Abigail looked in the mirror. Same old face. Honestly the way her life was going she wondered why she had a need for mirrors at all. She wasn’t sure if they were accurately reflecting what was reality or were they just some cruel fun house prank created by someone with low self-esteem to torment the masses and make them face their own demons. She splashed some water on her face as if to wash away the bad thoughts in her mind. There was no way that she was the only person in the world who felt like this when they looked at themselves. Mirrors are a mysterious thing. Their sole purpose in this life is to reflect what is shown before it, whether that be good or bad. They can be used to amplify light or create a sense of balance. In some cultures, it is said that they hold magical properties. All of which Abigail had no time to reflect on. You see Abigail was one of those people that settled. She gave up on the road less travelled and resigned to slave and toil for 40 hours a week like everyone else. Her idea of excitement was binge watching Netflix on a Saturday night…alone if you discount the company of Ben and Jerry. Life had become mundane and the act of leaving her house was enough to give her pause. Somewhere along the way she had lost her sense of adventure.
She was engulfed in a system that valued profit and those at the top. Anyone or thing below that was irrelevant. So here she was…Miss Irrelevant in the mirror about to be late for an irrelevant job that would fire her irrelevant ass then she wouldn’t be able to pay her irrelevant bills and live in her small irrelevantly tiny apartment. Abigail sighed audibly. She thought about all the random decisions she had made in her life… She wondered if there was some mistake she had made somewhere along the way that could’ve drastically effected the outcome of her present day. Maybe it was that time she turned down that one job or the time she turned down going on a date with that one guy with the glasses. What if life was like the butterfly effect and just one small change, her choosing a bagel instead of eggs for breakfast, could completely change her life. Life happens in those small moments. One minute you’re driving home as usual and in the next moment there’s a deer face first in your windshield. If you had taken just one more minute getting ready or taken the regular route instead of trying that new short cut… Abigail knew this was a lot to ponder in the morning. Her head was still trying to adjust to being awake and here she was contemplating the way life worked. She looked again in the mirror as she thought one last time about the what ifs. Still the same old face. She tried to smile at it. Nope nothing. She rolled her eyes as she tried to get her life together. She paused. For a second it appeared as if there was a slight distortion in the mirror. Abigail studied the mirror carefully. Maybe this was a sign that she needed coffee and less sci-fi in her life. She almost laughed out loud. Yes this was definitely the result of too much television. She finished getting ready and headed out to work.
After another meaningless day of customer service which is enough to drive any sane person mad… Abigail returned to her sanctuary. It’s alarming how someone who would consider themselves quite polite could be so rude once they get just the slightest of powers. She had a headache. She never imagined in life that she would be one of those people who made their careers in the hospitality industry. If you asked her what she would be doing at her age 15 years ago she would’ve told you she was going to be a doctor saving patients and delivering healthy babies. Definitely not even remotely close to working the reception desk at a hotel which you would think would be straight forward but you would be surprised at some of the stories and things that went on. Abigail had a routine when she got home from work. She would take her shoes off, pop a TV dinner in the oven and plop down on the couch with her feet up. After standing up all day there was no better relief than sitting on the couch. Unless her food was done she would just sit there with the TV off and her phone out of reach. It was nice to be able to enjoy just a little peace and quiet and honestly not talking to anyone. After a whole day of being around people she just wanted to unwind and not think about the lady who went on a tirade because she had reserved her rooms for the incorrect days or the man who complained because the room next to his had a squalling baby in it. For that brief moment, she could’ve been a decorative pillow on the couch and her job was just to be.
Unfortunately, on this day her moment of Zen was disrupted by the ringing of her phone. Her phone was all the way on the little table by the door which to her might as well have been on the other side of the world. She opted to ignore it. It rang again. This time it was as if the call was somehow louder and urgent. She groaned as she dragged her feet to the little table by the door. It was one of her friends. Probably calling to divulged in some seedy story about the latest doings of her boyfriend. Abigail silenced her phone and went to the bathroom. She had been single for some time now and honestly didn’t have the energy right now to be reminded of it.
