I began my life a long time away from the great yellow room, in a much different shape. I am not sure about anything before that. All I know is that suddenly, I was, and ever since, I have always been. 

I grew up in a patch of warm earth where the sun often became hot, and the ground always stayed wet. There, I could feel myself stretch high and tall. I could feel my being spread wide, reaching far, as the sun warmed the top of me, and my edges reached those of my brothers and sisters. I had lived there for some time. I rose from the earth over the course of many suns, at first growing downwards, but then, rapidly upwards as well. 

At first, I felt fragile. I feared every gust of air that rushed past me, terrified I would be pulled from the earth I had made my home. I quivered with the movements of the ground. I felt every tremor on the earth not only with the bottom of myself that I had anchored into it, but all the way up through my entire being, so that every sound felt like a booming echo rocking my existence. The vibrations of men hurrying past me felt like a threat to my life, and every time I felt them coming, I shook with terror. 

As I was warmed by many suns, I began to realize that I was growing stronger. My center grew thick and sturdy, and with every drink I took I could feel myself reaching deeper and deeper into the earth. One sun, I suddenly felt the grip of my sister as she reached out through the earth and greeted me, and, shortly after, I realized I had become entangled with two of my brothers. I felt so peaceful in that embrace, knowing that as we all held on, we ensured each other even more security. Somehow, I knew they felt it too. 

I learned to love the sounds of the men, for I knew it meant they were bringing more water to the earth. I especially loved their laughter, the way I could feel it bouncing through me and my brothers and sisters, the way it would rise from one man but always grew into a chorus, as more and more joined in. The wind, of which I was once so terrified, became my friend, and I reveled in the way it made me sway and dance. 

Many suns passed, and I began to assume that was all there was. But, one sun, the air screeched and clanged with sounds I had never heard before. The men had to raise their voices to shouts to communicate, and their steps pounded the ground with a firmness that declared purpose. My sisters and brothers’ edges rustled into me with the breeze. I could feel our excitement. The air was abuzz with the promise that something was about to happen. 

I stood proud as I felt the men that had watered me my whole life gather at my base. I could sense them reaching over me, around me, appraising me. I beamed with pride, all the way up until the moment I felt my whole being burn as I was ripped from myself. 

The creatures that had rested against me in the places the sun warmed took flight from me, cawing out in disbelief. I tried to reach down and realized I had nothing to reach with. I felt for my siblings, but they were no longer there. I was no longer there. The pain sprouted from my base and pulsed through my entire being. I gave way with a crack, wondering if my brothers and sisters had shuddered at my scream. 

I felt myself being moved, during which I felt the warmth of the sun for just a bit longer, and then I was in the dusty place. I remember everything about the dusty place. I just don’t like to think about it much. 

There, that first pain became a regular occurrence. As I felt myself be broken and pieced back together, shaved and sanded, I realized I was being formed into a new shape. It was horrible, but it didn’t last long. How long, it is hard to say, because the sun didn’t reach the dusty place, but it was not as long as the time I spent tethered to the earth, and not anywhere near as long as the time I would spend in the yellow room. 

I grew accustomed to the pains. None of them were quite like that original, shocking one, and one glorious thing did come to be in the dusty place. After some time, I was fitted with a large piece of glass, and, for the first time, I could see. 

I no longer just felt the things that were happening to me. I could see them, and I could see the things that were happening around me as well. My world was suddenly nuanced with color. I watched the men approach with a long sheet before they wrapped it around me, encased me in packaging, and tucked me carefully into a container shrouded in total darkness. The darkness was brief, and it featured some minor jostling, but my bumps were softened by the care the men had taken to wrap me up, and I was comfortable. I could not see in the darkness, but darkness at that time felt most familiar to me anyways. I felt myself being loaded and unloaded several times, and the final stretch of my journey was the bumpiest of all. Finally, I was set to rest, and my packaging removed. 

I was still not used to seeing, and I tried to feel myself drink in my surroundings the way I used to drink the water from the earth. But the core of my being that had once buzzed with the vibrations of life was now empty and still. As I looked out at the world around me, I felt nothing at all. The nothingness overwhelmed me, filling me with an ache I felt would consume me. I ached all the way down to my newly shaped, hollowed-out core. The room felt cold and the floral pattern that papered its walls looked antiquated in the dim light. I longed for the comfort of the wet earth, for the warmth of the sun, for the laughter of the men and the solidarity of my brothers and sisters. I drowned in the disparity of my newfound sight. I could see, but what did this matter if there was nothing to feel? 

