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The Mind Mirror

The Mind Mirror

Estimated reading time — 41 minutes

The mind is a complex thing that no one can truly hope to fully understand. You can study it all day long but there are things inside that defy all human logic. In a way we are all prisoners to our own thoughts, and some are hard to escape.

I used to love riding my bike. I got my first one when I was ten and still have it at age seventeen. I rode it most days, basically any chance that I got. There was nothing like pedaling around in the nice weather with a cool breeze blowing in my face. We lived in a large neighborhood, and I always made a big loop completely around it. It would take hours to complete the whole trip, but I preferred to be outdoors rather than inside watching TV. That’s why it was the worst day of my life when my accident happened.

It was the summer after I graduated from high school. I had decided to go to the University of Montana which was over two thousand miles from my home in Virginia. My parents didn’t love me moving so far away but I was really excited. I always wanted to go out west, to see the mountains and scenery that we didn’t have here. I really wanted to soak in as much as I could in the final months I had left though. I loved my home state, and I rode my bike even more than normal over the summer.

The day my accident happened I was riding around the neighborhood as usual. I didn’t have a thought in my head besides how nice the weather was. I was distracted from the road by the many birds that flew over. It never mattered, the few cars that ever drove by were easily visible so I could space out as much as I wanted. I rode all around the far corners of the block and headed towards the entrance. The opening of the neighborhood was next to a pretty good-sized road, and I normally went to where it began and then turned around. I think that day I was living in my own world a little too much. I approached the entrance of the neighborhood and saw a deer off to the right. It was just standing still in the field next to where the houses began. I became completely distracted from what I was doing and even after I heard the sound of a large truck, I still didn’t take my eyes off the deer. A few moments later I felt it. I hadn’t noticed how far I drifted across the street, and I was in the center of the road when the truck hit me. It wasn’t going very fast, faster than the twenty mph that was allowed in my neighborhood but not anything ridiculous. It didn’t feel like that, my bones shook as the truck collided with me. I bounced off the hood and hit hard off the top of the truck onto the right side of the road. I had a sickening pain in my left leg as I soared in the air, but the real problem came when I collided headfirst with the road. I felt intense pain all around my skull before everything went black.

I remember waking up for a moment, lying there flat on my back wondering where I was. The man in the truck who hit me was kneeling by my side and shouting into his cell phone. I tried to focus but I couldn’t. I tried to lift my head up but as I did, I felt a cold surge of liquid on the back of my head and a sharp headache above my eyes. I laid back flat as the substance spread to the side of my head and suddenly felt hot. I realized as I passed out again that it was my blood, and it was absolutely gushing out.

I remember having a very strange dream, I was in total darkness. It was hard to tell I was even dreaming but I was able to walk around, and I could put my hands on what felt like cold walls made out of stone. Even weirder, I could hear voices off in the distance that seemed to be having an argument of some kind. I just walked around in the dark for what felt like ten minutes before the dream began to fade.

When I woke up again, I was in the hospital. It had apparently been seven hours and as my surroundings came into focus, I remembered what had happened. I examined my body for injuries and saw clearly that my left leg was wrapped up and elevated. I assumed it was broken, at least nothing else appeared to be damaged. But as I reached towards my head, I felt bandages and a huge sting of pain. I winced and laid back down flat in the bed. Even though I had only sat up for a moment, my head was absolutely pounding. A nurse rushed over and told me not to move. I laid my head down all the way and closed my eyes. Even having them open was very painful and my brain throbbed worse than I ever could have imagined. I lay flat like that for hours, but I couldn’t fall asleep. I wondered if I was going to be alright and how badly I was hurt. My family came in to visit but I don’t really even remember much from it other than my sister grabbing my hand and my mom in tears lightly rubbing my head. It was strange to see my sister so upset as she was six years younger than me, so we weren’t very close. They left the room after what I assumed was a couple hours, but I have no idea how long it actually was. Once it got dark outside after what felt like days, I was finally able to drift into an uncomfortable sleep. That night I had the most unique dream of my entire life.

It felt like I was waking up, I only ever had that feeling when I was coming to from a night’s rest. It just didn’t feel like any dream I ever had. It wasn’t blurry or distant and my legs didn’t feel like jelly. It literally felt like I was awake, but my leg and head didn’t hurt. The previous dream gave me a similar feeling, but it was so dark I couldn’t really tell what was going on. It was dim again all around me and I still didn’t know what to make of my surroundings, but there was light coming through this time and I could see a few feet in front of me. When I turned to my right, I saw blue light breaking through the darkness revealing that I was in a cave or tunnel of some kind. I followed the blue and stepped out of what I realized was in fact a cave. It was small and sat in the middle of a forest. There was a large flat rock lying to the side as if it was a door of some kind that had been removed. I presumed that the last dream I had was in this same cave, but the door had been closed. As I walked out, I did a 360 and looked up at the treetops. It was unlike any forest I had ever been in. Greener than any normal woods, and the ground was clean and tidy. No branches, leaves, or pine needles which made it clear to me that I was dreaming. I don’t know how to explain the feeling it gave me, but it was just so obvious the forest wasn’t real by the color and cleanness.

I looked down and noticed I was on a path that appeared to lead out of the trees. I followed it for about a hundred feet until it opened up into a big clearing. The first thing that really caught my eye was the grass, it was bright green just like the leaves on the trees. Like the trees, it too was a strange shade, like it was made out of plastic or something. It was so colorful that it felt like I was in a cartoon, it sounds funny but the first thing I thought of was where the Teletubbies lived. The clearing had a big dip in the middle like a bowl and there were flowers that surrounded it. Across from the clearing on a bit of an incline I saw a house. I decided to walk across and check it out as something about it just felt right, like I had previously lived there.

