The loss of self-control is the loss of personality. The mirror reflects the truth but mine only shows lies. I am twenty-eight years old and I have moved seventy-three times during these years.
It all began when I was four, and my first placement was an institution for mentally unbalanced children. The time before that first move is white, but I insist that I never was insane. No, my solution for this particular placement was in the mentality of my parents. They, they must have been crazy.
The institution gave me little in the ways of teaching but it enhanced a sense of detachment. I remember occupying pale-coloured corners, observing the general nurse, whose focus was not on the other lost children but on the soap in her little telly box by her desk. And then I remember calm voices, which I can still sometimes hear in the state between sleep and awake. They have carved their sounds deep into my mind, scratched the surfaces of my eardrums.
Moving from institution to a home with a new set of parents I can recall the smell of baking on a Sunday. My following move was from kindergarten to school, and then reaching further levels and changing parts of the building, each time settling in only to soon move out again. I became the target for local kids which resulted in moving schools all together.
When I was sixteen I left my foster parents to study in a town two hours away. I visited at first, of course, and kept contact with my old friends. But aging acquaintances took their toll on me and as the friendship and parental dramas expanded I found other friends closer to my new home, and they came to replace the old ones. I found new mother and father figures, so I left the previous behind with my old life. I came to metamorphose into a new me, the change developing in my cocoon of observation reaching for conversation. It was exciting and fresh, my new companions smelling of flowers, my lovers pouring life juice which I sucked like a vampire, becoming their lives and adapting a personality I had not known was in me.
But then I came to the comfortable state where my metamorphosis reached its completion and I looked into the mirror where I only saw lies. My cocoon lay in pieces around me and I found myself bored with these people I had come to call parents and friends. And soon enough the drama took root and my attention drew to the map, where I had drawn lines across the country.
I moved again, using my old personality to grow a new one and enter the safety of my butterfly chrysalis again. But it was burst open when I found these new friends immediately cheating and that the drama, instead of breaking between them, targeted me. I left within months of moving to the place.
I stayed in my next location for over three years, but even here moved eight times between houses. The people remained the same, and this repeating metamorphosis created a weakness in me. I came to solve dramas between friends the best I could, I came to let myself cry when I was hurt, I came to recognize the pain and take myself through it. This was the strongest and certainly the strangest period of my life. It even took me to write a postcard to my foster parents, not leaving a return address. On a specific New Years Eve I rang my oldest friend, only to find that she didn’t recognize my voice. She remembered me after a while of convincing and said that everybody thought I had been murdered or abducted. ‘By aliens you mean?’ I asked, but she didn’t appreciate the joke.
I found that rooting for so long in the same tarmac dirt caused my latest personality to become predictable and I felt the need to fly. I signed up for another school, bored with the degree I had already achieved and bored with the whole place all together. I kissed my friends goodbye, remembering everything we had been through so that I could casually forget them. I promised to keep in touch and visit which was another well-worn lie, and one that I had told often before and had no plans to stop telling.
My new cocoon was rotten but moving around buildings I found a place to settle and observe, and yes, soon enough the cattle came and my new ‘me’ developed, re-incarnating my lies and thoughts and lives. It was here my first sense of despair whispered in that damned mirror, that first devastation of not having a true self and only being matter, putty clay to be formed by my mind’s fists that were rough from years of experience. The mirror had always told me lies but this time I didn’t know which one was lying, the mirror or me. I had to move again.
Getting emotionally attached was not something any of my previous personalities recommended but I thought it would be worth a try. I then was engaged to a gentleman of fine social status and a considerable amount of money. Financial stability was unknown to me, I had been used to sleeping on the floors of the people I had pestered long enough to be my friends and living off scraps until any meaningless job had popped up with a ‘Welcome to the Business’ note.
I attended important festivities and met with important people, behaving properly where required and most improperly where receptive. It was all very exciting, the most interesting role that I had played so far. In fact, it was so interesting I found myself planning means of destroying it.
Breaking someone else’s heart was easy considering how used I was to crushing my own, leaving bloody streaks on my hands and my mirror image shouting: Lies! Lies! Lies!
The only thing I left behind in that place was mirror shards on the floorboards.
