The Two-Dimensional Girl

When the girl in the mirror started to talk to me, my uncle had already had his nervous breakdown. I was smart enough not to tell anyone about her. I wasn't really into the idea of spending weeks at a clinic, taking pill after pill, being treated like a child by everyone. Actually, I was pretty much a teenager, and all I wanted was to be treated like an adult. Talking about the girl in the mirror, telling people that she was giving me some pretty cool advice―although they were a little extreme at times―would be practically the same as asking them to hospitalize me. I would end up like poor Uncle Selton, who no longer had a job and spent his entire time telling everybody that he was an artist. That's why I'd lock the door to talk to her. I didn't even tell my best friend Juliana that there was a girl in the mirror.

What impressed me most wasn't the fact that she lived in the mirror, but how she would always get her forecasts right. She was the first one to say that my mom was going to ask for a divorce and that my sister would come back from traveling abroad with even less money than before she had left. She also said my dad would get very lonely after the separation and, consequently, would end up liking me even more. 

I was so happy to have a friend like her and was dying to tell the girls about her... But then I would think about Uncle Selton and keep my mouth shut. I loved my secret friend, and keeping silent was the sacrifice I needed to make for us to go on meeting each other.

Later on, as I was growing up, I started to ask for her advice about more serious stuff. When I turned seventeen, for example, all my friends already had breast implants, and I felt I needed it too. If they hadn't shown up by the time I turned seventeen, they wouldn't show up later. 

Back then, my dad was very sweet to me. He loved to meet me at parties and night clubs and be introduced to my friends. Of course they didn't want anything to do with him, but I would tell him that they all thought he was a very cute mature man, and he'd have that silly smile on his face. To my surprise, he didn't object to my surgery and only asked me if he could put it on his credit card. My mom didn't like the idea, though, and got all pessimist about it. She tried to scare me, saying that implants could leak, mess up my breast milk production, and make my nipples less sensitive. Now I know they were all lies, but back then I was frightened by it all and rushed back to the mirror to ask the girl for some advice.

As usual, she was very lucid. She explained that my mom was just jealous, because my dad was paying for everything and she didn't even get birthday presents. She said boys would pay a lot more attention to me, which would be a much-needed boost to my self-esteem. I soon realized that she was absolutely right. I only got three hundred milliliters for each breast, but that was enough for a thousand boys to ask for my number and talk about me all the time, as if I were one of those reality show celebrities.

I thanked the girl in the mirror every single day. She praised me and watched me so carefully that I even thought she could be bisexual, but I had no need to worry about it. After all, she lived inside the mirror and couldn't feel me up anyway. However, that was enough for me to start feeling sorry for her. She was there, trapped inside the mirror, couldn't go out at night, couldn't make out with anyone, didn't have anyone else to talk to but me. Honestly, I really felt for her. Sometimes, in the middle of a party or at a night club, I'd go to the restroom and tell her everything that had been going on, just to keep her entertained. At first, she enjoyed it, paid close attention to what I was saying, and made interesting observations about my adventures. Then she started to say some weird things, like she was undermining me and seeing things wrong all the time. 

When I told her that there was a guy hitting on me, she asked, “But you're still into it? Aren't you tired of these stupid games?” When I told her about a silly fight I had with my mom, she hit really low: “Haven't you realized it that she wants you to leave home? Aren't you too old to still live with mommy?”

I thought she was getting very bitter, and that was why I didn't tell her I had met Fernando. He was older, had an Audi, and was a Business Executive at an importing company. I wasn't sure what a Business Executive did, but when I saw the beautiful apartment he had in Leblon, I didn't even ask. It was a very large studio apartment. There was a queen-size bed in the bedroom and even a bidet in the bathroom.

The day we had sex on the couch, I kept thinking, Wow, this living room is so big! If I lived here, I could bring my friends over to watch a movie. When we had sex in the bedroom, I spread my arms and kept touching the sheets. He must have thought I was climaxing, but I was actually measuring the bed and thinking how we could share that bed and not bother each other while sleeping. But the day I got really happy was when I made an excuse and went into the kitchen to open his fridge. Oh my God! He had everything I liked: hearts of palm, dry tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella! 

From that day on, it was as if I had fallen in love, because all I could think about was Fernando. I would dream about Fernando. I wanted to do everything to please Fernando―even swallowing a lot of semen. I didn't mind he wasn't the man of my life. He was my gateway to the apartment of my life, and that was enough for me.

So, I wasn't dumb enough to say these things to the girl in the mirror, because the way she was getting so bitter, I was sure she would criticize everything. She would say I didn't love Fernando and only saw him as a way for me to leave my mother's house. She'd also make up things about how he didn't love me, that he was only obsessed by the pleasure I was giving him in bed. To avoid this sort of argument, I started to only greet the girl in the mirror and, if she asked me something more personal, I'd give her some excuse and turn away. I was an adult now and it was time I made my own decisions.