I stepped out off of the path onto the grass and looked up at the sky. It gave me the same feeling as the grass and leaves. Bright and blue with a few clouds that appeared to be the exact same size and shape. The sun looked like someone had drawn it with crayons and had those cartoonish rays coming off of it. As I left the tree line behind, I expected to feel the sun’s heat, but I didn’t. The air felt nice, but the sun didn’t seem to have much power at all. The grass was soft under my feet, and I noticed for the first time I was barefoot. I jumped around a bit soaking in how soft it felt against my skin. It was so green that I almost expected to see paint on the bottom of my feet. After running around some I turned my attention back to the house. I could make out more details now, it was white with a nice front porch and flowers planted in what looked like a garden a little to the side. It was weird because it wasn’t like I had just sat down and laid out my dream home before. But when I saw it, I just knew it was perfect. Like it was in a place in my mind that I never accessed, but it possessed what would be the perfect home specifically for me. I walked down to the bottom of the valley and was surrounded by yellow and red flowers. I began up the hill and approached the front porch and everything about it just felt so ideal. The windows even were perfect, and I saw two comfortable looking chairs sitting on the large front porch. There was a garden on the right side of the porch just like I had thought with some blue and white flowers. I don’t know flowers well, so I wasn’t even sure what kind they were. But like everything else, they just felt right.

“Hey man where you been?” I almost jumped out of my skin as I heard a voice to my left. “Woah sorry didn’t mean to scare you buddy.” I caught my breath and turned to see who had spoken. It was strange, the voice felt so familiar. When I turned my gaze to the left, I wasn’t sure how to react for a moment. I think anyone would have had a similar reaction because unless you’re a twin or looking in a mirror, you could never lay your eyes on such a sight. It was me, except it wasn’t. He looked like me, but if I was much skinnier and had sunken dark eyes. His hair was lighter than my shade of dark brown, and he had a bit of 5 o clock shadow going. I didn’t even know what to say, despite his appearance he did at least look friendly. “Um hi.” I could barely muster a response. “Dude it’s me, your cousin, remember?” As soon as he said it, I felt dumb. I couldn’t quite put my finger on which cousin he was, but I had a lot and there were many I hadn’t seen for years. He did feel familiar and obviously looked like me, so cousin made a lot of sense. “Oh, hey how have you been.” He chuckled to himself some, “I’m good man, I should really be asking you that, after all you’re the one who’s dreaming of me.” It had completely slipped my mind that I was asleep and dreaming, but as soon as he said it everything came back. I was in the hospital, I had hurt my head, and I was asleep right now. As it occurred to me the dream began to slip away, I felt myself going in and out of consciousness. Before I fully woke up, he said one last thing to me. “See you soon pal.”

I blinked my eyes and was back in the hospital with my family surrounding me. I forgot about the dream almost immediately and the next couple of nights I didn’t have any. After another five days passed my family was able to take me home to my relief. They turned my bedroom into my own personal hospital room and brought the TV from the den in so I could watch television in bed. It was going to be awhile until my leg healed, months at least. My head still hurt a lot and I had some sharp headaches, but it seemed to be improving a bit. The only thing that was odd was I had what I would call weird thoughts. I don’t know a better way to put it honestly, I just thought about things, people, and places that I didn’t really care about normally. It was weird but those thoughts didn’t exactly worry me. The ones that did were when my mom brought lunch later than normal, or my sister was talking on the phone too loud in her bedroom. I restrained myself from saying anything, but to my surprise thoughts of harming them crossed my mind. I knew it had to be due to my injury, but it still scared me. I loved my family so much and they hadn’t done anything wrong. But I couldn’t help the thoughts, it was like they weren’t even mine. I worried about it a lot as everything else seemed to be improving. I was able to calm myself down some at least, even though I had those thoughts I could stop myself from saying anything or acting on them. I knew too my head injury was pretty serious. I tried to keep that in mind since it was clearly the reason for the horrible thoughts.

My days were long and boring, and I began to get very restless. A little under a week in the hospital and now a week at home had me wishing for the escape of my bike. Night set in and I was grateful to have gotten past the melancholy of late afternoon. I tried to sit up and wiggle my toes which I could just barely. My head began to pound again so I laid back flat on the mattress. I let out a deep sigh and glanced over at the calendar. It was a Thursday, that didn’t mean anything to me as normally on a Thursday night I’d be out with my friends. A couple had come to visit me, but I didn’t really enjoy it. I was the type who didn’t want anyone’s pity, and besides it just wasn’t fun in general. Sleep came pretty early, and to my surprise I was back in that strange dream from my first night in the hospital.

I stepped outside the cave and walked out of the woods feeling a sense of calm being back in this world. I didn’t realize until that moment just how much I had missed this unique place. It was all the same as it had been the first time and I headed towards the house looking around for my cousin. I looked up again at the copy and paste clouds, and down at the fake looking grass. I felt the strength in my leg and didn’t feel the sharp constant pounding in my head. I looked up at the house and I noticed someone tending the garden. He seemed to realize I was there as he stood up and turned around slowly with a big smile. It was my cousin again which I had guessed, and I regretted not finding out his name from my mom when I was awake. I knew I had met him before, but I couldn’t place where it had actually been. “Hey man where you been?” He yelled across the valley. I decided I was going to be less weird this time and I remembered it was my dream. I clearly wanted him there for some reason so I must have liked him a lot when we were kids or something. “Hey sorry, glad to be back.” He kept smiling as he wiped his hands off and walked over to me. “I understand, I’m sure you’ve been riding that bike a lot right, summer’s definitely the best time for it.” I wondered if he was my cousin how he knew that, but then I felt stupid as it wasn’t like he was my actual cousin. This was my subconscious, and my “cousin” was me. Since I had hurt myself, I clearly was seeking some calm and someone familiar. I guess that’s who this cousin was to me. I tried to remember a specific memory of us together from when we were kids, but I drew a blank. I approached the house, and he walked down to greet me. We reached each other about halfway up the incline.