My bag was dragging on the bus station floor leaving a trail of scum and pieces of my soul. I found that I was already over twenty years old and I could not remember my foster parents’ names. The baggage was stored in the compartment underneath the bus, on top of the wheel, vibrating into pus of recollection while the shell of me was sat inside the warm vehicle staring at the rain dragging over the windows. It was here another sense of desperation enclosed me, and I missed my old friends, from each place I had lived. With an aching heart and deprived presence I suddenly realized that I was crying like child and that the cold would not go away.
I took myself to a hospital as my lungs had appeared to have stopped filling with air when I inhaled, and there were black spots covering my eyes. I was forced to give them my original identity, the identity of a girl (and not a woman) I no longer knew and I no longer remembered but for a name. The doctor looked at my records and I knew she considered another mental institution, which I personally would not have minded. I could create life everywhere and when I was done I could leave. An institution was where this ability was born and that could be where it would die, as I would die by my last damnation of the mirror. Lies, Lies, Lies.
But the doctor said nothing of the place, and mentioned only anxiety and stress reducing methods. Her voice was calm but not like from my childhood. When a child grows up, the calm voices fade. So heaven had to wait.
I walked out the disinfected building feeling immensely dirty and lost and couldn’t recognize where I was. I usually took this as a good sign as I had no wishes to return to any past places or any past lives. But now it took a hold of me and I saw only mirrors everywhere, reflecting my lies telling me that I had lied so much that there never shall be a truth again. That I, on my own, had managed to ruin the course of the universe and I had to punish myself for it.
I paid a lot of money to leave that location as quickly as possible.
I settled into another cocoon with another gentleman and left after he had rejected me. Drama and human relationships had turned fierce now and I left with a black eye.
Next place was good.
Next was not.
And thus I lived my life, until now when I halt at yet another city. This bus station seems familiar though I am… pretty sure I have not visited it before. After travelling the connecting stations become hazy and fade, like the voices of my childhood. It is only in that state between sleep and real that I find excitement within these places again.
But awake it offers me little satisfaction and colossal paranoia. It seems like the travelling and resetting cocoon has become dramatized and I feel I need to be alone but cannot proceed with solitude.
I have forgotten my name and previous purposes but I know that now I have no purpose. I lie and lie and counterfeit personalities. I could write a million stories. Yet on these journeys I have never maintained a journal, no means of proof to confirm that these lives took place outside of my head. And I have forgotten cities, names, lives. I look at the timetables and it seems that I have visited every single location it displays. I can’t remember so I can’t decide where to connect and set up another cocoon. My wings are withered and I must be reborn but the final shell of what is me might not survive another metamorphosis. I observe parted lovers reuniting, there are flowers wrapped in shiny paper and great embraces.
My cheeks heat up, and my throat is ensnared. The journey is over, the travelling complete and what have I learned – only to forget?
I rush to the ladies’ and vomit heavily into the sink. Nobody gives me second glance; I must look like such a mess they would consider this behaviour frequent in my life. Perhaps it is, I no longer know.
I look into the mirror I don’t see lies or a shell. I can’t see myself. The person staring back at me has the wrong hair colour, surely? But she mimics my gestures and facial expressions. She is not me. So is the truth restored then, now when the lies are gone and been replaced by another canvas? But this is not an empty canvas for me to paint and create on. This one has already been finished and not by me.
I see myself shoving my clenched fists into the mirror and it breaks making the most awful sound and the shards cut into my wrists, searching for my veins where they would sink in and devour me whole, our deadly sexual act would be complete and the lie would be absolute.
But I look again and the mirror is whole; my arm immobile by my side. I’m not even bleeding where my teeth had sunk into my lips. There is no wound in me. But I feel like a black hole. And then I collapse.
My head throbs but I don’t think I’m seriously hurt. I keep my eyes shut, they feel swollen from crying. I must look like such a mess.
The voice is slightly familiar and I recognize that name from somewhere. It echoes far away, but doesn’t settle anywhere in my memory. It jumps from place to place bouncing off possible links to the verge of confusion.
I force my eyes to open and I see a woman of my age. There are a thousand names in my mind, shouting together but none of them are right.
‘Marianne?’ the woman repeats.
I sit up and look around and realize that I am where they call home, the first city that I left when I was sixteen.
‘I don’t know,” I tell this familiar stranger. ‘I could have been Marianne at some point. The loss of self-control is the loss of personality. And I don’t believe I ever had self-control. No, I don’t think so.’
‘Perhaps the aliens kept it?’
The woman smiles at me. I’m sure that I know her; I recognize her scent.
‘Perhaps,’ I say, and the throbbing in my head subsides.