By Kimberlee Akimoto
“Are you really going to wear that?”
Angela ignored the irritating voice she knew so well and hiked up her skirt just to goad Galena. It had been this way since they were five.
“Don’t you think you’re sending the wrong message?”
“What message is that?” Angela asked, feigning disinterest as she applied her signature color – Russian Red – to her perpetually downturned lips.
“Open for business,” Galena said sarcastically.
“Ha ha, very funny. Why can’t you just be quiet for once? You’re giving me a horrible headache.”
“Don’t be such an ingrate,” Galena snapped.
Angela was about to take umbrage at that last remark when something in the mirror startled her.
“Who the hell are you?” she exclaimed.
When no one replied, she spun around and discovered that she was alone in the room. Galena was gone. So was the strange woman she had seen standing in the doorway. Still, there was something vaguely familiar about that woman, which left her feeling oddly unsettled. Angela closed her eyes and tried to remember what she looked like: mid-thirties with dark tresses and cornflower blue eyes – just like her mother.
Angela hadn’t thought about her mother in a long time and with good reason: her mother abandoned her when she was five. She didn’t remember much about her mother except that she had been beautiful. There was something else but when she tried to remember, the dull pain in her head instantly intensified. Angela staggered back to the bathroom and pulled a bottle from the crammed medicine cabinet. Two tablets tossed back with a tumbler of whiskey… not enough. She took the bottle of vodka she had stashed behind the toilet and guzzled until she felt the pain in her head begin to recede.
“Angela dear, you can’t hide from me forever.”
Angela swung around but saw no one. Then she slowly turned her gaze to the bathroom mirror and saw the woman. She was standing directly behind her.
“Who are you?” Angela whispered with childlike fright.
The woman laughed. “Why, I’m your mother of course.”
Suddenly, Angela remembered everything.
Before her mother was taken away to a “special hospital,” she gave Angela two things: (1) her nightly bath, and (2) neurological damage from the near drowning. Angela shuddered when she remembered how cold the bathwater had been that night. When her five-year-old self screamed in protest, her mother became angry and unexpectedly pushed her under the water. From her submerged position, Angela could see her mother’s contorted face grinning at her.
Where did this memory come from? She didn’t want it.
“Don’t worry Angie,” Galena said comfortingly. “You don’t have to remember. I’ll remember for you. I’ll always protect you – like I did that night.”
Angela looked into the mirror at the reflection that both she and Galena shared and smiled in relief as Galena pushed the memory of their mother back into the dark recesses of their mind where it patiently awaited the next slip in consciousness.