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I talk to myself in the mirror. It’s not natural because she replies me. It started when I was nine. I was brushing my teeth in mummy’s bathroom in front of the big, squeaky clean mirror.

I smiled at the mirror. “Myself” did not smile back. She asked, “what are you happy about?”

I screamed and ran out to the sitting room.

“Stop dripping tooth paste foam all over my floor.” Mummy shouted.

“Mummy mummy, there is another me in the mirror. She’s talking to me!”

“Of course, there should be another you when you face the mirror.” I didn’t know what to say or how to explain in my childish mind, so I shut up and that was the start of it.

It’s my wedding day today and my constant companion through the years— the “mirror me” who gave me tips, admonitions and advises all of my life—tells me she has something special to say.

What else could be more special than the times she told me exactly what parts of the curriculum to study for exams or that time when I graduated and she told me what company to apply to and what questions I was to prepare for at the interview. She’s told me what guys to date, I’ve never questioned her. She told me to go after Marcus, that he was the best man for me. I’m marrying Marcus today. I’ve never questioned “myself.” I’ve been a happy child. Why should I question her?

My worst moment was between the age of 12 and 14 when she left. But she came back one night without explanations. I was standing in front of my mirror sobbing and whispering “myself” at the mirror. A boy had broken my heart. I had a big crush on him and bought him a big flowery card and wrote him a poem. The little wretch shredded the card to my face and had a big satisfied grin plastered on. I had almost cried out my eyes, wishing I had “myself” to guide me. She came that night, after I had given up. I just happened to be in the toilet when I caught a glimpse of her smiling in the mirror.  I knew it couldn’t have been me. I was crying. She was smiling. I jumped in joy and asked no questions.

***

“Do you know what I really am?”

I wondered what she meant. She had become so much a part of my normal life that I had given no thought to her being any thing other than “my mirror self” —my alter ego.

“What do you mean?”

She didn’t reply. She stepped out of the mirror, an exact replica of me to the last detail, wearing my wedding gown. My head reeled, goose pimples sprouted on my skin. I wanted to shout, but it got stuck in my throat by some invisible force.

“You made me. I’m a figment of your imagination. I have lived in nothingness, coming to life only at your behest. I have served you. The time has come for me to take back what you have taken, free without questions.”

I couldn’t understand her. The next thing was that I found myself trapped in darkness. I felt for my arms, stomach, my body. They all felt like nothing. I looked up to see my mirror self staring back at me, taking backward steps out of the room. I’m in the mirror now.

“Bye, take my place.” She said laughing. The laughter was the last thing I heard before everything went into oblivion until the next time she faced a mirror.

 

*********

Image by Allen Skyy via Flickr

About the Author:

Portrait - OlayinkaWole Olayinka, a law graduate currently undergoing professional training at the Nigerian Law School, loves to write fiction and hopes to pioneer a new genre of African fiction with his works. For him writing is an adventure

 

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

8 Responses to “Unquestioned Gifts | Olawole Olayinka | An African Story” Subscribe

  1. Ngozi 2016/03/18 at 15:21 #

    WOW!

  2. Tobi Lola Akinseye 2016/03/19 at 10:32 #

    Beautiful

  3. Catherine O 2016/03/20 at 17:02 #

    Nice! Creepy!

  4. Thia 2016/03/21 at 10:13 #

    Awesome

  5. Wole 2016/03/21 at 14:29 #

    Thanks everyone.

  6. L.Han 2016/03/22 at 01:46 #

    Short, precise, creepy, suspense…!

  7. Bukunmi` 2016/03/22 at 05:56 #

    amazing…couldn’t stop reading until the end

  8. omolola 2017/03/21 at 07:23 #

    Nice I enjoy it every time u write a story

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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