Each mask hides another,
Veil on tearstained veil.
Each tattered page of my heart,
Inked and stamped and sealed
In the shadows of my mind.
I wrote myself a fantasy,
Bound my heart in steel.
The bleeding aches I turned to scars,
My dreams to sweat and tears.
I formed and chiseled and polished
And pounded out my soul
Until my reflection stared back
Like a heroine of old.
I stood before the tarnished mirror
Of all I ought to be.
A little better than my best,
More caring there.
Let the world crumble at my feet;
My foundation lay within my soul,
Where no hand could touch.
The reflection grew dim,
The masks ached and chafed,
And one by one I let them fall
Until only I stood
The heroine who needed nothing else.
The aches still throbbed and pulsed
From some deeper, darker place.
Fissures spread across my frame,
Across the mirror.
I grasped and clutched the shards
Of who I thought I was.
But the heroine joined the masks,
In choking, blinding ash.
And in the cracking mirror, I saw
A trembling and lonely child
Stained with the dust of dreams.
Not quite as much as I’d always thought,
Less than all I’d tried to build.
All my efforts shattered
In glass about my feet.
I sank into the ruins of my best
As day drifted into dusk.
No safety, no point, no reason to try,
Only wild, chartless wilderness
A shadow where my reflection once stood.
Another crouches in the dust;
His tears reflect my own.
He holds out a hand.
“I can be enough.”
Hope Ann entertains a mob of younger siblings, manages shifts at Culver’s, and writes a wide range of fantasy. Fueled by passion, relationships, and constant learning, she works to provide an escape from the grind of normal life through fiction and the sarcastic, no-nonsense inspirational posts on her blog. The self-published author of the Legends of Light series, a personal writing coach, and the Story Embers newsletter manager, she has more information on her website: authorhopeann.com. You can also claim a free story about a young captain, an immortal fae, and one unwanted gift that could doom them both.