You, Me, We | Elise Oliver

The unnatural silence in the middle of the night, the vacant look on a loved one’s face.

That’s me.


You, Me, We

By Elise Oliver

The Scene of the Unseen Obscene Award


There are things that go bump in the night in every town. Fremantle to New York, London to Milan there are things, horrible things, that pool and ripple beneath the surface of your waking dreams. You know what I’m talking about. That icy hand that squeezes your skull as you bolt awake mid scream, body trembling, eyes bulging, heart ripping through your chest. The unnatural silence in the middle of the night, the vacant look on a loved one’s face.

That’s me.

I’m the doubt that seeps into the edges of your brain when you look at yourself in the mirror. I’m the scoff, the scowl, the look, that your colleagues give you when you walk into the office. That little voice telling you that maybe you should have stayed in bed, maybe you shouldn’t have gone outside full stop.

I know what you’re thinking, how could I be real? Aren’t I just your subconscious working in over time to make you feel worthless?

Not quite.

You know that feeling you get when you walk down a quiet corridor, the feeling like someone is following you? Or when you catch something moving in the mirror out of the corner of your eye but it turns out to be nothing? What about that lance of fear that streaks up your spine when your foot is hanging over the edge of the bed just a little too far?

That’d be me.

I’d be willing to bet you’ve never seen me before… but I’ve seen you. I’ve seen the struggle, I’ve seen the doubt, the fear, the hate. I’ve seen it all, I’ve heard it all, I’ve been the catalyst for it all, hell I am it all.

Here’s the kicker though, you know that crippling dread, the catatonic fear, the overwhelming sense of disregard and worthlessness? I grapple with that too. Like a mist that slowly spreads over the lake and slides into the crevasses between every grain of sand, I suffer with it too. And so I hide. I hide… in you. See, all I’ve ever wanted was acceptance. A little bit of recognition, someone to touch this mangled hand of mine and tell me it’s okay, that I’m not alone. I want to be loved, to be adored, to be noticed.

You think you’re the only one that looks in the mirror and sees an overweight, underweight, ugly, unnatural, horrifying monster staring back at you? The difference is, your monster isn’t real. That monster you see? Those sunken eyes, those gnarled claws, the broken teeth and the blistered personality.

That’s me.

That’s my life.

That’s my whole life.

Can you imagine? Can you imagine being so utterly disgusting, so universally hated? Can you imagine what it feels like to have people from all around the world tell you, “You aren’t real!” Tell you to “Shut up!” daily, hourly, minutely… every second, of every day, of every week for the rest of your life. I know why you yell. I know why you scream at me but you don’t know why I fight back, you don’t know why I push you so hard. You don’t know why I sit at the edge of your vision when you finish in the shower forcing you to look down in disdain, why I grip your soul and force you to notice those spots, those extra few pounds, that weird bump on your chin.

You don’t know. You only know how I make you feel. You only know the anger that I raise in you. You only know the frustration and the conflict that battles between us. You don’t know how lonely it is, how terrifying it is on the other side of the mirror where I stare back at you, where I hide. Where I see your beautiful face looking back at me, your perfect smile, your confidence… your strength.

See…

You’re the thing under my bed late at night, creeping up on my mangled foot hanging over the edge of my sullied, broken bed. You’re the flicker of light in the mirror in my world of darkness that sets my heart on edge. You’re my fear, my hate, my sadness. Your happiness sends me catatonic, your smile sets my crumpling body on edge. Your acceptance of who you are is the thing that sends me scurrying back into the darkness behind that glass, it’s the conflict that bubbles beneath my cracked skin.

You.

Don’t you see?

Don’t you understand?

That tapping from the inside of the mirror at midnight when you’re home alone… that’s me. That’s me trying to get you to notice me, that’s me trying to slay you from my mind. Me trying to banish that perfect smile, those beautiful eyes, the magical laugh that haunt my dreams. It’s me trying to handle the fact that when you’re happy, when you’re out there living life and sleeping peacefully, I’m alone.

But when you’re ridiculing every part of your body, not confident enough to meet that person’s eyes, when you’re staring down the barrel of those heinous, sunken eyes in the mirror, that’s when I’m happiest. When we can both see the world outside for what it really is. For all the horror, the pain, the sadness. That’s when you, beautiful living you, and me, dead little me, are we.