A) Clean the mirror

The only light in the bathroom came from a stark overhead bulb which swung lazily above the woman's head, making harsh shadows in her face which swirled along with the pendulous bulb. She cranked the cold water knob in the sink, ignored the rumbling complaint of the pipes, and splashed water on the mirror with her hands, then streaked one forearm over the dingy glass in an effort to clean it. Close up, all she could see were water spots, but as she leaned back from the mirror she could see a pretty fair reflection of herself through the spots. She held her own gaze for a minute, then shook her head as she looked down at her feet. She hated that damn mirror.

In it her eyes were sunken and colorless. Her dark, usually radiant hair hung limply past her shoulders in dull strands. The unforgiving light made the hollows of her cheeks give her face a gaunt and sickly appearance. Even her shoulders looked unnaturally angular beneath the worn fabric of the Pantera tank which hung from her frame. She pressed her fingers into her lips, to see if the pressure would invigorate blood flow to give them color or fullness. But no, her lips were as wan and unsavory as the rest of her face.

She opened the medicine cabinet so she wouldn't have to look at herself any more, then braced her arms at each edge of the sink to steady herself. This was going to be the worst day of her whole life, but she just had to find a way to get through it. Somehow find a little bit of strength, even if it was a facade. She inhaled slowly and let out a shaky sigh. She felt the sudden and overwhelming urge to cry, as if a blanket of depression had just descended over her, but there were no more tears. Those were long gone.

Instead she trembled at the sink for a while. Reality had become a tenuous thing of late, and her sense of time ebbed and flowed irregularly. Resolve came to her finally, and she was able to focus on the task at hand: getting ready for this horrible day. She pulled the Pantera tank over her head and slipped out of her shorts, left them in a pile near the toilet. She closed the medicine cabinet door, but refused to take another look at herself in the mirror. Instead she took one final steadying breath and reached in to turn on the shower.

The End

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