It is a strange thing to be two people at once. To shift, transform, almost as soon as I walk into the open air of the city. Some call it a mask and I suppose it could be called that in the sense that I alternate between both people. But for me it’s more than a changing of face or of apparel. It is an alternate identity, a girl with my name and my body who enjoys the things I hate, and who hates the things I enjoy. She smiles as she leaves my home, a façade of happiness that serves to conceal my despair. But she’s not a mask, she is an artificial part of me. She wears clothes that are flattering to my figure, but aren’t my style, and she wears much more makeup than I would. She covers the flaws I want to hide. She smooths out the rough edges of my personality. She makes me likeable.

But she’s not a mask.

I wasn’t always two people. He was my undoing. His introduction to my life gave her breath. Almost without permission she stepped into my existence. Because of her I changed. His interests were her interests. He was a vegan, marathon-running personal trainer. She gave up meat and their byproducts. She spent money I didn’t have on name-brand exercise attire. She started running every day. She trained not to be healthy, but to be the kind of woman he could love, the kind of woman he might desire, the woman he would pursue obsessively. I am not that woman, so she tried to be. She ran. They ran together. When his brown eyes looked into hers, she felt accepted. I felt like a fraud.

I wanted to be me, the real me that reads and writes and sings and cries into pillows and eats too much ice cream and hates to exercise, but my desire to be seen and known was outweighed by my desire to be accepted. She permeated my identity, burning deep among the darkening shadows of my regrets. Months passed. I became increasingly bitter and angry. She fought to be closer to him. She trained harder, ran farther and faster, fucked longer, and told herself that she was happy. But then she missed a period, and I could run no longer.

Janel Brubaker

Janel Brubaker

Janel Brubaker recently graduated from Clackamas Community College with her associates in English and Creative Writing. She worked as a student assistant editor for the Clackamas Literary Review for the 2015 and 2016 editions. She has been published in Sick Lit Magazine, The Bella Online Literary Review, Heartbeat Literary Journal, Crab Fat Magazine, Dark Fire Fiction, and Linden Avenue Literary Journal. She will soon be published in Corner Bar Magazine and Slink Chunk Press. Janel is currently pursuing a B.A. in Creative Writing from Marylhurst University.
Janel Brubaker

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