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MIRR#12172022 - Reflections

Hello,


I had a bit of an incident the other day that I'm having a hard time understanding. I know it says to "describe what you experienced in detail" on your website, but I just don't really know what happened or if it was even real. This is the best way I could explain it.

Sasha, Candy, and I went for a walk around the pond. This wasn’t anything new; we used to do this every day. But, with the weather turning bitter cold, we stopped going. But today, it broke 40 degrees and I took the day off of work, so I bundled Sasha up and headed out with the stroller in one hand and the leash in the other.

I couldn’t slow my heartbeat all morning. I’ve had this feeling of frustration, or perhaps panic, pounding incessantly, with my eyes feeling like they are bulging out of my head. This has been happening a lot lately.

My family has been unstable, my husband is frustrated with me, my boss has been adding a bunch of ambiguous, and potentially unethical tasks, to my plate. I haven’t slept through the night since before my 31st birthday, over 2.5 months ago, and I haven’t spent time with a friend in equally as long.

All that added up to a bubbling concoction of a short temper, rumbly stomach, tight chest, and bad breath, with tears simmering right below the surface at all times.

So, I took some time off of work. It’s hard to tell if that helped or not. I thought I had tackled it: I crossed half a dozen things off of my list, talked to my therapist, did yoga 4 days in a row…but all of those things just treated the symptoms, while the true issue remained grudgingly out of reach.


The air was crisp, and despite being a bit cool and dreary, was relatively nice as there was no wind.

Hoping the rhythm and old routine would snap me out of the rut, if only for the day, I pushed on. Sasha was content, a few babbles here and there. Candy, while thrilled to be on her walk, must still be feeling my frazzled energy; stopping frequently, tugging on the leash, and overall testing me, as she has been doing for days. She stopped again and it took me a moment to even realize we weren’t moving. Frustrated with her and myself, I look around to see what she’s up to. She’s sniffing urgently at the ground, tracking something.


“Come on, Candy,” I say, pulling on the leash. She ignores me.


“No!” I say, tugging the leash sharply. That usually does the trick, but this time, it doesn’t.


She continues following whatever scent she found, going off the path. I really don’t want to get into a tug-of-war with my dog. Thinking of my husband, Greyson's, remarks if he saw this makes me even more panicked to get control of the situation. I lock the stroller’s wheels and struggle with the leash as Candy pulls me down closer to the water’s edge.


“Dammit, Candy. No!” I shout, reeling the leash in tight in my grasp.


I look down to turn the leash into a slip lead and tighten my hold.


Luminous eyes blink under the surface.


I stumble backwards and put my hands down to catch myself.


When I look back, there are a few bubbles popping at the surface where the eyes had been, but nothing else.


I scan the water furiously.


When nothing shows, my eyes dart around the pond to see if anyone else is there.


Is there anyone who could confirm what I thought I saw? Is there a bike or any sign of another person’s presence-Perhaps, heaven forbid, a kid who might have fallen in? But no, nothing.

It is too cold to be fishing or playing near the water. It’s a weekday, everyone is either at work or in school.

I hold Candy firmly at my side as we return to the stroller. I unlock the wheels and start for home.


Now, my head is filled with new thoughts. I was distracted moments before. Surely, I didn’t see what I thought. The eyes were far too large and human to be a fish, duck, or anything else that would make sense to be in the pond. Maybe it was light reflecting off of something in the depths of the pond? Maybe I truly imagined it.


I return home, scramble some eggs for all of us for lunch and carry on with my day.


But my thoughts are still occupied with the big brown eyes. They were brown, weren’t they? They didn’t look scared or threatening. They looked knowing, or maybe even understanding? How can that be? A moment after seeing them, I convinced myself it wasn’t real, or it was a fishing lure or something. How can I be determining their color and expression now?


Greyson, already fed up with my occupied mind, keeps his distance, which gives me more time to ponder. After Sasha goes to bed, he probes,


“What’s up, today? How are things going?”


“Fine,” I say as if surprised.


I know we both know I’m not myself. It’s been the same for days. Honestly, weeks. Maybe months. But he’s not himself either. Acting like something’s wrong with me. Like I’m mistreating him, or letting my problems ruin our family, when nothing is actually wrong. I know he, well, wishes I would stop dwelling on issues and get over it, but, mostly, I know he wants to help. Wants me to confide in him. But, what am I supposed to say? Day after day, week after week, month after month. I don’t know what’s wrong. Or it’s the same things that have been wrong. Conversations we’ve had 100 times over that I should have resolved or adjusted to.


