By Belicia Rhea
In the funhouse, it’s not as fun as they make it sound. There’s no prizes. No thrills. It’s only a maze with never-ending walls of mirrors. You stare at yourself. At your miniature self. At your enormity. At your pores up close and wrinkles in technicolor, your legs long as stilts, your tucked-in shirt a blurry thing stretched to the floor, your shoes ten inches tall. Who the fuck is blasting this clown music? And is that the same you looking back? You walk past other reflections, turn to yourself—no, yes, no, couldn’t be. When did your face get so round?
Finally, you’re past the turn with the colorful paint flecks and strobes making your head shriek. The lights are off in this next hallway, and you’re glowing in the dark, some version of yourself at night. Your teeth look acid yellow, or purple, green maybe, depending who you ask, but who knows what other people see? Because every time you look, you’re something different. Upside down, flat assed, board thin, or wider than your arms can stretch. You laugh. It’s still funny. There’s plenty of mirrors left, endless perspectives to examine. But no one’s here. No one’s looking. It’s just you.
Pretty soon, you’re nauseous. This place never ends. Gag’s over, you’re sick of yourself. You turn right, left, back around. Now you’re just going in circles. You walk straight into a mirror wall, smack your head face first. It hurts. You’re trapped. Claustrophobic. It’s scary in here. You examine the bags under your eyes. Those ears. A face only a mother could love. Well, not your mother.
Look at you. Sobbing in a funhouse, scaring the children. Are those children? No. Those are just the miniature yous, all the small bits left behind, contrasting this figure in front of you that you don’t recognize, that keeps changing, that looks sick. But those faces following are still there, and no matter how fast you sprint and trip through this maze, they’ll always be a few steps behind. When you turn your head to look back, one of them laughs.
You spin around. There you are, all of you: oblong and fisheyed and stretched, the endless same copies who aren’t even you anymore, this army of your worst shapes wondering how to get out, where to go next, how to keep yourselves together. And you’re pleading with everyone to stop crying, everyone just shut the fuck up and think, when at last you see salvation, the crack of the exit behind some plastic curtain strips. You run, finally the end, thank god it’s done, you’re almost free, but when you turn the corner—it’s a dead end.
You stand at the mouth of an empty hall of mirrors inside of mirrors, endless turns and directions, but you’re nowhere, invisible. Little and big and fat and long you, young and old and aglow-in-the-dark-you are just gone. And you’re frantic, searching for yourself, for any of you, when you start to worry if maybe this really is the end, if maybe none of you even happened.
You’re all alone, so thin and vanished even you can’t see you, so nothing that you don’t show up. Just some missed crack in an angle of light. Some invisible nobody in a funhouse. The mirror looks at the no one looking back and says, you’re dust, time’s up, it’s over. There’s nothing left to even reflect.
Belicia Rhea was born under a waning crescent moon in the Sonoran Desert. You can find her at beliciarhea.com and read more of her work published in Bending Genres, Miracle Monocle, and Versification, among other places.