It was in that moment, as I was feeling utterly, and hopelessly alone, that I met her. 

The side of the room opened, and light entered when she did. The woman seemed to float in partway, and then I realized a man was carrying her into the room. He set her carefully on the floor and gestured as if in presentation. I was struck by the softness of her, the gentle way she carried herself, the delicate tresses that cascaded down her back like ribbons of silk. The woman gasped with delight. I watched her face widen at each side in a clear expression of joy. The happiness glittered over her features, creasing them as it went, radiating out of her and through her until I was looking about the room, searching, needing to know what it was, what it could possibly be that she saw that had brought her such unadulterated jubilation. And then, I realized it was me. 

I felt a surge of feeling, a rush of emotion I had never felt before. In that first moment, I knew that she loved me. I could see it, and I felt something deep within me without feeling anything outwardly at all. I knew then what it was like to be loved, and I loved her for it. She turned and embraced the man before approaching me, tracing her fingers delicately over my smoothed surface. She moved differently than the men I had seen at the dusty place, differently even than the man who had entered the room with her. She carried herself with a grace I had never encountered. She emitted elegance, and under her gaze, I suddenly felt elegant as well. 

It was then, though she would go on to give me many gifts, that she turned and gave me her greatest gift of all. She moved towards the walls, pulled back some coverings, and suddenly, even more light flooded the room, reaching over my being in a glorious burst. As the light settled over me, the colors around me brightened. I was blanketed slowly in a muted, familiar warmth. I felt a surge of feeling again, both inside and out, as I comprehended that, beneath my new layers of polish and lacquer, I could still feel after all. I considered what it was that I was seeing, and I realized with even more surges of feeling what it was that I saw. She had given me back a part of myself, my home, my sun. It felt such a beautiful thing to both see and to feel, and to feel because I could see, I could not believe I had even for a moment been ungrateful for this gift. 

I knew then, in that moment, that I would adore her forever, and it was in that moment I believed, for the first time, I could content myself with my new existence. She went on to adorn me, laying glittering objects on top of me and tucking papers where the edges of my being met my glass. She revealed to me that my emptied-out parts were meant to be used as pockets, and she stored her treasures within me. The woman would visit me often, but she made a habit of religiously sitting before me when each sun began and when each sun ended. I learned the patterns of her speech and face, and I existed for her gaze. 

Though I loved the feel of the sun, the way its light would rest over me for hours, I began to find myself looking forward to the times it came and went, because at these, I could depend on her attention. But, most of all, I looked forward to those unpredictable ends of the sun when she would sit before me sooner than usual, just before the light faded away, and care for her face, model and change her various coverings. The man would come in when she was almost finished looking at me, and this was always bittersweet, for though I knew it meant our time for a little while would be coming to an end, I always felt myself surge with feelings of love as I watched her twirl around for him. I could see her love spread over him, too, in the way it widened across his face, in the way he seemed compelled to pull her in for an embrace. 

After many suns, I noticed her looking at me more than usual. She would twist and turn before me, sometimes calling over the man to see. I watched them gaze at each other knowingly, and something about their movements became laced with more intention. I felt a buzz from them, that, though different, reminded me somehow of the excitement of my brothers and sisters so many suns ago. We were waiting for something. 

Many more suns passed, and I noticed the woman began to grow and swell at her center. It was interesting to watch, having felt growth but never seen it, and I felt happy for her, for I remembered how strong I had felt once I had grown. The woman’s habits of visiting me grew closer and closer together- from every sun, to four times a sun, until I lost count. Sometimes the man would come over and look at me with her. I could tell that the time for whatever was to happen was drawing near. 

One sun, everything changed again. The woman got up from her rest with a start. She woke the man and did not even bother to look at me. They rushed out of the yellow room and did not return for several suns. They were not gone for a long time for me, but I had grown accustomed to their habits and this was a long time for them. 

When they returned, the woman did stand before me and look at me, for a very long time. Her center had lost some thickness, and I worried for her, for I knew what it was like to lose parts of yourself. But she was still her, and she had not been changed in the ways that I had. I was elated for her arrival, to have her see me again. The man came to where she stood and embraced her. He seemed to offer her assurance. She stood with him, looking back at me. After he left, she stayed there, standing before me. She looked deep in thought, but no joy spread over her face. 