“Nah man actually I can’t bike right now, I hurt my leg pretty bad.” He didn’t look surprised, “Aw that sucks dude, maybe that’s why you’re here, you need something to take your mind off of it.” That was it, what he said made total sense. “For sure, well what is there to do here.” He smiled, “Oh so much, I got to warn you though it’s all like kid stuff, no TV or anything.” Before I could say I was cool with that he took the words right out of my mouth. “You won’t need it, you kind of feel like a kid again here if that makes sense, like playing tag or looking at flowers is all I need to be happy.” I totally agreed, I didn’t even want to watch TV or play video games. I wanted nothing more than to work on the garden or explore the forest. “I’d be down to work on the garden.” My eyes rose up to the front door of the house. It was black, which really stood out against everything else here. Something about it just felt off too, but I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly.

We tended the lush flowers for what felt like hours. Planting new ones, and watering old ones. I enjoyed it more than anything since I had gotten injured. I was so disappointed when I heard my mom’s voice breaking through the dream. I felt myself go in and out of consciousness. I looked over at my cousin one last time and he wasn’t smiling. He looked sad, but he still uttered the same thing as last time, “See you soon.”

I woke up to mom shaking me with a concerned look on her face. “Are you alright, it’s almost eleven?” I usually woke up at eight so that threw me off a bit. I understood why she was worried as with my head injury I’m sure a potential coma was always on a mother’s mind. The doctors said there was no risk of that anymore, but I understood not exactly counting on that. “Yeah, mom I’m good I was just tired.” I began to feel annoyed at her for some reason. “It’s not like I have anything to do anyway.” She took the hint and nodded before walking away shaking a bit nervously. I’m sure she thought I may never wake up, so it was going to take a minute for her to calm down. When she was almost through the bedroom door, I remembered the dream and called out. “Hey mom, do I have a cousin about my age, looks a lot like me but skinnier?” She stopped and turned around a bit confused. “Um, well there’s your cousin Daniel who’s three years younger, and your cousins Tommy and Rob I think they’re pretty much your age, why do you ask?” “Was just wondering no reason.” I definitely sounded annoyed, so she just half nodded again and then walked away.

I didn’t know which of the three he was, but it had to be one of them. I had some slight memories of each one, but weirdly none of them actually felt like him. Maybe that was just because it was a dream, and everything in a dream is a bit off. More importantly, I just hoped to return to the dream that night. That day was particularly boring as I just watched TV without any enjoyment. I counted the minutes until it hit an acceptable time to go to bed. Time dragged so much, and every member of my family annoyed me to no end. It was unfair, they were just trying to help. But I still hated every minute they were in my room, and they seemed to catch on pretty fast. By dinner time mom just dropped off the food with a half-smile and didn’t even say a word. Once eight hit and bedtime approached, I finally felt bad about how rude I was being to my family. I didn’t get why but I couldn’t stand the sight of them, it was like I suddenly hated them for some inexplicable reason. It was scary too as part of why I sent them away quickly was because I wanted to harm them if they stayed any longer. I closed my eyes and tried to rationalize my feelings. It was so easy to just blame everything on my injury, plus my inability to do anything on my own. That had to be why, there was nothing else it could be.

I kept myself up until nine and then I shut the TV off. I had a hard time falling asleep as due to lack of exercise I never felt that tired. I eventually drifted off, and to my delight I woke up in the cave again. I took my time walking out of the forest really soaking in my surroundings and marveling at the beauty of the trees. I stepped out into the crisp grass and felt the slightly warm embrace of the bright blue sky. I wondered if it was ever cloudy here, but I assumed probably not. I saw my cousin in the garden again, and his face lit up when he noticed me. He jogged down into the middle of the valley and embraced me to my surprise. It caught me off guard, but I didn’t mind at all and I hugged him back. “Welcome back dude I missed you.” “Missed you too bro, so what are we getting up to today.” “Well since you liked the garden, how about we go check out the pond.” He pointed to the left near the edge of the forest, and I saw the idyllic body of water. I hadn’t noticed it before, but it looked absolutely beautiful. “Yeah, sounds good.” We walked over slowly, and I debated whether I should try one of the three cousins’ names, but I decided to be safe and wait and see if he mentioned it. I didn’t want to be rude, and I felt like I should know who he was, since we were clearly so close at one point. We reached the pond and like the sky and the grass the blue of the water looked almost fake. Like picturesque from a painting, a color that nothing in real life could achieve. We looked at it for a few minutes and then walked around its borders admiring the calm water. I felt so at ease staring at it, I didn’t want to be anywhere else. After what felt like twenty minutes of walking around the pond and soaking in its majesty, we decided to head up to the house so I could finally check it out. To my absolute horror, and annoyance, I felt my body beginning to wake up again. I tried to force myself to stay asleep, but I could tell I had no power over it. I looked at my cousin as he also realized that I was waking up. Once again, he simply said, “see you soon.”

I woke up ready to scold whoever had caused me to leave my paradise, but to my surprise I must have just gotten up on my own account. There was no one there, and it was around nine in the morning. I stretched some and thought about my dream. I couldn’t explain it, but it really did feel like my ideal calm happy place. I just felt so at peace there, relaxed and at ease. Nothing in the real world could replace how I felt in my dream world. Mom came in to check on me about five minutes later and put my breakfast on the table next to me. I debated shoving her into the wall as she did. I had to fight against my own body, but I resisted the foreign strong urge to do so. She left the room without saying much and I sat back trying to remember how much I loved my family. For the next six hours no one came into the room except for mom again who just dropped off lunch and only asked if I was alright. My dad came in later and tried to talk but I mostly ignored him, I just wanted to be asleep. It seemed like my head was doing better, but my thoughts contradicted that feeling. I felt like I hated my family, I didn’t of course, but my brain suggested to me that I did. It made me want to sleep even more as rest helps everything and I wanted my head to heal quicker. I really couldn’t take the grim thoughts anymore.

