Olivia sat gazing into her bedroom mirror unable to recognize the cold face that looked back at her. The cinnamon-brown skin, light brown eyes, and long hair were virtually unchanged. But the sadness in this woman’s eyes was more pronounced than ever recalled. She sobbed in terror at the stranger reflected in front of her. Had she sunk so deep, so fast, so long, that she could not recollect her own identity?
Everything that began less than a year earlier had come to an agonizing head that very afternoon. Olivia had lost friendships, her sense of dignity, and the respect of all who knew her. She blamed no one. She could not blame anyone except the reflected monster that shattered the internal girl sitting on the make-up stool, entrenched in a miry pit of transgression.
Olivia was deeply grieved by the death of her friendship with David, and she did not think the pain would ever cease. They had known each other since they were five years old. She had been sad to leave her home, but she could not have found a better landing than next door to the Mitchells. In many ways, she adopted them as her own family, spent nearly every day on their welcoming porch, slept over, took summer vacations with them. And David. He was a better friend than she could have ever imagined. Someone she now felt she never deserved.
David had become a very big part of her life until their last year in high school when everything came to a screeching halt. Caught in her moment of weakness he found her guilty, turned from her in disgrace, and ran. He ran, and it seemed that he had been running away from her ever since. That single moment of innocence lost broke her virtue, crushed her self-worth, and destroyed a brotherly bond built in caring spirit.
Calamity mounted against her plans as her womb grew with the blessing of life. A life she hid from her mother, her lover, and friends. A life she was unprepared to nurture for the sake of her education and aspirations. Olivia was supposed to be going to Birmingham College University. She was supposed to be an architect preparing blueprints and designs for project rejuvenation and corporate parks. What choice did she have but to visit that clinic in the noon of an early September day? What choice did she have but to swallow those pills and agonize as the life inside was snuffed out before meeting its birth?
Olivia’s initial reaction of relief was met with the wonder of the type of monster she had become as despair seeped in hard and fast. Still she repressed the guilt, adorned the mask every day as she went to class, made her grades, spoke to people, ate, slept, and did the regular activities. Inside she viewed it all from a distance, saw everything work perfectly yet knew nothing was truly working. Inside, she was completely broken and disjointed.
And then came Jared. An all too tall, dark, and handsome, all too bright and brilliant athlete, all too last year student who preyed on freshman emotion and foolishness, all too one night stand vanishing act that forgot her name the instant she became another trophy. Olivia spiraled down after him with a descent she would have never envisioned, compromising her integrity to every heart that offered promise. She gave over more and more of her body every time as she became increasingly weak on her defenses. The girl in the mirror was changing. Who or what was reflecting back was no longer the same. She had aged from that innocent teenager filled with ambition and dreams. Olivia tried to listen to the aging reflection, set her mind to remedy herself of constant failures.
And then came Randall. A sweet caring man who bloomed with affection and interest in the personality Olivia held. A calm voice and encouraging word that brought out the precious treasures she possessed within. A man full of promise and potential who initially just would not show her enough of the physical affection that she had become accustomed to. A man she gave her body to countless times, who suddenly became distant and abrupt, uproarious and boastful with his sexual prowess, inviting and eerie with his manner of speech among others. A man who stood guard in the doorway of his dorm room while she futilely fought four of his upper-class friends as they ravaged her body with their hands, their tongues, and taunts.
Her body was violated, her spirit was broken, her heart grew cold as stone. Olivia’s name became synonymous with whoredom to the point of her colleagues prescribing her the nickname “Ho-livia.” Misjudgment after misjudgment followed after her, built walls between her truth and their lies, snapped her feeble friendships with roommates and classmates alike. The girl in the mirror kept aging, kept forecasting the extent of deep sorrow with the weight of shadow in her eyes. Olivia was learning to detest that reflection. Mirrors no longer stood as her heel often found its purpose when smashed through.
Ungentlemanly strangers kept her name rolling off their tongues in her presence, making requests known for appointments or rainchecks. Getting through it all until Christmas was her only hope.
Yet even with chaos of the semester fading, the darkness followed her on this fateful night where whispers flooded in procession of her and bounded to her mother’s mortified ears. A warm embrace of understanding erupted with harsh slanders and misrepresentations. Lies had beaten her truth again and seized her only fortress with relentless destruction.
“I cannot believe that I have raised such a whore!”
“Ma, it’s not true!”
“I don’t want to hear it. You’re an absolute filthy slut! I sent you to that school to get an education! Not to sell yourself with every boy on the entire campus!”
“Ma, I didn’t—”
“I want you out of here today!”
The wind was knocked completely from Olivia’s lungs. “Please Ma. I can’t go back. I was nearly raped—”
“I said today, Olivia! Pack your bags, and get your little fast behind out!”
Olivia sat vulnerable on her make-up stool with expressionless shock on her face, Gucci luggage packed and organized on her bed. She did not know the woman in the mirror. She had sunk to the deepest depths faster than her breath could catch, longer than her lungs could hold, and could no longer maintain any semblance of good character. Who was she, this woman gawking back at her as if she knew the world about her? Olivia slid her shoe from her foot and threw it at the mirror, splintering her into tiny pieces. To the reflection that remained, she finally spoke her truth.
“I hate you!”