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Authors: Julia Mayer

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BOOK: Eyes in the Mirror
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“Samara!”

“Dee!”

“Wait there,” I told her. I ran back into my room and grabbed a picture of me, Jamie, and Sammy and the only picture of tiny little adorable Sammy where his eyes were open and he was almost smiling.

“Look! Look at my beautiful boys!”

Samara stared at the picture in the mirror. “Wow, he's gorgeous. Look at those eyes.”

“They're yours,” I told her. “They're your eyes.”

“No,” she said.

“Yes, they're your eyes.” She smiled at me, and I saw her eyes, the same eyes my little baby had, beautiful and sparkling with tears. I wanted to hug her; I wanted her to hug me. “Can I?” I asked her.

“Please, yes, come through. Come please. Let me get a better look at that picture.”

I stepped through the mirror, and Samara and I collapsed into each other's arms. We leaned back from each other only so that I could show her the picture of the baby I thought of as partially hers.

“So how are you? I haven't seen you in…I've lost count of time,” I admitted. “In a long time.”

“I'm okay,” she said, “except I think I messed things up with my dad. I thought I was moving to Tucson with my friend Tanya and I left my dad a note, but at the last minute I changed my mind. He'd found the note already, though, and it's wet. I think he was crying. And he's gone.”

I paused for a moment before asking her, “Do you have any idea where he went?”

“I think so,” she said tentatively.

“I think I do too,” I said.

“I think he went to see my mom. But I guess, well, I guess I'll just wait until he comes home.”

“I think we should go,” I told her. I knew this was my opportunity. I had been trying to figure out how to do this for months, and the opportunity had just fallen into my lap. If this worked in real life the way it had in my head, I would have the friend I thought I lost, my baby, and my boyfriend.

She furrowed her eyebrows but finally nodded her head. “I'm scared, though. Will you come with me?”

I nodded. I should have a couple of hours before Jamie and my mom got back with Sammy. As we walked, Samara turned to me. “What's his name?”

“Samuel.”

“That's a nice name.”

“I call him Sammy, though. Samuel is too big for him right now when he's so tiny.”

“I'll help you out if you need me to. I can come baby-sit or something,” she said.

I wasn't sure if I could trust her with my baby. We still had rebuilding to do. I knew that he was partially her baby, but I didn't want to commit to that so all I said was, “Thank you.”

We walked along in silence until we came to the gates of a cemetery. She stood staring at the gate. “I can't do it. I can't do it, Dee.” As she said it, a man approached us, offering us flowers, and I shook him off.

“Yes, you can,” I told her. “It's time. You need to say good-bye. Even if this isn't where your dad is. You need to go in.”

I looked at Samara, trying to read how she was feeling. I could usually tell. We had the same facial expressions. But I hadn't seen her in months. I was pretty sure I was doing the right thing, but she seemed so hesitant. I stood silently watching her.

She pushed the gate open and took a step in. I followed her, quietly keeping my distance, allowing her to lead the way. She walked and walked deeper into the cemetery until finally we found him. Found her. I stopped a few feet away and let Samara approach him. I was glad to do this with her, but a big part of me felt like I didn't belong here, felt like I was intruding on a personal moment. Like when I'd told her dad about her cutting.

“Hi, Dad.”

“Samara,” he said, looking up, his face tear-streaked, “you're here.” He burst into tears again, and I looked down at the ground while they hugged each other. I wasn't sure what their relationship had been like the last few months, but if Samara had taken off without saying good-bye, they couldn't have been doing too well together.

I had gotten so distracted with my life, with Jamie and the baby, that it was hard for me to remember that Samara's life had been continuing as well.

“I'm here,” she repeated back to her father. The sound of her voice reminded me where I was and why. I inched closer to her, wanting to be there and wanting to be invisible at the same time.

Tears were rolling down her cheeks as she looked down at the headstone. “I miss you so much, Mom. I'm so sorry, Dad. I'm sorry I left that note. I'm sorry I said I was running away. I shouldn't have done that. I won't do that.”

She stepped away from him, glancing back toward me. It almost looked like seeing me gave her strength, and when she looked back at her dad, she said, “I'll stay and finish school. And we'll figure it out together. I'm not going anywhere.”

I put my arm around her and whispered quietly into her ear, “Neither am I.” She gave me a watery smile, and I tried to convey through the hand on her waist that she could trust me. That this kind of rift between the two of us wouldn't happen again. That I wouldn't let it. For the first time she looked relieved. Looked…calm? Or was I imagining it?

Her father stared back and forth between the two of us. “You know, you two kind of look alike.”

Acknowledgments

First and foremost to Dan Ehrenhaft, who stepped into the roles of editor, agent, coach, boss, and personal cheerleader as necessary. Also to Leah, Kelly, and everyone at Sourcebooks for seeing me through from beginning to end. Joan and the entire 826NYC crew, who spend every day making the dreams of young writers come true and helping create dreams in kids who didn't know they were writers. And huge thanks to the other writers in my group from summer '05: Samantha, Kyisha, Dylan, and Will, who all gave me invaluable advice as I worked through the first draft of this book.

To all of the friends and family who put up with me through this whole process. Liz, who fielded the many questions that came from the Post-it outline of this book on our wall. Anna, who was constantly bucking me up, reminding me to be proud when I was feeling down and out. Both Kate and Catherine for immediately seeing the endpoint of all of this and reminding me of it when I lost that vision. All of Kane Street Synagogue, particularly Elizabeth, Emma, Eve, and Miriam for being the shoulders and the back pounders when I needed them. Ezra, for taking in stride so much more than I could have expected. To all of these people for teaching me what a best friend really means.

Aunt Liz, Uncle Barry, Aunt Joan, David, Jake, Ben, Nathan, Rob, and Ilana, you are the core on which I have built myself, the basis on which I have explored the world.

The many teachers of BHSEC who inspired me to write, create, and push myself to do better, including Dr. Ween, Dr. Clarke, Dr. Cordi, Mr. Peterson, Ms. Yaffee, Dr. Mazie, and Dr. Lerner.

The many other friends who supported me between there and here in a wide variety of ways: Adina, Rebecca, Connor, Ellen, Ben, Sarah, and Erica.

Finally, to the three people who lived and died with me with each version of this book, who saved copies on their hard drives without opening them, who inspired me: Mom, Dad, and Jesse. Without the late night phone calls and mid-afternoon emails, without the love and support you have given me, this simply would not have happened.

About the Author

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Julia Mayer wrote the first version of
Eyes in the Mirror
as part of an eight-week program run by 826NYC during the summer between her sophomore and junior years at Bard High School Early College. She graduated from Boston University in 2009 with a double degree in philosophy and psychology. An avid swing dancer, she is also believed to be the only person to own a plastic hot dog signed by the 2009 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest champion.

BOOK: Eyes in the Mirror
2.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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