Once the clock hit eight, I calmed down some as knowing sleep was coming soon really put me at ease. Mom had dropped off dinner around seven but didn’t say much. I figured my family was talking about how difficult I was being. I hated the thought of them talking about me in detail without being able to defend myself, but I didn’t really blame them. I knew I had to be so frustrating and I’m sure they wondered what they had done that I was so mad about. I decided to call it a day even earlier, a little before nine. I shut the lights off and laid down on my pillow. I wanted rest, to sleep, to be in that magical place and allow my brain to heal. Thankfully, not only did I fall asleep pretty quick, but I returned to my perfect dream.
I found myself in the cave and with a smile walked down the path approaching the gorgeous green and blue that lay ahead. I noticed for the first time there weren’t any animals in the woods, and there hadn’t been any ducks or fish in the pond. It seemed weird but maybe to me, my perfect oasis didn’t have animals. I certainly didn’t love any so that didn’t sound too farfetched. I always felt like I should but even dogs and cats didn’t do much for me. And maybe on some level the deer being the cause of my accident made me subconsciously have an issue with all animals.

I reached the tree line and with a happy sigh stepped out onto that now familiar grass. I took in a deep breath and let the pleasant air fill my lungs. I closed my eyes and just stood there like that breathing in and out slowly trying to savor every moment I had in this oasis. I hated that I had no control over when I woke up, and I had no idea how much time was actually passing. But maybe that’s what made it so perfect, that it was fleeting and no matter what I did, it wasn’t going to last forever. “Hey, you’re back I was starting to worry.” I smiled before I even opened my eyes as I welcomed my cousin’s voice. He was standing by the garden again and he waved me over. I began to head across the lush field wondering what we were going to do that night. The garden or pond sounded solid but doing something new seemed even better. I just wanted to explore this place, after all on some level I created all of it. I wanted to see every little thing, every blade of grass and every colorful flower.

I reached the front porch after a nice slow walk admiring the clouds. “Hey bud how’s it going?” He greeted me, “good dude, how about you?” I felt so comfortable with him, and I decided I was going to figure out who he was in real life. Clearly, he meant a lot to me, and I felt guilty that I couldn’t even find out which cousin he was. “So, pal what do you want to do today” He put his hand on my shoulder as he spoke. His hands were so boney, I was almost concerned by how skinny he was. “Um I’m not sure, whatever you think.” “Well,” he turned towards the front door, “we could check out the house if you wanted.” I had almost forgotten about the house; it was so easy to get caught up in everything else. Once he said it, I wanted nothing more than to see what the inside looked like. What I in my mind thought the perfect house should be. “Yeah, that sounds great.” He smiled and ushered me up the front steps. I moved out in front of him and examined the black front door. It was larger than a normal door and the black color really stood out against the bright surroundings. As I approached it, I realized there was no handle. “Oh yeah, that door is just for show, it’s actually a really crazy entrance.” He stepped in front of me and pulled on the left side of the door. To my amazement it slid off the frame and he leaned it up against the wall. When I turned back to where the door had been, I saw myself staring back. It took me a moment to figure out that I was looking at a mirror, a door-shaped mirror that sat perfectly where the old door had been.

There still wasn’t a handle on it so I wasn’t any less confused. “Yeah, it’s pretty nuts.” He stepped over to the mirror and stuck his hand towards it. To my shock his arm disappeared through the glass as if it wasn’t even there. “You actually have to step right through the mirror, it’s pretty weird but kind of cool.” I had to agree with that, it felt like a portal or something. “So just like step right through it?” I was still a bit scared I was going to hit my head off the glass. “Yeah, it holds its shape, but you can pass right through it, just step into it like you would a wide-open door.” I nodded and turned back to the glass. It was a really weird feeling to look at myself in a door frame, and I felt a weird sense of dread. I trusted what my cousin had said so I brushed it aside. I took one last deep breath before I put my leg through the glass, and then the rest of my body followed.

It felt like pushing through a foot of water and before I knew it, I was on the inside of the house. It really did feel just like water, but I wasn’t wet at all. I hadn’t even finished marveling about how strange of a sensation it was before I noticed the interior of the house. It was perfect as I suspected, everything laid out the exact way I never knew I always wanted it to be. The living room was to my right facing away from the door, the stairs to the second floor were directly ahead, and the kitchen was to the left. Everything I saw was just like how I would have wanted it. I never once in my life thought about how I would furnish my perfect house, but I knew immediately that this was it. I smiled to myself and turned back to the door waiting for my cousin to join me. I was a bit startled when I saw this side of the mirror door. It didn’t reflect the inside of the house; it was just pitch-black glass. A perfect rectangle of darkness and I wondered why my cousin hadn’t come through it yet. To make things even stranger as I stepped back next to the door, I heard what sounded like him softly crying.

“Um, hey dude, are you coming?” I was really confused so I tried to put my arm through the door, but it just bounced off and I actually hurt my hand a bit. I began to feel that sense of dread again, like before I had entered the house. “I’ve waited so so long for this.” I finally heard my cousin’s voice from behind the door. “What do you mean man?” It was quiet for a moment as I began to register that he was crying tears of joy, not sadness. “You really messed up” I heard him laughing now and I started to become truly scared. “I thought I was never going to get out, you never let me out like the others.” I was so confused but I just waited as he continued to speak. “Locked away and forgotten forever, even Anger gets his time in The Meadow but not me.” He paused for a moment, and I didn’t have any idea what to say. “Well, it’s your turn to be locked away, I’m going to live in our body now and you can watch me from behind that damned door.” I was still confused but, on some level, I was starting to pick up on what was happening. Like a sense I felt in my whole body, I had made a huge mistake coming inside this house.

