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Distorted Mirrors

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Helena’s eyes drifted to the fluorescent bulbs above, lips — busted in all, slightly parted. Her gaze was murky, as if she was somewhere far away while her body sat across from M.K.. Even in the clinical, green-hewed filter of the lights, Helena’s wiry bleached hair and pink ringed eyes made her seem like an angel. Especially when her sagged silhouette starkly contrasted against the dark and grimy wall behind her; no angry, frustrated lines marring her face or posture. Defenseless. Almost innocent. But M.K. wouldn’t be fooled. She knew what those hands were capable of. The anger, violence, and filth. So completely different from her sweet Niki, yet M.K. still saw her in this mirror of a murderer. M.K.’s breathe punched out in erratic, short pants. Her knuckles ached. Her knees trembled like her legs would give out at any moment. All she could do is look away in disgust.

“I... I used,” Helena croaked so quietly M.K. nearly missed it. “I used to believe that all the copies were just sheep. Stupid, lost, broken sheep. Used to think, ‘They are all just missing pieces of me’. It was why I’ve felt hollow, always.”

M.K. knew what hollowness felt like. The complete and utter emptiness inside. Knew how desperation could compel you to do almost anything to fill that emptiness. M.K. didn’t want to hear this from Helena and didn’t want to believe she was capable of being human with complicated emotions. Didn’t want to know that a blood-thirsty murderer, who slaughtered many of her sisters, could feel anything other than hate. No. Just a monster. A murderer. An assassin.

“I thought— If I kill all the sheep, all the broken bits would rise up, up, up to heaven,” one of Helena’s hands lifts to the light in a vague gesture, “and one day when I die they’re all there. My missing parts. We will all be together and I’d be whole. All of us. One soul. I know now that that is not true.” Her hand drops and her eyes narrow. “Lies. All they told — just lies. I am sorry, about your Niki. I do not know if it is Heaven I still believe in, but I think you will see her again one day, yes?” Helena finally looks up at the other, into another mirror. M.K. couldn’t tell if she was pleading for her own life, or if she was giving M.K. her pity, as someone would with a confused child.

It made it impossible for M.K. to stop the shaking of her hands as she swiftly pulled out her gun — aimed at the space between Helena’s dark eyebrows. The only sounds to be heard was M.K.’s sharp breathing, and the gentle clinkering of the gun. All she had to do was pull the trigger. One dead body and a deafening ringing and it would all be over. No more sisters dead at the hands of this broken mirror of herself. Of Niki. Of all of them. It would be clemency, really. To put this animal out of its hollow misery.

Yet, when M.K. looked into Helena’s eyes,

she

saw

Niki’s.

It wouldn’t be fair to let it live and breathe while Niki and the others couldn’t. But if she killed Helena... would M.K. be any different? Why these thoughts were happening here and now, when she’s about to do what she’s dreamed of for years, M.K. didn’t know. But her doubts became obvious as the inaction and gunshot-absent silence dragged on.

“You don’t have to do it,” came Helena’s raspy whisper. Her knuckles ached. “Once you give into hate, it can be hard to go back.”

That’s right. Helena gave into hate at some point. It destroyed innocent lives. She could stop that from ever happening again. The trigger clicked back slightly as her finger pulled tighter. It’d be instant. As her sight blurred with hot tears, M.K. could still see Helena closing her pale green eyes in resignation. She looked like an angel. Like a distorted Niki.

M.K. could feel the burn of bile rising up from her stomach. Her hands shook. Frantically, she pulled the sheep mask back over her scarred face, as if it would shield her from all the conflicting emotions or the consequences of her actions. Somehow, she knew Sarah would be devastated. Would mourn Helena as if she were worth the tears, as if they’d known each other their whole lives, and not met under the circumstances that they did. That of Helena sniping Katja sitting in the back seat of Beth’s car. Their bond made her feel a twitch of hot hate and a flood of sickening envy. Reminded her of when she was still Veera and still had Niki. M.K. slipped away, willing the tears and pounding heartache to dissipate.

When Helena opened her eyes again, she was alone in the dingy room. Only the sickly fluorescent glow to keep her company. She should feel grateful. She’ll be able to keep trying to be better. Keep trying to change and become her own light. To keep coming home and seeing her sestras, her family. She should be grateful, but still, the familiar hollowness stuck to her being the way dust sticks to sweaty skin in a dessert.