Categories > Original > Drama

Ellen's Story

by fireXatXwill 2 reviews

When I was a little girl, I had a beautiful reflection. **Asperger's POV**

Category: Drama - Rating: G - Genres: Angst - Published: 2008-06-06 - Updated: 2008-06-07 - 1313 words - Complete

When I was a little girl, I had a beautiful reflection. Her name was Arabella. How fine it would be, I’d always thought, to possess a beautiful and mysterious name like Arabella. Ellen wasn’t a horrible name, but it lacked that whispered hint of glamour and excitement I used to dream of for myself. In my mind all my dreams, all the imaginary worlds I had read about in books, all the songs I’d listened to, all the flights of fancy that occupied my thoughts; they were all behind that mirror. They lived somewhere behind that sheet of quicksilver and glass, and I wished desperately that I could dive right through the mirror into that dreamland. Though I never did get through, Arabella never gave up on me. She stood there, day and night, waiting for me; and when I gazed longingly through the glass at her, she looked back with equal longing. She was my best friend, better even than Troll and Pebble. Troll’s hair fell off, and Pebble kept getting lost. Arabella never got lost or fell to pieces.

I haven’t seen Arabella in a long time. She left not long after I met Sally; I don’t know where she went. Now when I look in the mirror, I see flat glass and the reflection of a plain girl with stringy hair and a bumpy nose. I know it’s just a reflection, and the world I imagined was so close was, in fact, made up of reflected light.

Sally’s room didn’t have any mirrors. The carpet was a speckled grey colour and quite ugly, but when I squinted really hard and tilted my head I could see that there was a family of rabbits in the pattern. I watched them play while Sally asked questions and Mum answered them. Then Sally spoke to me, so I looked at her hands instead. When I looked back, the rabbits were gone.

“And how are you feeling today, Ellen?” she asked kindly. I shook my head and looked at my shoes. I didn’t like talking to strangers. I don’t think Sally got the hint though, because she kept talking to me.

“I’m good,” I mumbled shyly.

She gave me some crayons and let me draw for a bit. I liked the green crayon best, because it was the only one that was still sharp.

In our subsequent meetings, Sally taught me a lot. I vividly remember those sessions in her grey-carpeted room, talking about my school. She wanted to know why I didn’t play with the other children, so I explained to her that I was scared of them and they didn’t like me. She asked me why I was scared. I told her I didn’t know. Then she asked how I knew that they didn’t like me, so I told her that they didn’t talk to me or invite me to play with them. I felt a bit sad when I started talking about that. I usually felt a bit lonely at school, and I wanted so badly for the other kids to like me and play with me. There were lots of fun games I never got to join in, like handball and horses and knucklebones. I was a bit in awe of my classmates. They were never scared of each other, or lonely or upset. They were all friends. I was happy with the friends I had, but sometimes I wished I had other people to play with as well as toys and books.

Sally explained to me that the reason they didn’t talk to me was because they thought I didn’t like them. She taught me that people send signals with their body, which tell other people what they’re thinking and feeling. She said that when I hunched over and looked at the ground, I was telling the other children that I didn’t like them and wanted them to go away. I didn’t really understand, so she showed me some pictures. I got it a bit after that.

Once I understood, I realised that the other kids did like me and want to play with me. I’d been telling them the wrong things because I didn’t know what to do. So when Sally said she would teach me how to say things with my body as well, I payed very close attention. I learnt to stand up straight, smile, and look at people when they talk to me. This is telling them that I like them and want to play with them. I also learnt to answer their questions with questions of my own, and that this was a conversation and it was how people made friends with one another.

It’s funny how clearly I remember those first sessions with Sally. We moved away after a few months, but I took her lessons very much to heart. Soon I had several friends, and the other kids let me play handball and horses and knucklebones with them. I stopped playing with my imaginary friends.

Then came high school, and with it a whole new set of rules. It wasn’t enough to smile and stand up straight anymore; you had to wear the right clothes, read the right magazines and listen to the right music if you wanted people to talk to you. It took me years, lots of fumbling and three new schools, but I understand now how it all works. I’ve established a position for myself in the social hierarchy; near the bottom, out of the way. My friends are angry with me right now, because I’ve been getting so unhappy lately and I don’t really know why. They say I have plenty to be happy about, and that I don’t talk enough. They want to know why I’m so weird and awkward, why I don’t smile more. I can hardly tell them the reason, which is that I’m afraid of them. That after all these years, I still don’t really understand how their world works.

I’ve come to understand that this social hierarchy, this strange, over-crowded existence where dreams must bow to the opinions of others and freedom is lost to the whims of etiquette; this is reality, but it’s never felt real to me at all. I’ve been living in a dream world where strangers matter more than fantasies, where my worth is decided by people who’ve never lived in my head. The world I used to live in, where rabbits frolicked in the carpet and pebbles had voices of their own; that was real to me. I was lonely, but at least life made sense. My dreams and imaginings, my fears and strange ideas, were a more vibrant reality than anything the outside world could offer me.

I look in the mirror. Ellen is there, looking plain as ever. But she’s changed, because now I know that she’s an illusion, a reflection. She’s melting away, and as she goes I can see Arabella again. She was there all along, trapped behind the glass. Her hand comes up to meet mine as we both touch the mirror. It is cool and solid to the touch, but now I can see what’s really on the other side. A flicker of a smile crosses her lips, and I feel more connected to her and her beautiful mirror realm than I’ve ever felt to this other, artificial reality. The Ellen girl everyone else believed in was just a façade; a flight of their fancy, but never belonging to me. It’s time I stop clutching at shadows and illusions, and learn to live in the real world.
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