Bri’s Reflection

beauty-156981_640Bri jumped at the sound of the door opening behind her. A plump woman in a bright, flower patterned dress quietly showed herself to a stall and clicked the green door shut. Bri just caught sight of a natural male enhancement ad in the woman’s magazine before she looked again to her own reflection. A feeling of heaviness slumped her shoulders. She barely recognized the ghostly thing that stared back at her from behind the mirror. Her pale face was gaunt and too thin. The dark bags under her eyes made all too clear just how little she had been able to sleep recently, and her wispy black hair was so tangled and gritty it looked ready to fall out.

She searched her purse for a way to hide her degenerating health, swallowing against the taste of morning breath in her dry mouth, which also described the odor of what she hoped was the molding bathroom. Pulling out an eyelash curler, she winced when her attempt to liven her dull amber eyes yielded nothing more than a soft poke in the eye. One eye shut, she fumbled through her purse until she found her toner. An unsteady hand streaked the toner across her cheek, marking her pallid face with an unfitting smear of tan. She massaged her cheek, trying to even out the poorly applied toner, and almost fell backwards.

With a rising sense of panic, she lost her ability to delude herself. She needed to go to a hospital; they could help her. And she was risking getting other people sick. None of that was enough though. The doctors . . .

A vibration in her pocket startled her, stopping the building terror in its tracks. She had trouble focusing her eyes to read the message. “We no ur sick wait ther”. No doubt Bri’s younger sister Lisa and their mom had deduced the problem by now and tracked her down. She had been “missing” their calls for over two weeks. But if they knew, they would force her to see them.

Her breath stuttered when as her imagination took off. I know it’s that new strain I heard about on the news. They’ll have to quarantine me and wear those hazmat suits.

She pictured herself totally abandoned, trapped behind the plastic curtains she had seen in the movies. White cinder block walls, grey ceiling, white and speckled tiled floor, no windows, and no furniture, aside from the small steel barred bed upon which she lay . She was trapped in an expressionless empty room in the middle of a vast, deserted hospital, so isolated she could scream all day and never be heard by anyone except her alien visitors, cut off from her by their suits so that they could hold her hand and still be as distant as the sun, whose warm rays could never reach her.

She broke down at the thought of such complete loneliness, gasping for ragged breaths between the sobs. Moaning in misery, she finally gave up, falling to the ground in despair.

A soft clatter of spilling cosmetics and the tapping heel of her trembling beige ankle-strapped sandal echoed through the bathroom as she rested, legs trembling, upon the grimy tiled floor. The trembling spread through her entire body, and the seizure grew steadily stronger, setting her spine to writhing and extremities to flailing. Waves of pain undulated throughout her, every muscle pulsing with agony. She tried to scream, but she couldn’t take a breath. It was too much. Too much . . .

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