartment door, and you sleep for hours. Your best friend leaves pizza on the counter that’ll be there when you wake up because nobody else will wait up for you. You eat it cold. You feel cold.
You crawl back into bed without washing your hands, get grease stains on your bed sheets. You cry about it to yourself because you ran out of Tide Pods last week. Then you cry about feeling lonely. You also cry about the fact that you want to be married already. You want kids. A lot of them. Or none at all would also be good. You could travel the world. See yourself in mirrors of different hotel bathrooms. Your ex would have just thought hotels were gross.
You remember you broke the mirror and cry about that. It never did anything wrong. It just told you the truth.
You get a new mirror and install it yourself. You have a new medicine cabinet. You picked it out yourself at Home Depot. You also bought three plants. You never had much of a green thumb, but you are parent to three plants now. You could have added ‘plant parent’ to your Instagram bio (ironically of course), but you deleted it.
You go up to your new mirror after getting ready and take a mirror selfie for the first time in ages. You send it to a group chat with your parents. They both send a lot of emojis, and you hope that the orange means something good.
You look good.
Yaritza Plata is a queer Chicana writer who grew up in the Central Valley in California. She’s always been surrounded by agriculture in her small town full of crows. She writes everything from fiction to prose, getting inspiration from her feeling towards other people, her culture, and watching her family grow and shrink. She is currently pursuing a B.A. in Creative Writing at the University of California Riverside.