Once upon a time there was a person who only saw themselves in the mirror—even if someone else was passing by in the background, and they certainly never saw the shadows of all the people who had helped them in their life swimming in their eyes. That’s the way it is sometimes—we just don’t see what we don’t want to see.
And every day this person would look into the mirror, adjust their hair or their jewelry or their collar and then go off to work—never seeing anyone besides themselves.
Until one day they fell. The fell hard over a “stupid, goddamn tree trunk root that some goddam someone should have cut or shaved or done something with –goddamn it.” They said a version of this over and over on their way to the hospital.
And because of that they had to be fed by a nurse. And they had to have their bandages changed. And they had to have a cast put on—several. And they had to have a lot of things happen because it had been a nasty fall and they broke both wrists and their right leg.
And because of that they noticed that there was another person also in their room. And this person had a lot of visitors and they, themselves, had none. Their roommate (for they themselves had never had to share a room before with anyone and liked it that way) said to a child that the child should visit the other person in the room. After all, the roommate had so many visitors—they told the person that they could share.
And because of that our person who could not see anyone in the mirror got their cast signed. Well, casts. And they didn’t even know that this was a thing—to get your cast signed—until it happened that this child signed their cast with a heart and wrote “Get better soon!”
The child also said, “You should draw on your cast and fill in all the blank spots.” And so the person started drawing all the names of all the people, all the people who had been in the shadows, but who the person now sort of saw emerging when they looked in the mirror.
The pen the child used to sign the cast was like magic.
Because the roommate shared the pen with the person and the visitors for the roommate all started signing the person’s cast, too. And pretty soon the cast was almost full of signatures and names of the people the person had remembered.
Until finally the cast was full and the person could leave the hospital. The roommate, who had to stay longer, said, “We should keep in touch.”
And the person, who had never kept in touch with anyone, leaving the hospital looked in the mirror on the way out one last time and saw all the people coming out of the shadows.
“Yes, we should,” they said.
And ever since then this person sees other people when they look in the mirror. They have a lot of friends. But their best friend is their roommate from the hospital, who they ended up visiting and taking food to, until the roommate got better.
And since then, the person says “thank you” to the other people in the mirror.
Because everyone has people. But you have to remember them to see them.
BIO: Marie Cartier is a teacher, poet, writer, healer, artist, and scholar. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University; and a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.