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Seated beside the mirror, she paused once in a while to catch herself glancing over. She was never how she imagined; that quick glance of owlish uncertainty that then led to inevitable scrutiny. This mark here, that mark there. The rings around her eyes a little darker than expected, and the rest of her face a patchwork of white and red. She smiled feebly at her reflection, and then felt stupid for doing so.

In her recent dreams, she had mostly looked down on herself from above. She never looked the same for more than one scene of the dream, distorting into different guises as it progressed. So often she found herself looking at someone she imagined was herself, but knew couldn’t be. One moment she was a man, the next a girl of 9, the next some a blurred figure she couldn’t look at directly.

Her unconscious seemed unsatisfied with the figure she held in reality, and why not? There was something freeing about not being fixed to herself, being able to float in the in-between.

A therapist had once told her that her brain was split into the minds of her mother and father. That her mother was the rational side and her father the emotional. Somehow she expected to see that mirrored in her face. A thin line separating her features straight down the middle. Instead she saw the quiet blue eyes of her grandfather staring back, and she wondered what he’d think of her now. Caged man, only filling up memories on the sideline, never the center.

She wondered if this was who she was now, fixed to this face. If she was, she decided she felt okay about it. She smiled at herself again, a little stronger this time, and went back to work.

Christmas with us

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I’ve had to look quite far back through my catalogue to find even a few vaguely Christmassy pictures. It seems I don’t take a lot of pictures around this time of year. I’d like to say it’s because I’m too invested ~in the spirit of Christmas~ but that would be a lie. It’s far more likely that huge amounts of essays have held me back from taking a moment to appreciate the festivities: although, to be quite honest, there aren’t usually many festivities anyway.

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