She again looked at herself in the mirror. Her face was appealing and her body still had the general shape of someone who was relatively healthy. Personality wise she didn’t think she was so terrible and she had a good head on her shoulders. She shrugged. Life was a bitch. Maybe if she was more of a bitch she would have someone to share it with. It seemed to her that all the worthless were getting matched up with great guys so maybe she just had too much worth? Was that even a thing? She again studied her face in the mirror. She could see the appearance of lines that were beginning to show. When had those gotten there? One thing about worry lines is you don’t seem to worry about them as much…until you get them. Under her eyes were the faint traces of bags. She looked as tired as she felt. She knew that no amount of water could wash away her worn-down expression. She probably could’ve stood there longer if she didn’t have to go check on her tired worn-down food in the oven. This was life, she thought, again she sighed audibly. She hoped for a better tomorrow. As she was about to turn away the mirror again distorted. Okay now she was getting worried. Was it the lack of sleep that had her hallucinating? Maybe she needed to eat something and her lack of food was causing her to see things. She rubbed her eyes not caring anymore that it would ruin the little bit of make-up she applied that morning. Abigail stared at herself. The girl in the mirror stared back with the same bewildered face. She moved her hand to the left and right as if she expected the figure in the reflection not to match her movement. Now she really laughed out loud she was completely losing it. She shook her head fiercely as if she could literally shake the ideas out of her head. There was not going to be any television tonight. She apparently was watching too much of it. Abigail went to the kitchen to go get her food. It wasn’t long after she finished eating that she fell fast asleep.
Another day another dollar. Just one because at the rate she was going it felt like everything was stacked against her. Especially student loans. How can they say they value education if it literally cost an arm and a leg to get some? Then you end up with a pretty piece of paper and a regular job with shit pay. If the system was really set up for us to be successful they definitely missed their mark. These thoughts came to Abigail as she woke up from a haunting dream. In her dream, she was in this maze where her objective was to get the cheese at the end. But before she could ever get to the cheese something catastrophic would happen such as a great spewing volcano forming in front of her. How random, she thought. She slowly opened her eyes. The room was brighter than usual. She almost felt as if the sunlight coming in through the window was mocking her brooding thoughts. As her eyes adjusted to the light she slowly began to move her body a bit and wiggle her toes. She felt something by her feet. She paused. Maybe she fell asleep with a book or something in the bed but she hadn’t been reading the night before…. She felt around with her feet again. Whatever it was, it was large. She reached again with her toes exploring around trying to make sense of what was in the covers with her when she heard a groan behind her. Abigail’s hair stood on end and without another thought she jumped into a standing position towering over the mass in the bed beside her. The man moved a little as her sudden movement caused him some discomfort but he continued to sleep. Abigail looked down at him alarmed. The only way she could describe him was that he was her dream guy. He appeared tall, muscular, nice curly hair, and a gorgeous caramel complexion. Now she was really confused. She looked around the room. Where was her little irrelevant apartment? More importantly when did she leave last night? Had he kidnapped her? How did she get here?
The man stirred again and rolled over. She noticed he had had a ring on his finger. Did she sleep with a married man? She looked down at her fancy negligee. Did this creep put this on her too? What kind of guy kidnaps a girl and puts her in fancy nighties? Then she noticed a sparkle of the suns ray on her own finger. Every girl has her own dream of what her wedding ring would look like and here in real life straight out of a bridal magazine was one of the biggest most stunning rings she had ever seen. This had to be a dream. She looked around the room again. It appeared to be a large master bedroom with modern furniture. She got down from the bed slowly as not to awaken the stranger. Beside the bed there was a picture of a happy couple with their two small children. In the picture, it appeared to be some woman who looked just like Abigail with the biggest smile on their faces. It looked as if it was a memento from a family vacation to Disneyworld. Now she knew it had to be some sort of dream. If it was a dream, she theorized that if she had opened up the blinds she would find a view of the beach and the Pacific Ocean. She went into what she thought was the bathroom. Wrong, she opened the door to find a massive walk in closet with what looked to be a his and hers side. Yes this dream was amazing she thought as she surveyed the Jimmy Choos and Versace bags all lined up on the shelves. She went back into the bedroom and found the correct door for the master bathroom. The bathroom was marble and there was definitely a Jacuzzi and a steam room. This dream just got better and better she thought. She looked into the mirror. Looking back at her was not the same Abigail from the morning before but looking back at her was the woman from the picture on the side table. Abigail rubbed her eyes in disbelief. If this was a dream, this was the most elaborate ruse her imagination had ever pulled on her. She only dared to wonder what would happen next… She didn’t get to think too long before she heard the laughter and glee of what she assumed were her children crashing into the bedroom.
“Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!!!” cried the first child.
“We’re hungry! Wake up!” cried the second child.
“Daddy! Mommy!” cried the first child again.
“Okay okay… shhhhh…. You know your mommy needs to rest… go wait for me downstairs,” groaned the man as he got out of bed and lumbered into the bathroom. “Oh, what are you doing up?”
“Who me?” Abigail asked, feeling a little stupid.
“Yeah you,” he said as he walked over to the toilet. He rubbed his eyes and pull out his privates to pee.
“’Oh my…ummm I mean I just couldn’t sleep anymore,” she replied as she turned away and shielded her eyes.