I spent a great deal of time without talking to her. I didn't even tell her how my wedding went, or how my mom got happy when I moved out. I didn't even confess to her my enormous disappointment in my mom, who never wondered if I was happy and just wanted me to find another place to live. I didn't tell her about all those jokes my sister kept telling, just because Fernando was almost twenty years older than I was.

I also kept silent when I had to face all the prejudice from my friends, who said that if any of them wanted a sugar daddy all they had to do was snap their fingers that two hundred of them would come right away. I wasn't offended by that kind of talk. They could get themselves a sugar daddy, but how many of them would be willing to take them back home to go live with them? Those girls were all stupid and silly, they couldn't cook ravioli with funghi sauce, or petit gâteu with ice cream. They were meant for those guys full of muscles and empty heads, who could only become useful to work as delivery men.

Still, I didn't talk about any of it to the girl in the mirror because I knew she would say I was arrogant, or maybe she would even insinuate that I'm not so different from my friends. I actually lost touch with those girls and started to read some old, thick books that had nothing to do with vampires or werewolves. I learned that many women had gone through the same problems I was having, and I was so relieved to realize that. Reading was a lot safer than talking to the mirror, because I could see other people's problems without anyone seeing mine. I think I forgot all about the girl in the mirror, so fascinated I was with those stories about young single girls who were dying to get married, or married women who were dying to have a lover.

Back then, Fernando loved my food and said I didn't need to get a job. All I had to do was stay home cooking and taking care of the house. If I accepted the idea it was because I wanted to read some more and then go to school to get a degree in Psychology or Literature. But sometimes reading got boring, so I started to use the computer and talk to foreigners on the Internet. I thought Fernando would never be jealous of foreigners, because a guy on the other side of the world could hit on me, but would never be able to touch me. Besides, I was only talking to them to practice my English and get some tips on what books to read.

The problem is that some perverts would show up sometimes and ask me to do some indecent stuff. Some wanted me to strip down to my panties, others asked me to masturbate in front of the camera. Of course I'd say no. I confess that some propositions did excite me, but I wasn't willing to get into any trouble with Fernando and go back to live with my mom. When these guys started saying weird things, I would change the subject and talk about books. 

That was when I first heard about Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, and other women who seemed a lot more unhappy than I was. Later on, someone recommended some Iranian female authors and, when I read their books, that was when I felt the happiest about my life! Oh my God, there were so many unfortunate people in the world, and I had that nice apartment, lived in Leblon, and went to the movies every Saturday. The only thing I missed was going out dancing, but it was easy to get around it by turning up the volume while cleaning the house.

I started to feel good about myself, and I even thought about talking to the girl in the mirror again, just to have her keep me company. But I shouldn't have considered it, because weird things started to happen. The following day I actually received some emails from Internet guys thanking me for my performance, saying that I had put on a great show, that I was amazing, and so on and so forth. I had no idea what they were talking about and I thought they had gone crazy after spending too much time on the web. However, I received more emails every week asking me to do it again. Some guys would even offer me money and I drove myself nuts wondering what was going on and what the hell they were talking about.

When a guy told me all about it, I just couldn't believe it! Of course it hadn't been me! They had to be mistaking me for someone else, or maybe I had been the target of a fucking collective hallucination! But soon my intuition told me that the girl in the mirror most likely had something to do with it. I rushed to the bathroom to ask her some questions.

“Go ahead! Show up 'cause you got some explaining to do,” I commanded. I couldn't imagine she would admit to everything without the least shame. I was shocked! I didn't know that perverted side of her.

“Poor boys,” she alleged. “They're just a bunch of nerds who probably have never seen a girl naked before. What's wrong with showing a little skin?”

“You must be crazy! Are you telling me you've used my image to show yourself on the Internet?!”

“I'm sorry, my friend, but this is the only image I have. I can't use anybody else's.”

She said that in such a way that it almost killed me. She displayed this wicked satisfaction, almost scorn. I realized she felt pleasure in acting like someone else, in being a complete fraud, without being blamed for it. I got so angry, but so angry that if she hadn't been inside that mirror, I would have slapped her around! That was when I remembered that she lived inside the mirror... How had that shameless girl got into my webcam? I asked her right away, even though I knew she was giving me the runaround.

“The mirror is not the only place I live,” she said. “I can project myself in any flat surface that reflects an image of awareness. Computer screens are flat surfaces that reflect images and... Well you get it, right?

I hadn't really got it. What kind of story was that? “Flat surfaces?” “Image of awareness?” Had that little whore turned into a philosopher now?

