I open my eyes to Sunday morning sunlight dripping through the windows, collecting on my bedroom’s wooden floor like a pool of honey. Outside, trees sway gently in the breeze, their branches flailing like arms reaching out for one another. A bird glides gently over the crisp, green grass and halts near a bird feeder. This mirage of a perfect summer day is distorted by the frost clinging to the panes, creating splinters of coldness in the glass.
Hoping to fall back asleep, I turn over on my side, burrowing myself in blankets and pillows. I glance over to the other side of the room with the unmade bed and world maps that balance my perfectly pressed sheets and framed photos, all the same distance apart.
A month ago, someone would have been under those messy sheets; beneath those posters. She would have been alive. No, wait, more than alive- living. Her heart would be beating in a body identical to mine, but her mind would be far off, in one of those places she had marked on her maps.
Her absence hits me like it does every morning, every moment when I realize that she is no longer here with me. A thousand rocks are pelted at me at once, burying me in the rubble so that I can’t move; can’t breath; can’t hear. I am swimming in boulders, and it is impairing me.
I turn back towards my own wall.
“Anna,” says a voice from the other side of the room.
I look around because I know that voice, know the way it melts into the air and into my ear. I look around because it sounds like mine. I look around because I haven’t heard it in a month.
There she is, sitting on her messy bed. When I look at her, I look into my own eyes. I see my own rusty hair and my own freckles and my own ears and nose. I see my body and my fingers and my thin eyebrows and my sister and suddenly I can’t take it anymore.
I jump out of my bed and dart into the bathroom. I grab a pair of scissors from the lower left drawer on the sink, and see they are stained with blood. I don’t know why, because there is only one thing I am certain of right now:
I cannot look like myself anymore.
I cannot look like her.
I cannot look like us.
So I chop off big chunks of my hair, and they fall to the ground like the snowflakes on the night she died. I close my eyes and cry right there, in a pile of my hair.
And I know it’s not her. I know it is my mother. I know that if I go back to my room, she won’t be there. She will have left, but she will come back tomorrow.
I know this because she has returned every day for a year.