“Okay well I have to stay late at work again so I called the babysitter already…” he said as he flushed.
“Umm okay, yeah…” Abigail stuttered. She wasn’t sure how to respond to this dream man.
“Don’t start this again. I told you I was done fooling around with her. I fired her months ago,” he replied gruffly.
Abigail was speechless. She feigned a nod/shrug thing and walked out the bathroom. Some dream she was having. Not even 5 minutes into the dream and her husband was already a cheater. She inhaled deeply. Maybe she could try to force herself awake. She had heard that in a dream you don’t feel pain. She slapped herself in the face. SMACK! Ow, she thought. Okay so maybe they lied when they created that theory… She decided she might as well go with the flow of the dream until she woke up. It was only natural in this scenario that she went to meet her children. With that in mind she put on a robe that she spotted that was draped over a chair next to the window and proceed out and down the stairs.
Sitting in front of the TV were the two little angels from the picture yet angels were the last thing you could probably describe them as at the moment. They were currently in an intense tug of war battle over the remote control. Both of them fiercely yelling at the top of their lungs their arguments as to why their choice of show was superior to the others. If this wasn’t birth control she wasn’t sure what was. In her regular life, she would return these children promptly to the adults they belonged to but in the dream she had no one else to give them to.
“Quiet!” She shouted, “You guys can either agree on one show, or I will pick something for you.”
“Okay, okay!” they both replied.
Abigail looked at them with satisfaction and went into the kitchen. As soon as she crossed the threshold of the door the children went right back to their bickering. She rolled her eyes as she began to survey the area. On the fridge, she located a calendar with a schedule of the family’s activities. The emergency contact information that she assumed was more so for the children and the babysitter placed her employment at the hospital. She had apparently worked late the night before which would explain why her husband, whose name was Gavin according to chart, wondered why she was already up. According to the calendar she worked a lot and was rarely around. He was apparently some software engineer or something and worked almost as much as she did. The children were home for the summer and spent a lot of their time in extracurricular activities and nannies/babysitters. Also apparent was that she had an appointment later that day to interview another nanny. The note beside the appointment said “Hopefully the last one!” suggesting that this was a common occurrence. Her thoughts were interrupted by Gavin’s entrance to the kitchen. He appeared already showered and ready for work.
“So hey…” she said timidly.
“Sorry I snapped on you in the bathroom. I just get tired of you always bringing the past up. I don’t know how we are supposed to move forward if you are always in the past. Like you’re just pushing me further away from you. I don’t know how much longer I’m willing to fight for us but I don’t really want to talk about it now,” Gavin spilled out.
“Wow ummm okay…” she replied not knowing what to say.
“See here you go shutting down on me like always. This is why I don’t even bother talking to you. All that money for those stupid therapy sessions, what a waste…” replied Gavin with annoyance.
“Guess people don’t say good morning anymore?” asked Abigail confused.
“Ha Ha… you’re such a fucking comedian. You can’t even take what I say seriously. I think we should get divorced. How’s that for funny? All you do is work and belittle me. At least SHE would touch me! When was the last time you even kissed me?” Gavin snapped.
“Look I don’t know what’s going on but–”
“That’s the problem! You’re never around to know what’s going on!”
“Can you make the kids breakfast for once? I’m just gonna get a bite to eat on my way to the office!”
Gavin grabbed his keys and wallet and huffily walked out the kitchen. The noise of the children fighting in the living room had long ceased and Abigail was left bewildered in the kitchen. So much for a dream marriage. 20 minutes into the dream and she was already getting divorced. The children slowly came into the kitchen with their heads hanging low.
“Why do you guys always have to fight?” asked the boy.
“Sometimes adults just don’t get along…” she explained.
“How come you’re never home? Do you hate us?” asked the girl.
“No of course I don’t hate you guys. When you get to be my age, you’re going to have to work to provide for your families. I work so I can take care of you both…now what would you guys like for breakfast?” she replied.
The children made their requests and ate their breakfast in silence. This was almost too much for Abigail to endure. Just a couple of hours ago she never even had children. When they finished, they went out into the backyard together and went to play.
Abigail didn’t have to go to work for a few hours so she decided to try to find out about this dream life of hers. She located a cell phone upstairs that was supposedly hers. She had a lot of missed messages from some guy named Nathan. From the racy texts and pictures, it appeared that she too was having an affair. She never thought she’d be the type of woman who could even consider an affair. In the back of the closet she uncovered a diary. Her diary. The picture on the table painted a very different picture than the foreign words her other-self had written. According to the book she hadn’t been happy for a long time. She had spent so much of her life working to get to where she was she had neglected those who she meant something to. She rarely spoke with her family and she was never there for her immediate family. Apparently, the marital problems began early and it was a wonder that they were still together though it hadn’t been 10 years yet. A scream interrupted any more of her prying. She dashed downstairs and outside in the backyard to only find her daughter crying hysterically at the top of her lungs.
