Memory plays tricks on you.
My first memory is watching the rain trace root systems on the windowpane while listening to my father beating my sister.
Well, technically, she's my half sister.
The sound wasn't unusual. Raised voices and hidden violence; Must be Tuesday.
Fast-forward. I'm 8 or 9, and dispite my sister having escaped the violence by moving out at 13, the raised voices of my mother and father remain - a perversion of stability.
I don't know why that night was so different. I don't know why it even happened.
What I know is, one moment I'm laying in bed, a lead weight of anxiety rolling in my belly with my eyes squeezed shut - as if that would block out the sound. The next moment, I open my eyes, and staring back at me, floating parallel with my body above the bed is me. A Version of me. A Reflection full of anger.
I was a lonely kid, I found most of my friends in the pages of books, so I had a fairly large vocabulary for a 8 or 9 year old. But I remember knowing, as I looked, terrified, into the eyes of this person who was and wasn't myself, that what I was seeing was Wrath. Capital W. Wrath born of pain, fear, frusteration and most of all helplessness. Hopelessness.
The only power a child has is scilence. So I didn't call out. I didn't scream in fear to bring someone running to protect me.
Ain't no one out there can save themselves, how they going to protect me from me?
So I stayed quite. I stared at the girl and she stared at me. You think this is a ghost story? This wasn't some side-of-the-eye, I-felt-a-draft-and-saw-a-shape kind of thing. Naw, this is NOT that.
I stared at myself, watching her hate me for over 10 seconds. I was scared to look away, scared to close my eyes, and scard to keep them open. I was frozen. You don't think 10 seconds is long? it's forever. It's a "being a bad party with a creepy guy hitting on you with a glass eye and no sense of personal space" kind of forever.
Finally, like a switch has been pressed that enabled me to move and did one hard blink, and she was gone.