Monica sighed in the bathroom mirror. “Why doesn’t everyone like me? I’m not that bad of a person.” She had just started at her new job and for reasons she couldn’t explain, people just weren’t warming up to her. It’s almost as if someone had come in before her and spread all kinds of untruths about her. Monica sighed again. “Okay, let’s get on with it.”
She flung her towel against the far wall of the bathroom where it hit with a dull thump and fell mostly onto the towel rack in a clumsy heap. Keeping it off the floor was considered a win in Monica’s book. Jumbled or not, it was hanging.
In her bedroom, Monica chose an outfit quickly. As she mindlessly grabbed a top and skirt from the closet, she had a passing thought that maybe it was her choice of clothes that turned people off. Maybe they were too plain? Too predictable? “It’s business-smart. I’m smart and in business.” she justified to herself. But in the back of her mind, she scheduled a wardrobe refresh to happen soon.
Out the door and off to work, she walked briskly to the bus stop, where Stan met her. Stan was all-business, all the time. They worked at different companies, but shared the same bus.
“Morning, Monica. You settling in at Adams? Third day’s the charm.” All-business-all-the-time chirped.
“I’m breaking through. Everyone loves me.” Monica returned the fake cheer on the same level as Stan.
“You go, girl.” Stan closed the conversation with an equally ridiculous finger-gun gesture. Monica rolled her eyes inside.
Monica had the same day as the previous two. People uninterested in her or what she had to offer or say. But they didn’t seem to want to get rid of her, either. They just wanted her to… exist. Back at home after the parade of monotony, she dejectedly looked into her bathroom mirror again and asked the same question, “Why doesn’t everyone like me?”
The mirror suddenly appeared to extend into an infinite tunnel, black and hollow. Monica jumped back, shocked and afraid at this sudden change. A voice came from the deep void. “You want love?” The voice was feminine – thin, not husky; unthreatening, yet dispassionate. When Monica didn’t respond, it repeated, slightly more enticingly, “You want love?”
“Ummm. I don’t exactly want love, but I want to be loved.” Monica spoke carefully, then quickly added, “Does that make sense?”
“Unreturned love becomes resentment. You want?” The voice sounded suddenly pandering.
Slightly offended by the misunderstanding, Monica clarified herself. “Oh, I love everyone who loves me. That’s not a problem. So, yeah, I want.”
“Everybody loves you now.” And the mirror flashed back to its reflective self, showing Monica staring agape.
The next day, Monica noticed a radical change in Mr. Stan, the all-business man. He looked at her; engaged with her; listened to her. They had a real conversation. “This is love?” thought Monica. “It’s weird.”
Everyone at her workplace had similar transformations. Her ideas were listened to. She was invited to lunch by multiple groups of people. She never had a lack of conversation or need for any extra assistance. It was all there. At the end of the day, as she readied for bed, she faced herself in her bathroom mirror and offered her thanks. The mirror did not respond, so Monica answered herself. “I love you, Monica.”
The mirror did its stretching thing again, into the infinite tunnel. Monica thought it seemed different this time. Darker, scarier? She dismissed her concerns as just getting used to the tunnel after seeing it once before. She was going to express her thanks again, but the feminine voice came first. “I can do more.”
“What is more?” asked a skeptical Monica. Her mind began to fill with ideas. What’s more than everyone loving me? Is there more than love? Is there a more than everyone? An everything?
As her mind landed on the word “everything”, the voice spoke her thought, “Everything.” Monica puzzled over this. “You want?”, queried the voice, sounding a bit like an excited child, wanting a specific answer. When Monica continued to ponder what everything meant as opposed to everyone, the voice repeated its earlier warning, the one that spurred Monica to act initially. “Unreturned love becomes resentment.”
“Yeah, yeah. Trust me, I’ve been loving all the loving I’ve been getting. No shortage here.”
“Sure, why not.” Monica replied dismissively. She still didn’t understand the difference and what could it matter?
“Now everything loves you. Now.” And the mirror suddenly wore Monica’s confused expression.
Monica went to bed and slept incredibly well. When she woke up and reflected on the best sleep of her life, she had the weirdest expression in her head, “the bed and blankets hugged me all night.” She took her morning shower and dried herself. She looked in the mirror and proclaimed, “I love everything and everything loves ME!” And with that, she spun and threw her towel at the wall over the towel rod. As the towel hit the wall, Monica heard a faint cry. Her eyes grew wide and watered up slightly. She did not just hear a cry. It had to have been an animal outside or something.
To satisfy herself, she rushed to the bedroom window and peeked outside. Her back yard was teeming with animals, all staring at her window. When they saw her face, they rose up. Some waved, some shook their heads, some seemed to smile. Monica slammed the curtains closed in absolute shock. “No. No. No. That cannot be what I’ve done.”
She peeked outside again and the animals were all still there looking back at her. Monica suddenly felt warm all over. “Oh my god. I’m a fucking Disney princess now!” The thought of that filled her with even more love for everything. It began to make sense. Her bed, her blankets, the towel, oh no, the towel! She rushed back to the bathroom and stroked the towel gently, arranging it carefully on the rack. “I know now,” she explained comfortingly.
Getting dressed was rather more difficult this morning. All her outfits wanted her to wear them. When she would pick one, the others would express disappointment. Monica had to console all of the left-behind outfits and get on with her day. She promised they would all get a chance. She did not know that promise would go unfulfilled. She did not know it was her last day.
Monica went out to her back yard and expressed her love for all the cute creatures that came out to see her and told them she’d be back later. And then, Monica felt something crawling up her leg. It was a large spider.
“Oh shit!” Monica swore as she swatted the spider off her leg. The spider was at first dazed, but then collected itself and moved towards her again. “Oh no. I hate spiders.” The spider paused, looked around, and advanced again. “Stay back!” Monica warned. She grabbed a broom that was near her, resting against the wall.
With a shriek of surprise, Monica found the broom was covered with ants. She shook them off her hand and backed away. Now the spider and a large collection of ants were advancing on her. She couldn’t love them. No way in hell. She dashed back inside the house and slammed the door behind her.
Monica met her end that day by the ones she could never love: spiders, ants, cockroaches, bees, and the like. They all came to see her. They swarmed her house so she could not leave. They blotted out the light from all her windows. Eventually, the unloved creatures found holes and entered the house quickly. They loved her and yet resented her for not loving them in return. They made her understand. They only wanted her to love them, and she would not. As Monica was slowly and methodically devoured and as she screamed and writhed on the floor of her house, Monica was not missed at her new job at Adams. As it turned out, her co-workers didn’t even care if she existed.