“I know you’re not going to understand this, but if nothing else I will at least explain it to you. One because I am a part of you, and I do feel as though I owe you some explanation.” He paused again and I heard a faint snicker. “And two because the torture will be worse if you truly grasp what’s happening here.” I was so lost and terrified I just waited for him to give me some clarity, I couldn’t even respond. “I’m a part of you, I always have been, I’ve been in your mind since the day you were born.” He paused again almost to make sure I was listening. “You obviously have emotions, Love, Anger, Sadness, Fear, and Happiness are the main five. But there’s me too, I’m one of those emotions but unlike the others you never let me out. This place isn’t a dream, it’s a state of your mind that you’re never meant to enter. It’s deeper than a dream, where your emotions live. We all have houses here like this one, Sadness is about fifteen miles to the east and Anger is another ten from him. This world we call The Meadow contains our whole existence. In theory all of us are supposed to get our turn spending time in this world your subconscious created. When you’re happy, Happiness can step through his door and spend time in the forest, or by the flowers, or anywhere he chooses until another emotion takes his place. There’s supposed to be a symbiotic relationship between us, we decided that when you were only a few years old. Everyone gets their time in The Meadow so no one misses out, and you can continue being a mentally sound human being. If we all fought to get out, you would lose your mind. The only lie they told me before this world was crafted and we were still in the abyss together, was that I was the only emotion who was never going to get a turn in the sun. They lied, condemned me to this house forever, because they thought if I ever got out that you would become a monster. And you almost seemed to be aware of that too, there were only three times your whole life I was almost allowed out. The first was when your boss told you that you were going to be working weekends for the next two months. You were so mad I’m sure Anger spent the whole day out in The Meadow. For a fleeting moment I felt it, you had thoughts about killing your boss and I was able to get my arm through the door before you calmed yourself down. It was an amazing moment because I realized that maybe I would be free one day. The other two moments were when your girlfriend cheated on you, and when your teacher didn’t let you correct the test you failed, the one that ruined your grade for the whole year. Both times I got arms through again but unfortunately, you didn’t have those thoughts for long enough. My hope began to fade as those were the only moments ever that I almost got out. Then the miracle happened, the best day of my whole life.”


I just listened in awe as he continued. “I was sitting on the couch, half watching the world through your eyes and half just contemplating my existence. But then it was like a hurricane suddenly appeared, and I saw you had been hit by a truck. As you connected with the ground the glass of the door shattered and I saw the sunshine of The Meadow for the first time ever. I almost couldn’t believe it, I finally escaped my prison and got to embrace The Meadow. Unfortunately, all the other emotions experienced the same thing, and we met up with each other. They decided for the betterment of all of us we were going back to our houses, and we’d repair the glass from the inside. They said you were in the cave since we were all outside, so we had to hurry. The broken glass fit together like big puzzle pieces, so it was easy to repair the doors. However, once it’s repaired there isn’t anything we can do to break it. I agreed with the others, but I was never going back. We can’t physically hurt one another or force each other to do anything, so I knew they were powerless to make me.

When they all fixed their glass from the inside I stayed on this porch and did so from the outside. They all became stuck again and I was the only one who remained free. Being outside when I wasn’t supposed to prevented any of them from coming out, even if you wanted to have that emotion. That’s why you’ve been having those thoughts about your family. It’s only me in your mind, as long as I’m outside no one else can be. I knew too the significance of my situation. Since I’m in The Meadow but your honest feelings aren’t what caused it, your brain can sense something is wrong so instead of dreaming you come here. Your mind has a safeguard that you can’t leave the cave, but I moved the rock that blocked the entrance. Your body as well has a defense mechanism when you approach the door to one of the houses. But it seems like I was pretty good at convincing you to trust me. And now you’re going to be stuck in here forever. When you wake up, I’m going to be the one to wake up in your body. You can watch from behind that door the way I have your entire life. You’ll essentially be an emotion now, and I’ll make sure you never leave. It’s only fair after all, that’s what you did to me. I’m going to finally live, and you’re going to have to just sit here and watch.”

He finally stopped and I tried to absorb what he had said. I was so confused but also terror had overcome me. Everything he said was insane, he had to be lying. I had a feeling in my stomach that he wasn’t though. I guess that’s because this is all going on in my own mind, except is it my mind now? Or is it his? If I’m trapped in this place and he takes my body, it’s not really me anymore. I couldn’t imagine being stuck in here forever when he does God knows what with my body. I knew I had to try and reason with him. “I’ll make sure you get your turn outside please don’t leave me, I’m so sorry you were trapped in here.” I waited a moment before my heart sank as I heard him laugh. “It’s too late for any of that, I hate you. I want to truly live and besides, if you did let me out it would mean you were about to do something horrible. I know you’d never actually do that because you’re not that kind of person.” He stopped and waited for a few seconds. “You’re going to be, I’m going to make you never want to return to your body. I’m going to start with your family, you’ll be so ashamed of what I do you’re going to beg me to stay in this house.” I froze when he mentioned my family, I was scared for a moment, but the fear quickly bubbled over into a pure rage. How could he do this, this was my mind. I’m the one who’s in control here. “Let me out, this is my brain you’re just a part of me you can’t do this.” I screamed banging on the black glass. He chuckled again, “You’re right, I couldn’t have done this, you did it yourself and now you’re screwed.” I heard his footsteps fading away as I screamed at him over and over until I sank onto the wood floor with my head in my hands.

I just sat there in tears trying to figure out what to do. I didn’t know if my “cousin” was still around out there, but it didn’t matter either way. I decided to try and find another way out of the house but just as I expected all the windows had closed blinds that wouldn’t open, no matter how hard I pulled on them. There was no basement but there was a second floor with a bedroom and bathroom with windows that were the same as the first floor. I tried to break the glass, but it didn’t budge. It was clear that there was truly no way out, and I went back downstairs to cry some more. After what felt like an hour, I saw the black of the door begin to flicker and for a moment I began to feel some hope again. That all faded when it became clear what I was seeing. The door stopped flickering and I was given a full view of my bedroom. To my absolute terror I realized what was happening, he had woken up in my body. I sat in front of it, eyes wide with fear. Watching him turn what should be my head from side to side and stretching my arms. It felt like a first-person TV screen, the door was showing me the view from behind his eyes. It reminded me of the view you see in a Call of Duty game. I was so scared as to what he was going to do with my body, and to my family. I saw my mom enter the room with breakfast and I screamed over and over trying and get her attention.