Her habits were suddenly irregular. I could no longer depend on her visits at the beginning and end of the sun. She would frequently get up from her rest, and then lay down at odd times after the sun’s arrival. At first, she would remember to look at me in spurts, her face expectant and hopeful. But she visited me less and less. I became completely shrouded, at times, with her coverings and those of the man’s, to the point where I could no longer see. Suns would pass without her seeing me, and then, suddenly, she would shove some of the coverings out of the way, not even bothering to completely remove them, and she would hurriedly glance at me before rushing off somewhere else. 

As the suns passed, I noticed her expressions growing more and more displeased. When she did have the time, she would stand before me, and I watched the happiness fade from her eyes. It used to wash over me, so plentiful I could bathe myself in it, but now it was like I sucked it out of her, leaving her drained. 

With this realization, I felt gutted in a way that was deeper than the disembowelment I had suffered at the dusty place. Perhaps she had somehow gained knowledge of the things they had done to me there. I felt so ashamed. I missed the time we used to spend at the beginning of the sun, as the light edged its way through the walls and the man still rested nearby. I missed her so much. 

Suns came and went. I began noticing some disturbance outside of the room, some force that rocked the walls and sent the man and woman flying out of the room at a sprint. I longed for the quiet, for that nothingness that I had thought would destroy me when I had arrived many suns before. 

The sun’s light had already begun to fade when the woman unexpectedly came in and carefully removed all the coverings she had draped over me. She sat down before me, and really, truly, looked at me, for the first time in hundreds of suns. Her face spread halfheartedly. I had felt so deprived, I wondered at even this level of attention. But, her focus was quickly diverted. 

I realized that another being had entered the room. A much smaller, much less graceful version of herself. A little girl. She seemed to greet the woman before sitting herself on the place where the woman rests. The woman looked back to me, and she began to care for her face. I was so completely intoxicated with my need for things to be the way that they were, so completely intoxicated with the fact that the woman was sitting before me in any way that resembled the habits she had once held, that I did not take much notice of the little girl at all at first. I did not notice the little girl get up from the woman’s place of rest and inch closer and closer. I did not notice until she was almost completely in the woman’s lap, her gaze as focused on the woman’s movements as I have always felt mine must appear. 

The little girl looked at me, and as she saw me I watched her entire being become overwhelmed with joy. She threw back her head and echoed out peals of laughter, the vibrations of her voice creating a chorus all on its own, strong enough that I could feel it through all my finishings and stains. The little girl reached down and picked up one of the tools the woman used to care for her face. She brought it to her own, I realized, in perfect pantomime of the woman herself. I felt a rush of feelings within myself- pride and love and hope all at once. I watched the little girl look at me and see me in a way I had not been seen for a disparaging number of suns. The ring of her laugh had brought a life back into me I hadn’t even realized was so in danger of being snuffed out. I watched as the woman looked at her, and something strange happened. I realized the woman cared deeply, desperately, about what this little girl thought when she saw me, too. 

And that was when I saw it. I saw it, and then I felt it. The woman’s love was radiating from her once more, down, through her gaze, into this little girl, and out. I saw her see her, and love her, and I loved her for it. Perhaps it is a curse to see, for I never cared to be seen before. But perhaps this little girl will continue to like what she sees when she looks at me. 

March 02, 2024 04:33

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Kayla Clark
05:02 Mar 07, 2024

This was such an emotional story! Reading from the vanity’s perspective was surprisingly tender, and at times it almost felt surreal and dreamlike, the way time passes and experiencing its origins through sounds and sensations rather than sight. Although the journey was bittersweet, seeing how its world grew bigger and its feelings more complex was emotionally satisfying. One line that really hit hard was, “The ring of her laugh had brought a life back into me I hadn’t even realized was so in danger of being snuffed out.” Beautifully done!


Audrey McKenna
17:48 Mar 07, 2024

Thank you Kayla!!


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Trey Calcinore
05:39 Mar 02, 2024

Love the depth and the entendre with the title was beautifully subtle


Audrey McKenna
02:21 Mar 07, 2024

That’s exactly what I was going for, thank you so much!!


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