“What’s wrong?!?!?” She asked her.
“The waves took him!”
“What do you mean?!?!?”
Abigail looked out into the ocean frantically. Luckily she still had her phone on her so she could call 911. She briefly told them the situation before she gave the phone to her daughter and told her to stay on the line with them while she searched for her son. Abigail ran down to the water and without hesitation she dove right in. She could feel the weight of her robe weighing her down as she tried to fight the power of nature pushing her back to shore. In the distance she could see a little body floating lifelessly in the waves. She thrashed and fought her way to him. Sure enough it was her son. His eyes were closed and there wasn’t any breath escaping from his lips. She dragged his little rag doll body to the shore and proceeding to do CPR on him. By now her daughter had come down to where she was and just stood there wide-eyed crying silently. Abigail thrusted on upon his tiny chest and tried to breathe life back into his body. Over and over until the ambulance got there. There was nothing that could be done. There was nothing else left to do. The life of the little boy was gone and there was nothing. She hadn’t had a son for long but her heart broke just the same. She hurt so much that she had withdrawn from everyone and everything. The medics words couldn’t break the barrier that she had put up. All she could do was hold her daughters hand and sit there. Someone took the phone from her daughter and got a hold of Gavin. He was on his way.
Neighbors would tell you that you could hear Gavin before he actually got there. Before the car jumped the curb and before the door slammed you could hear him. He was irate. Irate in the way that only a volcano such as Vesuvius could be before it rained chaos onto the poor recipients below it. Abigail could only half hear what he was screaming at her. There was a lot of “How could you let this happen” and “You were so irresponsible” and “You couldn’t even be there for 5 mins” and “I’m done with you”, etc. By now Abigail felt she should’ve woken up. This dream was by far the worst nightmare ever. Dream house, dream husband, dream job, dream kids…kid…dream life. Real pain. She thought about the times in her real life she thought that if only she had had these things that everything would be okay…that everything would be as they should. She had picture all the good that could come if only she had done this or had not done that but she could have never imagined this. Abigail dreamed the good but could never imagine this bad. She couldn’t take this. Here in this big beautiful house by the ocean her whole world that she knew for so brief a period was crashing down. Gavin so frustrated by her lack of response took her daughter from her and declared he was leaving. It wasn’t until the door slammed that she finally broke down. All the shock wore off and the tears flowed freely, what also flowed freely was the stash of vodka that she found in the kitchen. If she couldn’t drown herself in her tears, she was going to drink her feelings away. She found herself stumbling in the twilight on the beach towards the water. She had neglected to tell her dream job that she wasn’t going to make in today not that it mattered anyway. Abigail was going to go join her son…
The alarm went off. Abigail reached out to hit the snooze. She didn’t remember setting the alarm nor going to bed for that matter. She assessed herself before removing the covers from her head. Hmmm no hang over. That’s always a blessing… She slowly lowered the covers down and peered out at her surroundings. In the middle of the ceiling was the irrelevant dingy ceiling fan which on this occasion gave her a joyful surprise. She was back in her irrelevant apartment with her irrelevant job in her irrelevant life and it felt great! Abigail once again went into the bathroom. This time when she looked into the mirror it wasn’t a stranger looking back at her. She wasn’t concerned with the bags under her eyes or the wrinkles that had begun to form on her forehead. She brushed her hair out of her face and smiled. Yes this was the Abigail she knew. This was the smile she knew. She was home.
Abigail didn’t have her dream job, dream husband, dream kids, or dream life, yet she felt empowered. What are those things if you get them and they don’t mean anything to you? Everything around her and the life she had built for herself were not the best but they were hers. She was there every day taking advantage of the blessings she had been given. She was so consumed by her disappointment and disgruntled attitude that she never even attempted to improve her life. She thought about all the opportunities she had missed out on because she was too lazy or too complacent. She thought about all the times she wasted by sitting around and letting herself get into a slump. Today she decided she wasn’t going to do that anymore. Today she decided that she would have a real smile on her face. Today she decided that she would do something that would make her happy. Even if it was something small. Yes, today she was going to go to work, come home, and instead of plopping on the couch to eat a TV dinner, she was going to treat herself to a nice meal. Maybe she would even get a nice bottle of wine to celebrate the day she took her life back. The day she realized that life was what you make of it and having all the things you think you need aren’t going to improve it. What looks good doesn’t always smell good. Though the pain of losing the son she never had would never leave her… Abigail knew that she was blessed with a second chance of creating a life worth living.