Thankfully over the many painful hours of that first day he didn’t do much. He just sat there and flipped through the TV channels about a hundred times. It seemed that he was being pleasant with my family at least. That all changed when they went to bed. I saw through his eyes my clock that said eleven, and after I realized he was just staring at the bedroom door. After another couple of minutes, he struggled up to his feet and I couldn’t even imagine how much damage he was doing to my still very broken leg. He limped out of the room and down the hallway and my heart almost stopped when he entered my little sisters’ room. I began to yell again, trying anyway to get her attention. To warn her that I wasn’t really me. He stood there at the foot of her bed for what felt like hours, just staring at her.

After that painful stretch of time, he went into my parents’ room and did the exact same thing. He finally returned to my room and laid down as the clock read four fifteen. Before he fell asleep, he said something out loud that I knew was for me to hear. “It’s going to be fun to watch them for a while, I’ll wait to kill them until you’ve lost all hope.” With that my view flickered again and the door returned to its previous totally black state. I didn’t know what to do, I just collapsed to the floor and started to tear up again. I couldn’t have ever imagined feeling this powerless, nothing matched how futile and alone I felt. I couldn’t do anything to stop or interact with him, all I could do was watch.

For the next four days it was basically the same routine. It was four days for him but for me it felt like a month. I watched the world from behind what should be my eyes. He did what I had been doing basically, just lying in bed during the day. At night was when it all changed, he walked the halls and stared at my family. On the fourth night he retrieved a large knife from the kitchen and hid it under my mattress. I knew he was close to hurting them, he seemed almost giddy to do so. I didn’t know when he was going to do it, but regardless there was nothing I could do to stop him. I tried the door all day long, but it was like pushing against a granite rock. I tried the windows too but nothing. I looked for literally any way out of that house but there was nothing at all. It was like a pristine prison, no bars, or locks, but no way out just the same.

After he had stashed the knife on the fourth night and the view of my room faded to blackness, I officially gave up any shred of hope I had left. I sat halfway up the stairs and began to wonder if I should try and kill myself. I didn’t know if it would even work, but I couldn’t bear the thought of essentially watching myself kill my family members. My depressed thoughts were broken by a pounding noise on the side of the house next to the door to my absolute shock. Was it him? It had to be, right? Who else could it be in this place? “Hey, I know you’re in there.” It was weird, the voice sounded like my “cousin” and me, but slightly different. It was much more aggressive, and the tone was deeper. “Who’s there” I yelled back approaching the door. “Don’t worry I’m not him, I’m here to help.” I felt slightly better, but still incredibly confused. “Alright well who are you?” I waited impatiently for the response. “I’m your anger, I live in a house just like this one. I came a long way to talk to you, and you need to hear me out.”

I just stood there for a minute trying to decide what to do. It was abundantly clear this world was where my emotions lived, and the only one I had met turned out to be a monster. I could only imagine the kind of things the living embodiment of the emotion anger could be capable of. “Look I know you must be scared but I’m here to help you, we want him back in this house too.” I began to calm down some, but I was still worried. “Alright well what do you want to tell me?” My voice shook much more than I hoped it would. I assumed one way or another he wasn’t going to come in here. If he did, I figured he’d be trapped too. “He’s evil, he’s pure hatred and I don’t know why we ever tried to help him.” That all seemed very clear to me. “He said he’s going to kill my family,” I responded. “Yes well, he’s capable of that for sure, I don’t know if he told you any of this but I’m going to explain what’s going on.” He had told me a lot, but I didn’t know how much of it was actually true, so I just listened. “When we first became aware of our own presence none of us were sure what to do. There were six of us in a totally dark world. All of us trapped inside our own invisible boxes facing each other, only allowed out when you felt something. The first ten years of your life Happiness spent more time outside his box than the rest of us combined. As you got older you filled in this world the way you saw fit. You of course weren’t aware of that, but your experiences and memories created this world, the perfect setting for your emotions to live. We call this place The Meadow and as you aged you experienced a wider range of emotions, so all of us got our fair time in the sun. You have other feelings too like frustration or shame for example, but they’re all microcosms of each of us. We agreed that we wouldn’t try and stop each other from staying out. The pact was that no one would remain outside longer than we were supposed to and risk damaging our whole living space. If anyone was outside when they weren’t supposed to be, you would begin to lose your mind and the others wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. That’s why your accident was the biggest disaster your mind could have experienced. Your injury caused all of our glass to break, and Hate was finally allowed to leave his house. We all had to meet up quickly, if one or more of us are outside when we aren’t supposed to be, you come here instead of dreaming. Normally even if that happens, you’re still safe, trapped in the cave like you were when we were debating what to do. But if the door is moved then you’re susceptible to what ended up occurring. One of us could trap you in their house and then be the one who woke up in your body. The resulting person would be insane, but in very different ways. If Fear had gotten out, you would have turned into someone so paranoid you’d never leave your bedroom. If I got out, you would turn into someone who would beat up another driver for cutting you off. If Sadness got out you would never leave your bed, crying all day long. If Hate got out, like he did, you become a cold and calculated murderer who only wants to make the world a darker place.”

I processed what he was saying as he continued. “That’s why I’m here, he can’t be allowed to destroy everything, you need to get back in control of your body so our symbiotic relationship can resume.” I let everything he had said sink in. My “cousin” or I guess “Hate,” told me most of what Anger said, but there was new information too. I was kind of surprised hate had actually been telling the truth, but I guess he had no reason not to. I was stuck in here either way.

