A fuzzy blackness threatens to consume my field of vision but I fight back, blinking it away because I have to see. I rip the covers off like they’re on fire and the woman startles, clutching her heart with her hand and scanning the room for help. Rubbing at my eyes doesn’t make anything come into focus the way it needs to. I see creamy white legs instead of familiar tan ones. It’s okay though, it’s a trick of the light, the hospital room, medicine. I rub my thighs too hard half thinking this unfamiliar skin will peel away to reveal my own legs.
This isn’t happening. I’m dreaming. I slap at my cheeks and now the woman is up and screaming at the nurse to get help but I can’t hear the sound because I’m pinching at my arms, which I’ve always thought seemed like such a stupid way to see if you’re dreaming but there’s nothing else to do.
And there it is. Delicate strands of silky black hair woven into a braid that has fallen over a shoulder that, looking down at it, is much too narrow. No auburn split ends, no frizz, not even a rubber band, but a Morristown blue and gold ribbon tied at the end in a bow. I don’t have much time because the woman is now standing with the man, pointing and crying and explaining so I yank away cords without a thought and scramble out of the bed, dizzy and unsteady as blood rushes away from where it needs to be. But I need to see my dark eyes fringed with thick lashes that I’m secretly so proud of because I always get asked if they’re fake. I need my messy bun, the scatter of freckles, those two stupid zits I couldn’t cover up this morning, my one crooked tooth on the bottom.
Eyes clenched shut, I grip the cool porcelain sink and it already makes me feel better, more aware and alive and present. I’ll laugh about this later. Maybe I’ll tell Mae if she promises not to make fun of me. I’ll tell my mom that they need to reduce the painkillers, that I’m having side effects. We’ll figure this out. We’ll go home. There are more voices outside. Be brave, Amelia, I think. You are strong, you are you. I lift my chin and open my eyes, staring levelly in the mirror.
One blue eye. Navy around the edges and icy in the middle. The other green. Perfectly clear, pale skin, almost yellow on account of the lights or the shock. Probably both. Rosy lips. Straight teeth. Raven-colored hair.
Not me. Not Amelia.
I squeeze my eyes shut again and try to block out the deafening noise, the thunder of voices flooding under the crack in the door. And in that familiar darkness, I’m me again.
I’m in the midst of some sort of hurricane, a war of hair whipping in a swirl over the curve of a cheek, across a delicate sloped nose, hiding wild eyes.
When I open my mouth to scream, I watch in horror as the girl in the mirror opens her mouth.
I’m not me. I’m not Amelia Fischer. Somehow, I’m the girl in the mirror.