I was a little distressed and spent days without using the computer. I was afraid Fernando would find out and think it was all my fault. I started to hate the girl in the mirror. It wasn't fair that this crazy thing was happening. She could appear in any screen out there and everybody would think she was me. 

Every time I'd think about it, I got all tensed up and wanted to have more and more sex with Fernando to try to relax. Actually, after we got married, we weren't having as much sex and that bothered me. It's not that I liked sex, because I actually didn't, but it was one of the few things that could give me some sense of accomplishment. I didn't have a job, I didn't go to school, I spent the entire day reading books and on the computer. When we had sex, I’d think, There's something I can actually do: I can satisfy my husband. The problem was that he didn't want me anymore, which made me nervous. One day I insinuated to him that he could take some Viagra once in a while. I didn't know men that well, and I had no idea that hearing something like that was like killing them.

From that day on, everything changed in our marriage. Fernando started to get jealous and he would call me all the time to ask me where I was. Whenever we'd go to a party, he'd watch me from far away, then he'd say that I had my eyes on such and such guy. Of course it was all in his head, and I was pissed at him for having to explain myself a thousand times. I'd tell him I loved him, and ask for forgiveness all the time for mentioning Viagra. I grew tired of it and felt increasingly misunderstood.

Now I didn't even have the girl in the mirror to understand me. The worst part of it all was that I couldn't even get separated. The apartment was his and, if I asked for the divorce, I'd have to go back and live with my mother. I could accept anything, except moving back home, especially now that my mom had a younger boyfriend and everybody in our family was embarrassed for her.

The only way out was for me to find a job, but I knew I couldn't get a good salary, because I never got a degree. That was my only option, though. Maybe I could save some money for ten years or so and buy an apartment, have my own life. I wanted to forget about Fernando and his sick jealousy, as well as my mother and her selfishness, which must somehow be a kind of sickness as well.

I logged in and started to apply for jobs online. Suddenly, who appeared in my screen and started to talk to me? Yes, it was her, the girl in the mirror. I remembered that whole thing about flat surfaces and told her that I better start calling her “two-dimensional girl.”

“Yes, it suits me well,” she agreed. “It's more contemporary, too.”

I don't know where that whore got those words from. I was still kind of mad at her, but there was no point in having a fight. Considering that depressing situation, maybe she could help me somehow. She must have read my mind, because she decided to give me some website addresses out of the blue.

“Try this one: And then this one:”

When I visited those websites, I actually regretted listening to that slut. It was just another perverted idea of hers. “Do you think I'm just like you?! Do you think I'll become an Internet stripper just to make money?”

“It isn't just about stripping,” she said. “You gotta masturbate too.”

I didn't even answer. I turned off the computer and went to cry in bed. I was feeling really down. My marriage was a failure, I didn't have a career, and my only friend, who knew me since I was a child, suggested that I should become a virtual prostitute. I couldn't stop crying, and had to put on some heavy make up later so Fernando wouldn't figure out that I had spent the entire day crying. That was when he called to talk about some complicated stuff happening at work and to let me know that he would be home late. So I went back to the computer and looked through those sites again. 

My husband actually deserved to be cheated on just a little bit. He didn't love me anymore and didn't even care about my feelings. When I saw that a girl could make some three-hundred bucks a day just doing those silly things, I almost had a heart attack. Oh my God! Three hundred a day! How long would it take me to buy my own apartment? But I couldn't do those things, I wasn't like that. Showing my tits and masturbating in front of the camera? I didn't even enjoy masturbating!

Then it hit me and I had the most incredible idea to save the day. It was the perfect solution and it showed me how I could benefit from that situation. I wasn't a slut, I didn't enjoy being indecent like that, but she did. If I logged into the website just to talk to the boys, I bet it would turn on the two-dimensional girl and she'd do crazy things. She could lose herself in her perversions, because the blame would always be on me anyway. However, now the blame would come in the form of a bank transfer to my checking account.

The following day, I opened an account on my name. Still, I keep the same policy and I don't do those silly things. I only log in to talk about Jane Austen and Iranian female authors, until she takes over and does what she likes doing. We went back to being friends again and I've never been happier for having met her. I think the two-dimensional girl finally became an image of awareness.

RONALDO BRITO ROQUE was born in Cataguases, State of Minas Gerais, but has been living in Rio de Janeiro since 2003. 

He went to the Fluminense Federal University in Niterói, but didn't finish his degree. He used to work at Caixa Econômica Federal, a government-owned financial institution, but decided to quit his job to become a full-time translator and try his luck as a writer. 

He made his debut with Romance barato [Cheap Romance] published by Multifoco in 2010. The first edition sold out in only six weeks. He also published Duplo sentido [Double Meaning] through the Kindle Store, as an indie author. He's currently freelancing as a translator and writing his next novel.

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