One thing really seemed odd to me, and I had to ask him “How are you here, aren’t all emotions trapped in their house unless the person in control lets them out?” “Well, that’s the thing, no matter what he might try, say, or act like, he’s always angry. The one reality that he can’t get away from is that if he’s in control, I’ll be in The Meadow almost one hundred percent of the time.” That actually did make sense, so I continued to listen to him. “When your accident happened and we met up, we decided we had to go back inside for the betterment of everyone. We all agreed, even Hate. We were so naive to think he would really do it, but we didn’t have much of a choice. On top of everything else he’s the only one of us whose expression isn’t stuck in place, so he can be very convincing. We all had to trap ourselves back in our houses immediately so it wasn’t like someone could watch him to make sure he really did it. Even if one of us did we can’t use force to make him anyway. So, he escaped and now he’s in control of your body. You have to find a way to get him here.”
I had no idea how I could possibly do such a thing. “How do I get him back here if I can’t leave this house?” It was quiet for a few seconds, “I don’t know, but I’m going to tell the others that once you get him here, we’re all going to make sure he goes back inside. We can’t physically touch him, but if we surround him, it will create an invisible barrier that he’ll be stuck in. He won’t be able to get away from you.” I still just shook my head in frustration. “But how, I don’t know how to get him here? I have no idea what to do.” It was quiet for even longer and I assumed he was thinking. “The way he got out in the first place is you hurt your head which broke the glass, you need to find a way to break the glass and then we’ll have a chance to stop him.” I racked my brain trying to think of any way I could break the door. “I can’t damage it in any way, how do I break it?” “Look I have to tell the others while I still can, so you need to figure it out.” I felt so frustrated, I didn’t have any idea what I could do. “Just remember, this is your mind, we’re all living here in your head. If he loses his balance he might fall and knock himself out, maybe even into a coma. Try and find a way to unbalance him that’s all I can suggest.” I absorbed what he said and thought about what I could do. “I trust that you’ll find a way, we’re all counting on you, hopefully I’ll see you again out in The Meadow.” With that I heard his footsteps fading away and I sat down on the steps thinking deeply about my options. Then he yelled one last thing. “If you hurt your head again you may not wake up, you’ll be stuck here until The Meadow decays. But you’ll be able to save your family, I know that matters more to you.” The footsteps continued and then it became dead silent.

I scrambled to think of anything I could possibly do to get out of the house. Like Anger said I needed to think of a way for him to lose his balance. But what could I do? I was in here and didn’t seem to have any control over what happened to my body in the real world. I tried frantically to think of something and began to panic as I knew he had to wake up soon. To my horror the door began to flicker, and it was clear that he was now awake. I freaked out as any minute he could hurt my family.

He didn’t do anything for most of the day, he went through the same routine as normal and after dinner he was still just lying in bed. I was at a loss as to what I could do, but I felt a sense of urgency when night hit. The clock read eight thirty and he reached under the mattress to make sure the knife was still there. I banged on the door screaming but I knew it was dumb and useless. At about eleven he pulled out the knife and placed it on my bedside table. As he did, he slid the clock over to make room for it. Even just that made me mad as I had my clock in a very specific part of my table and everyone in my family knew not to mess with it. To reaffirm all my fears, I heard him speak out loud. “Tonight’s the night, I hope you’re watching in there, this is my body now and I’m never giving it up. Don’t worry, after I do this, I’m going to travel the world. I know that’s something you’ve always dreamed of. I’ll give you that, you can watch me live my new life.” I was frozen, any shred of hope draining from me. He was quiet for a moment before he said one last thing, “That’s more than you’ve ever given me.” He then turned away from the clock and shut the lights off. I tried to yell at him, but I stopped pretty quick, he couldn’t hear me. Right before I totally gave up, I remembered something I had just seen.


When he placed the knife on the table he had to move the clock. It bothered me on a deep level because it’s one of those small things that can set someone off. I turned to the living room and saw the couch and two armchairs that faced the fireplace. I couldn’t leave here, but I could interact and move things that were inside. Everything was laid out the way my subconscious wanted it to be, so what would happen if I moved it? Would it throw off my brain and cause some kind of issue? I was after all still in my own mind and maybe if I caused a dramatic change, it would affect him in the real world. Anger had used the word unbalance, if I moved things out of place that seemed like it would count as at least a metaphorical loss of balance. Either way, it couldn’t hurt. I had to try something, or my family was going to die, and I was never going to be in control of my own body again.

I stood up with a new sense of hope and vigor. I didn’t dare believe it would work, but I was angry and it was a start at least. I hated this entity that was my own hate itself, and I couldn’t let him destroy my life. I began to walk over to the living room and looked over my shoulder to see he was now standing. My left leg was the one that was broken, and when I faced the door, the living room was to the left of me. So that was the side of the house I was going to push everything towards. He reached back over to the table and picked up the knife. I knew I was running out of time, and I shoved the couch as hard as I could. It was heavy and hard to move but I put everything I had into the push, and it finally budged. It slowly slid to the fireplace, and I slid both chairs over next. Just then I noticed for the slightest second, he seemed to stumble some. It could have just been due to my broken leg, but it was enough for me to hope. I went to the kitchen and carried the microwave into the living room and placed it onto the couch, along with all the cups, plates, and silverware. It was funny there were eating utensils as there was no food and I hadn’t felt hungry once. Everything I could get my hands on I grabbed and placed on the far side of the house. I looked back at the door, and he seemed to be tilting over to the left and I realized it was working. I frantically scanned the house for anything else to move, he was clearly off balance but he wasn’t down yet, and he limped out of my bedroom into the hallway. I remembered the bed upstairs and I raced up the steps almost falling in the process. I ran into the bedroom and pulled on the bed as hard as I could, barely able to move it. I had to turn it to the side to shove it through the doorway and then I just pushed it down the steps. It bounced off the front door and laid flat at the bottom of the stairs. From downstairs through the door I heard him say, “Hey what are you doing in there.” I ran down the steps and almost fell again, I saw on the screen the view of my sister sleeping and the knife raised. I put everything I had behind the mattress and in one motion shoved it all the way into the living room slamming it off the couch. All the contents of the house were now on the same side. He was standing over my sister’s bed with the knife about to bring it down on her. As soon as the bed hit the couch though he seemed to finally lose all balance. He looked like he tried to catch himself, but it was no use. He crashed hard headfirst onto the hardwood floor and the glass shattered.

I didn’t even wait a minute before I dove through the front door onto the porch. The glass was broken into six big pieces, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I surveyed The Meadow, and it wasn’t bright and sunny anymore. The sky was gray and there was a light drizzle. I noticed the path to the cave and began walking towards it. I knew he would have to appear in there soon since I was outside of the house. I waited near the entrance of the forest for what felt like hours. I didn’t know how long it would take for him to show up, but I knew he had to.

