At the water’s edge, I take off my shoes and socks, then step into the cold current and stand on the rocky stream bed in a spot where your shadow can fall fully upon the water’s surface. Leaning over her, I reach my hands through your shadow and jostle the water. Barely a moment later, emotional detritus comes off her as a plume of minuscule grit that brushes past my fingers and palms before flowing away, carried off downstream.
Her sense of self-worth shouldn’t be so debilitated by the success of others. It’s unbecoming and unhealthy. So I make her a social comparison blocker: custom-crafted cognitech packed into a hair clip, an alligator-style barrette that she can easily wear as an unobtrusive accessory to constantly, preemptively inhibit her mind’s habit of benchmarking herself against others.
So I walk over and ask if she’d like to get together sometime, to try the deliciously maddening botanicals I’ve picked out. Her eyes glint all the more beguilingly as she smiles kindly—probably to soften the blow she’s about to verbally deal, having no doubt read the increased blood flow in my facial capillaries.
Earrings here, a bird over there, clouds everywhere. So many lovely things sprinkled throughout this city, lying in wait until I’m close enough for them to effortlessly draw in and hold my gaze then attention with their visual siren songs. So I program my smartglasses to blur anything remotely pretty into sheer indiscernibility.
After we switch reflections to see what that’s like, you leave the bathroom. I follow you into the kitchen where you fix us a snack. I guess you’re hungry and assume we’ll switch back later in the afternoon. We don’t. But that’s fine. I’m not particularly attached to my reflection and having yours instead is a refreshing change.
She can only be referring to one thing, and that sends jealousy coursing through me, pushing out all other feelings, displacing every thought unrelated to the power. But the hegemony of envy affords me one piece of consolation: better one of us with the power than both without it, which is the way it’s been for years.