Besides, all I can think about is those eyes.


Logically I KNOW there were no eyes. I know how it will sound to say it out loud. But, he threw out a life line, breaking the silence. I should take it.


“I was actually thinking about the walk I went on earlier with Sasha and Candy.”


“Oh yeah?” He says. I can’t tell if he’s relieved or aggravated by this response.


“Yeah. I thought I saw something in the water and it kinda startled me!”


“Oh, shit.”


“Yeah, it looked like. Like eyes.”


“Eyes, really? Hmm weird. Like fish eyes?:


“No, not a fish.”


“Then what did they look like?”


After a pause I say, kind of chuckling, “They kinda looked like mine.”


He stares for a beat then cracks up laughing, “Yours?”


I chuckle nervously.


“They probably WERE yours. It was probably your reflection! That’s fucking hilarious!”


I start laughing with earnest now, too. I’m so glad we’re laughing. I haven’t seen him laugh in days. I haven’t laughed in days. My reflection! Oh my god. Could it be that simple? How hilarious! How embarrassing. Wow, of course that’s what it was.


We turn on a show and things almost feel back to normal between us. I smile at him.


But in the pit of my stomach, something still isn’t settled.


Later in bed, my mind replays the moment earlier in the day.


Was it my reflection?


I try to lay still and quiet so I don’t keep Greyson and Candy up.


Were they my eyes?


I'll go back tomorrow and check.


I could ask Greyson to come. He could confirm if he sees what I see, if it could have been what I saw. We could investigate together. Get to the bottom of it. Laugh about it.


But, as the sun starts to come up-if you could say that when it’s still shrouded with clouds, I clam up.

I don’t want Greyson to see what I saw. To know I’m still worrying about something so silly. Something that couldn’t even be. I’m being silly. There’s nothing to DO. This is a me problem. The fact that I’m still thinking about it shows it is a problem. Another problem I don’t need to try to explain or rationalize.


I’ll just go now.


That way, I can get a good look without worrying about Candy or Sasha or ask Greyson.


I can just go quietly alone and be back before they’re even up.


Then I can have a clear mind and the matter can be closed and resolved and I can just whir past it.


I slip out of bed and into some clothes. I go through the garage so I don’t risk Candy barking by opening the front door. I walk down the sidewalk.


15 minutes and this will be behind me and I won’t have this hanging over me anymore.


I’ll be back in bed with my family.


The usual cars on their morning commute, dog walkers, and old ladies out for a walk aren’t out yet.


I start to jog.


Then, as the park and pond come into view, I run.


I come to the place where I struggled with Candy earlier. I look around to make sure a stray walker won’t come upon me and give me a quizzical look, before venturing down to the edge.


I take a deep breath and look down.


It is still a bit dark. The water is dark. It isn’t clear.


I bend closer.


I didn’t see anything unusual yet, but what did I expect? Whatever it was wouldn’t be waiting for me to come back. No. I search a bit longer.


I scrutinize, and examine, and inspect.


Nothing.


My gaze settles on my reflection.


THOSE eyes do look scared. They look lost. They look lonely.


Look at this lonely middle aged woman standing in the cold early morning looking like a lost child. When she has a perfectly loving family in a warm home a few blocks away. I am supposed to have my shit together by now. I am supposed to be with my family. Taking care of them. Not standing here alone looking for problems that aren’t there.


The eyes blink.


I blink. I blink again. Trying to clear my vision and my mind.


What the fuck! I just saw them!


I bend down, almost touching my nose to the water. I know I saw them. Desperately, I gaze into the water. Through the water.


Then, I slip.


The sound of the splash shocks me, takes me out of my thoughts.


I sputter and flail.


My clothes, sodden with ice-cold water begin to weigh me down.


I am right at the edge, I just need to pull myself up!


My feet couldn’t find solid ground, the muddy side of the bank crumbling beneath my shoes. Then it washes over me. I’m going to drown. Oh my god. I’m going to drown.


I open my mouth to yell for help and water rushes in. Down my throat, flooding my nose, stinging my eyes.


“Help,” I whimper, but I am fully submerged now. No sound escapes.


I struggle with my clothes as I sink further, staring up at the surface.


“Help,” I think wildly.


I slam my eyelids shut. “I just need someone to help me,” I think.


I open my eyes.


My eyes stare back.


“I know.” They say.


They aren’t sad, or scared or even angry. Then they close.


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