I stand up and remove my glasses, placing them carefully on a side table. I walk slowly toward the mirror and lean in close, but not so close that my breath fogs the reflection. I pull my thick hair back away from my face and simply stare, wondering at what I see. The outer, superficial layer greets me first; flat brown eyes, full, pink lips that turn down at the edges, a slightly crooked nose and a slightly crooked eye. My hair is brown as well, as average as color can be. The bangs hang down into my eyes-a little shaggy, a little carelessly maintained. A faint rose color tints the pale bronze of my cheeks and my smooth forehead refuses to wrinkle at the sight of itself.

I stand before this reflection for countless minutes, silently assessing myself. Eventually, reluctantly, I begin to pry apart my shell and look beneath the surface, trying to come to terms with the faint sense of ill that wafts from me. The crooked eye uncontrollably looks off to the right, as if reluctant to allow itself to be straightforward. My other eye remains stoic and maintains its level gaze. Deep amid the black pupil and chocolate-tinged iris, emotions roil like a dark riptide; unseen until one begins to tread the dangerous waters. Shadowy hunger and ever-present pain fight an endless battle with resignation, sadness, depression.

My eyes reveal my insides to a larger degree than the rest of my face. Yes, my lips turn down and tend to forget to smile beyond a mere baring of teeth. Yes, the round softness of my face is made severe by its rigidity. But to those who don't pay attention, these merely show me as angry and aloof, not in the pain and constant torment from my own emotions that I endure. My eyes tell the truth, which is perhaps why I rarely allow anyone the opportunity to search the sludge-filled depths. I believe that I am the only person to truly delve into the swamp of my soul.

How do I feel about my tightly controlled emotions? A trace of apathy. A bitter smile twisted my lips in the mirror and the mixture of emotions on my visage strengthened. I always talk about giving up, giving in, surrendering myself in resignation to the world and everything that threatens to drag people down. But, I believe, in the stoic nature of my face and the enduring, timeless melding of feelings in my heart, that I am too proud to be brought down. I have a survivor's instinct in the end. It always seems that although I want to give up, something digs in with tooth and claws to prevent the lapse in mental strength. In my eyes, you see the struggle. The glow of happiness is a rare visitor these days. Yet still I struggle on to see those few occurances with my teeth-baring smile and rigid face.

I love, and perhaps I love too easily. I remember frequently. The shadows in my eyes are not all pain, but belong to shards of memory. The hunger for love sometimes grows too large to control and I lash out in rage, not knowing how else to vent. Should I howl my frustrations aloud to the world? Probably not. Sometimes, inside, I feel like a beast that longs to do nothing more than roam and savage things, declaring territory and stalking the dark night. I can sense this beast sometimes, and its luminous eyes that peer out of the shadows like the warning beacon from a lighthouse.

My emotions roil ceaselessly and I do not care; I am apathetic. I merely long to set aside this burden and either set myself free, or give the troubles to someone else to handle for a while. A tender shoulder, a comforting pair of arms, an open understanding mind. I can use some of those around here.

I sigh and release my curtain of hair to fall against my rosy cheeks once more. I pick up my delicately thin glasses and settle them over my nearly-blind, mostly useless eyes. I pause in the doorway and look back at the mirror once more. As I flick out the light and leave, twin pinpricks of golden light gleam against the mirror and vanish without a whisper.