Pull the sheets over your head every time your alarm goes off. Stretch your legs and curl your toes around the sheets that shield you. Open the sheets and feel the cool artificial air tickle your nose. Pull open the drawers that lay beneath your bed and choose what you want to cover your body today. A hoodie stained with the pasta sauce of last night. A t-shirt emblazoned with your high school mascot. Worn socks or wool socks. Leave your pajama shorts on. They won’t see your bottom half. Don’t bother making that bed because you’ll just get back in after class.
Pull the chair out from under your desk. The cold plastic makes the skin of your thighs tingle and sting. Pull your laptop out of the backpack you brought but never use. Unzip the bag that holds the metal near and dear. Type the password you’ve used since you were thirteen and open the camera application. A set of cheap plastic drawers is nestled in the corner of the desk space.
Pull the smaller drawers open. Let your fingers feel around the variety of tubes and columns that lie waiting for your grasp. Pull out the expensive mascara and the cheap drugstore concealer you shamefully bought from the CVS by your house. Slap the concealer under your eyes and over your chin and over a pimple and over the purple eye veins and over the faint freckles. Use your fingers to rub it in until it looks “natural”. Hope it makes you look more appealing, more alive. Paint your eyes with mascara and watch as the black smudges under your eyes every time you blink. Wipe it away. Blink. Wipe it away. Blink. The black nestles in the creases below your eyes, unwilling to ever budge.
Pull out the papers and the books and the practice problems. Did you do the homework or did you fall asleep early again? Listen to a classmate talk about the symbolism of something. Unmute and say a few words to make it seem like you’re interested. Stare at the screen and hope something comes out of it to put you out of your misery. Hope for a power outage across campus. Hope the wifi collapses so you won’t have to stare at your face for hours on end.
Don’t turn your camera off or you're not paying attention. They don’t care that your reflection is torturing you. Try again to cover up the darkness under your eyes with concealer. Pinch your cheeks to give them some color. Stare at your reflection on the screen. Mess with your hair. Pick at your shirt. Straighten your back only to slouch a few seconds later. Move your eyes to the teacher and then back to yourself. Move your eyes to your classmate that’s speaking then back at yourself.
Pull the sheets over the pillows. Pull the drawers out and stuff everything inside. Pick at your skin. Stare at yourself. Pick at your fingernails. Scratch your leg. Stare at yourself. Rub your nose. Pull your shoulders back and stand up straight.
You’ve gained weight. The jeans you put on last week felt tighter than you remember. Don’t stare at your legs. Don’t think about how others see your stomach. Pull the mirror off the wall and put it under your bed. It’s better if you don’t know. You don’t need to know what your body looks like. Do you even know what your body looks like anymore? Why do they make you stare at yourself?
Your eyes fall to the screen that sits idly in front of you, sitting so innocently, sitting and waiting for you to take action. It’s waiting for you to do something. Do something. What if you pull your hair out and punch your reflection? Slam the computer closed? Pull the computer off the desk and throw it against the wall? Watch it shatter and bend and break? Watch it hit the floor with a thud? Then, You wouldn’t have to stare at yourself anymore. Yet the shadows of your face would still haunt you, wouldn't they? The thoughts would still be there. Let your eyes wander back to your screen. Your class is still there, not bothered at all by your thoughts. Unmute yourself and ask a question.
About the Author: Lily Price is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. She hails from Smyrna, GA. In her free time, she enjoys going to the movie theater and spending time with her dog.