“Looks like you figured it out.” I heard a voice that sounded like mine and for a moment I thought it was him. But it had come from behind me, and I turned to see who I immediately knew to be the other emotions. All of them had my face, but with minor differences. Anger was the one who spoke, and he basically looked just like me but with squinted eyebrows. Sadness stood beside him with tears in his eyes, Happiness was on his other side with a big grin. Love had warm red cheeks and swayed back and forth slowly. Fear stood a few steps behind the rest looking weary. “Where is he?” I was beginning to worry he wasn’t going to show up. “Don’t worry it took you awhile to show up after you got hurt, he’ll be here. Your body, is likely in the process of going into a coma state.” He turned to Sadness, “go and fix the door before he gets here.” Sadness nodded and walked over towards the house. “We’ll make sure he doesn’t go anywhere but only you can make him go back into the house. You’re probably going to have to do it by force.” I had no problem with that. “Oh, don’t worry I plan to, as soon as he appears in that cave, I’m going to drag him into the house.” Anger looked like he wanted to smile but I had a feeling that was impossible for him.

Sadness returned after a few minutes and the six of us stood there in a line just waiting for Hate to finally appear. After another hour there was a flicker of light in the cave, and finally there he was. That miserable, pathetic hateful part of me just stood there in the darkness. I assume he was looking right at us, but I think he hoped he would wake up and leave before we did anything. That wasn’t going to happen.

I rushed down the path and he looked for somewhere to hide but he wasn’t going to get away from me. I approached the cave, and he raised his fists, but I wasn’t going to be stopped. He swung at me, but I ducked his weak attempt and began to beat him into the ground. With every punch I thought about my family and what he was going to do to them. I thought too about how I caused all this, and I hated him even more for being created by me. After hitting him more times than I could count I grabbed him by the collar and dragged him down the path into the clearing. The whole time he begged and pleaded not to put him back in the house. I didn’t even say a word in response. When I reached the other emotions, they created a circle around us and all of us marched towards the front door. He clawed against the ground, he begged everyone not to put him in there but just like me, none of them said a word. I reached the porch and the others stopped in front of it. I pulled him up to his feet right in front of the newly repaired door. “You’re a monster, and you’re going to be in here forever.” He frantically tried to reason with me. “Please don’t I can’t, I’m only like this because of you” I didn’t feel any mercy, I just despised myself for creating this embodiment of my own hate. Without another word I shoved him through the front door, and he passed back into his prison. I felt a huge sense of relief rush over me as I turned back to the other emotions.

Anger nodded at me in an approving way and the five of them began walking away, back to their respective houses I assumed. I let out a large sigh as the sun began to come out again from behind the dark clouds. I started away from the front porch before I heard Hate’s voice one more time. He wasn’t begging or pleading anymore, he sounded full of rage. “Just remember, any time you feel spiteful, or want someone to die, or hurt that broken head of yours, I’ll be back. You can never truly get rid of me because I’ll always be a part of you, all it’ll take is one mistake.” He started laughing and I debated answering him. There was no point in responding though, it was like arguing with myself.

I was weary, as he was right, I had to be more careful the rest of my life. I remembered too that I had just hit my head again after already sustaining a bad head injury, and like Anger said I may never wake up. That was alright, as long as he couldn’t hurt my family.
I was in The Meadow for a long time before I felt myself coming to thankfully, once again in a hospital bed. I apparently had been unconscious for three weeks and the doctors were worried I was never going to wake up. My family was so relieved I was awake that no one really even asked why I had been in my sister’s room with a knife. When they finally did, I just claimed I couldn’t remember what I was doing but I apologized profusely. They all forgave me, they were just happy I was alright, and I was just happy that I hadn’t hurt any of them.

I’m still in the hospital but hopefully I’m going to be able to go home soon. I haven’t returned to The Meadow since, but I assume Happiness has had a lot of time outside since I have a newfound respect for the life I have. I do hope I never go back there, even though it’s beautiful I know now that it is somewhere I don’t belong. The mind is a complex thing, there’s so much in there we don’t understand. The only thing I can do is try and be as positive and kind as possible. There is a place for sadness and anger, and even fear, but hate is a foul emotion that should be kept locked away from the real world. I have grown to pity him some as I am after all the one who created him. But I still can’t ever let him out, he is evil and will have to watch me live my life without hope of ever leaving that house. I’m going to be careful about not hurting my head again. I’m likely going to have a lot of problems but I’m not too worried about that. I’m just glad to be alive, and hopefully I’ll be able to ride my bike again someday.

I have to admit, despite my positivity I feel different than I used to. It’s like I can feel him in my bones. I try to ignore it but I worry every minute that he’s going to find a way out of that house, or that he already has and is hiding in my brain somewhere. I don’t really know the rules of my own mind, I know what I was told but I don’t know if that all can change. I wonder if my paranoia is due to my injury, or because of him. I forget things, I sometimes question if any of this happened at all or if it’s all because of the injury. I wonder too on the darkest of nights if I’m even me. Maybe I’m still Hate and falling in my sister’s room just made me forget that. Or what if the original me is still stuck in that house, and I’m still in control of his body. Or my body? His body? I can’t figure out who I am or who’s in control anymore. It hurts my head to even think about it.

I do believe that isn’t true, I think I am myself again, I mean I have to be right? But what if trapping me in the house made me become Hate and Hate become me, so I am myself but now we’ve switched roles. The scary part is I don’t think I could ever know for sure. The even scarier part is I still sometimes have thoughts about hurting my family. Who’s to know for sure who or what I really am. I think I lied about being positive because this is actually a living hell. Or maybe it’s not, I just don’t know anymore.

Another week has passed, and the doctors are now telling me my condition is actually getting worse. They say I should be healing but inexplicably I’m not for some reason. My family spends all day by my bedside, and I know they’re really worried about me. I know too that I should appreciate that but truthfully, I kind of wish they were all dead.

Credit: Calvin Levitt

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