Smiles had twisted her dimples into view countless times. Tears had washed her cheeks as many. Meaningless gestures of emotion, Ruby thought. Hours she had practiced them in the mirror. Hours over years, wrenching expression from the bowels of apathy, regurgitating it for her reflection in mock display. For how long now? Since she was a child anyway. And for what? Every minute she spent alone dared her to deny it.
Cosmetics masked her face as rehearsal masked her soul. Yet, it was as if somehow they could all still see her. Whatever terrible imperfection lurked inside her, making her hideous, it didn’t show on her face. It didn’t alter the pageantry she portrayed. The mirror made that plain. No harmonic belied the lilt of her voice. Her perfumes were divine. Yet, they saw it, or maybe they sensed it.
But Kyle, at last was different. Kyle loved her. Every smile, every twinkle in her eye, each nuance of each mood must be perfect for him. Ruby watched helplessly as a veil of fear fell over her. I am perfect, she fought. But the words were distant, as if they were whispered, from another dimension, a world where doubt didn’t prey and the loneliness didn’t torment.
If Kyle was like the others, it didn’t matter anymore. He was hers now at least for tonight. She smiled and her reflection smiled with her.
“He’s here because he saw something in me no one else saw,” she whispered.
Her perfectly rehearsed reflection believed the words. She set the mirror down and with it the crazy world of shadows it emanated in her mind. One last deep breath, and she turned and entered the bedroom.
Kyle lay peacefully on the bed waiting. Ruby smiled at him and walked to sit by his side. “I love you,” she whispered, running her fingers gently through his hair. Kyle stared up at her in silence. A thin smile rested on his lips and she leaned to kiss him.
“Kyle…?” she sat up. “I… I can’t tell you how much it means that you believed in me.”
His expression didn’t change. A photograph of a perfect moment, she thought.
“You probably won’t need this anymore,” she said with sweet apology on her voice. “May I?”
Still his expression didn’t change.
She slowly drew the knife out of his stomach and admired the tiny hot spring of crimson following obediently as the blade led the way from his punctured heart.
“You would have stopped believing in me, you know,” she said, wiping the knife on his shirt. “I couldn’t let that happen.” She paused for a moment and then giggled. “You do believe that don’t you?”
Kyle stared back at her with his photograph gaze. Of course he believed her. Her guise was perfect! Ruby took the knife back into the other room. She laid it carefully in front of her. She picked up the mirror, and with it the crazy world of shadows it emanated in her mind. The knife glistened, the only remaining light in Ruby’s darkness.
“You believe I love you, don’t you?” she asked. “Promise me you’ll never see me the way the others do.”
© 2012 Anne Schilde