After brushing her teeth, Arikah stood in her tiny bathroom and stared at her reflection in the mirror. Staring in the mirror had worked its way into her morning routine again. Arikah remembered a time when she had been beautiful. She longed for that feeling of superiority that came when others were jealous of her looks. Knowing that she was better than everyone else had become an addiction, one that had not disappeared with her looks. In the past, she had used beauty as a way to control others. Arikah fed on this control as if it were a drug. The high she got from it surpassed even the strongest street drugs.
“Jealousy, the green-eyed monster,” Arikah thought as her gaze turned to her own grotesque eyes. She hated what she had become. In an ironic twist of fate, she had gone from using the green-eyed monster to actually being a green-eyed monster. Ugliness permeated her world now. Ugliness had crept from her skin into her soul and she projected it onto others. The thing staring back at her in the mirror wasn’t even human. Occasionally, people still told her she was beautiful, but Arikah found the lies insulting, refusing to believe that anyone could find anything at all about her attractive. Little did she realize that her own beliefs about herself had shaped what she had become and hastened the change. Arikah refused to see anything good about the change, even though she had discovered the magic inside her when her looks had faded.
The change had started slowly but after a time, it quickly gathered speed, fueled by both the magic inside Arikah and her own feelings about herself. Though she didn’t realize it, her mind had become even more twisted than her body. Her perception of reality had become distorted. When others were no longer spellbound by her looks, Arikah lost the ability to control them. Her drug dealer had died. She drifted for a time, willing the changes to undo themselves. Always independent and in control, Arikah feared losing this more than anything, but she would not allow herself to accept her fear. Over time, Arikah became driven by this fear and the addiction that had so consumed her for most of her life. Arikah defined herself by independence and control. She was not about to let that slip away, no matter what happened.
Before Arikah discovered the magic she possessed, her body had deteriorated to the point where she had difficulty with day-to-day tasks. The people who had surrounded her only because of her beauty had long since abandoned her. These were the people she could control. Arikah hadn’t come to grips with this loss when the change began to affect not just her looks, but her ability to live on her own as well. At first she lost her strength. She lost weight, and her once gorgeous figure diminished to barely more than skin and bones. Arikah’s friends and family had offered to help, but she refused any and all help. She insisted that she didn’t need them, fueled by her hidden fear of losing her independence. Arikah had not been prepared for what came next. She had been able to deal with her diminutive size and need for frequent rest interrupted by bursts of energy that came at the most inconvenient times. She had been able to deal with her patterns deviating from the norm. She no longer slept and ate when other people did. None of this bothered Arikah. She was still able to fulfill her obligations, although with some difficulty. The change took an unexpected turn, wreaking havoc on her body. Arikah became fat and ugly, just like the people she had become accustomed to manipulating with her beauty. She loathed them, saw them as inferior. As if that weren’t bad enough, her eyes, once her best feature, began to change as well. In addition to becoming protruding masses of bloodshot grotesqueness, her eyes no longer worked as well as they once did. True to her nature, Arikah would not admit her true feelings about what was happening to her.
After Arikah’s eyesight had deteriorated, her friends and family became increasingly concerned for her welfare. But Arikah never saw it that way. As Arikah continued to stare at the creature in the mirror and reminisce, the only thing she remembered was pity. Everyone in her life had come to pity her, and tried to force her to submit to them, disguising this as offers to help her. To Arikah, pity was anathema. She did not want to be treated differently than anyone else. She was her own person and, if nothing else, in control of her own life. She would not let that slip away. Arikah could not understand the pity that surrounded her and she would not put up with it. The insults, veiled as offers to help, incensed her. Then, one by one, everyone Arikah ever knew abandoned her. Rage swirled inside her every time she thought about how her closest friends and even her family had walked out on her because she was no longer beautiful. This was not how life was supposed to turn out. Abandoned, lost and desperately craving a power fix, Arikah became bitter and the rage continued to grow inside her, eating away at her sanity.
It had never occurred to Arikah that she was the one who drove everyone away. As her body betrayed her, Arikah became fierce about her independence and downright hostile to anyone who offered help. In addition to becoming legally blind, Arikah had become blind to the truth as well. The people in her life could only endure her abuse for so long. Every time they showed the slightest bit of concern for her wellbeing, Arikah lashed out at them. One by one, her friends and family decided they could no longer stand her outbursts. They tired of being berated for caring, for being told they were no longer wanted or needed. In addition, Arikah’s attempts at manipulation through abusive behavior were becoming more and more blatant. Every last one of them gave everything they had until there was nothing left to give. Then they simply stopped coming around. But this is not the past Arikah saw when she looked in the mirror. Arikah only saw her version of the truth – that everyone in her life had abandoned her because she lost her beauty. She did nothing wrong. Arikah did not ask for this change and she did not want it. Arikah refused to accept things as they were and had just drifted through life, her anger and resentment growing inside her, twisting her mind. She had lost everything and was afloat in a vast ocean that stretched from horizon to horizon. That is, until she discovered the magic inside her.
Arikah continued to stare in the mirror, thinking about the past, as she did every morning. It had become an important part of her routine. She studied herself, looking over every feature, as she once did when she was beautiful. Instead of admiring herself and basking in her own beauty, she focused on everything she despised about herself. She brought up memories of her past and those who had done her wrong. Arikah focused on everything that had gone wrong in her life and the unfairness of it all. She allowed the rage to swirl inside her, embracing it. Arikah waited patiently, waiting for what was coming. Eventually, she felt the now familiar sensation, that of magic bubbling up from within the center of the rage. This pleased Arikah. It gave her a rush almost as strong as the one she got from controlling others. The strength of the magic grew as her rage grew. As usual, the magic became sufficiently strong an instant before Arikah was completely overcome by her rage. After years of experience, Arikah had come to know exactly when this would happen. Timing was crucial. When the magic was at full strength, Arikah tore herself away from the mirror and walked into the bedroom. As usual, she dressed quickly. There was work to do today.