Sabia: It was sad, the saddest one of all. I always see inside of them, always. I see their thoughts and their feelings, their past experiences, their hopes. During that moment, when they lock eyes with their own reflection through my surface, I see it all. I feel evasive; I don’t mean to enter into them like that, but it is not an act of my will. As I was saying, this one was the saddest. She came in right after a 53-year-old woman, gaudy, fashionable and confident. As that woman looked at herself in my reflection, I saw a normal, surface level life; she had some ups and downs, but was never really challenged, never really suffered, so she did not have much depth. She seemed perfectly fine enough and I’m sure she’s the kind of woman who smiles and makes small talk with strangers in the line for coffee; she’s a welcomer, makes people feel comfortable and carries on. She was pleasant enough.
This next one, man this next one, nothing could have prepared me for it. I mean-I had no idea what was coming, but even if I did, I still could not have been prepared. I noticed her when she first walked in, a slender girl, somewhere between her late teens and early twenties. Her shoulders were slouched, sort of defeated-looking, but without a trace of bitterness. I didn’t see her face as she walked into the stall. When she walked out, she looked at the line of sinks, the three side by side along the far wall, and the lone sink off to the right, the sink that I reflect. She glanced at the three unified sinks for a brief moment and then turned towards me. She walked over with a slow but rhythmic pace; she stared at the ground, not to watch her feet, but almost as if to make sure she wasn’t stepping on anything that she could hurt. Her steps were delicate and without sound. She turned the left faucet on, hesitated until she saw steam, and submerged both her hands in the water. She let out a soft gasp, I assume because of the temperature, and lifter her head up and back, eyes closed, savoring the sensation. She then turned the left faucet back about half way, turned the right faucet forward and equal amount, put three, swift drops of soap in her hand and washed very efficiently. She shut the water off and shook the droplets off her hands. All the while, she did not look up at me once. I observed her movements, they intrigued me, but I didn’t yet know her. I’m not used to that. The people who stand in front of me usually let me in unknowingly before I even get the chance to observe them.
This one was different.
After shaking her hands out four and a half times, she glanced up. She locked eyes with her self for the briefest, but most focused of moments, put her head down and turned away. She seemed to know; she seemed to know that with that one look I would see into her. I think that’s why she avoided it. She knew she would be exposed. She didn’t want me to see her mind, her heart, her past or future; she definitely didn’t. But she seemed to resign to the fact, and exchanged the gaze as if it were her duty. She looked into my surface, and when she did- I saw myself. I saw a collection of everyone’s pain and everyone’s joy, of everyone’s sorrow and everyone’s laughter. Every experience, good, bad and mediocre, was imprinted on the very fiber of this girl. She carried it all. When she looked at me, I saw such sadness, such solitude. Her eyes were so heavy. Yet, she seemed to humbly accept the weight.
I realized then that the reason she didn’t first look at me, the reason she avoided contact until the very end, was not because she didn’t want to be seen. No, that wasn’t it; she wasn’t hiding. It was because she didn’t want me to be stuck with a vision that couldn’t be unseen. She didn’t want me to have to bare that weight. In the end, I think she ultimately decided to look up out of loneliness. For just a second, she wanted contact with someone who would understand, someone like me. Or maybe, maybe she wanted me to know that I wasn’t alone, that some human out there understood me. I don’t know what the reason is.
I don’t even know if I will remember this girl next week; all my memories are wiped clean at the end of the week, when the man with the washcloth comes in. For all I know, I’ve met her before. That girl though, she doesn’t have a man with a washcloth. I wonder if she ever forgets. It must be exhausting to never be able to forget.