What's Wrong with these Mirrors?

图片取自 Savannah Book Festival


  Alice had been up alone for couple of hours. In that early morning solitude, she drank green tea, read a little, and practiced yoga outside on the lawn. Posed in downward dog, she filled her lungs with the delicious ocean air and luxuriated in the strange, almost painful pleasure of the stretch in her hamstrings and glutes. Out of the corner of her eye, she observed her left triceps engaged in holding her body in this position. Solid, sculpted, beautiful. Her whole body looked strong and beautiful.

  She was in the best physical shape of her life. Good food plus daily exercise equaled the strength in her flexed triceps muscles, the flexibility in her hips, her strong calves, and easy breathing during a four-mile run. Then, of course, there was her mind. Unresponsive, disobedient, weakening.

  She took Aricept, Namenda, the mystery Amylix trial pill, Lipitor, vitamins C and E, and baby aspirin. She consumed additional antioxidants in the form of blueberries, red wine, and dark chocolate. She drank green tea. She tried ginkgo biloba. She meditated and played Numero. She brushed her teeth with her left, nondominant hand. She slept when she was tired. Yet none of these efforts seemed to add up to visible, measureable results. Maybe her cognitive capabilities would noticeably worsen if she subtracted the exercise, the Aricept, or the blueberries. Maybe unopposed, her dementia would run amok. Maybe. But maybe all these things did't affect anything. She couldn't know, unless she went off her meds, eliminated chocolate and wine, and sat on her ass for the next month. This was not experiment she was willing to conduct.

(August 2004)


  She sat on the floor in front of the full-length mirror in the bedroom she slept in and examined her reflection. The girl in the mirror had sunken, darkened circles under her eyes. Her skin looked loose and spotty all over and wrinkled at the corners of her eyes and along her forehead. Her thick, scraggly eyebrows needed to be tweezed. Her curly hair was mostly block, but it was also noticeably gray. The girl in the mirror looked ugly and old.

  She ran her fingers over her cheeks and forehead, feeling her face on her fingers and her fingers on her face. That can't be me. What's wrong with my face? The girl in the mirror sickened her.

  She found the bathroom and flicked on the light. She met the same image in the mirror over the sink. There were her golden brown eyes, her serious nose, her hear-shaped lips, but everything else, the composition around her features, was grotesquely wrong. She ran her fingers over the smooth, cool glass. What's wrong with these mirrors?

  The bathroom didn't smell right either. Two shinny, white step stools, a brush, and a bucket sat on sheets of newspaper on the floor behind her. She squatted down and breathed in through her serious nose. She pried the lid off the bucket, dipped the brush in, and watched creamy white paint dribble down.

  She started with ones she knew were defective, the one in the bathroom and the one in the bedroom she slept in. She found four more before she was finished and painted them all white.

(Summer 2005)

Still Alice
Lisa Genova
ISBN 978-1-4391-0281-7

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