The Unfamiliar Face in the Mirror

by Jeremy Bronaugh

You’re listening to music, folding clothes. You pile the clothes in a basket and carry them to your bedroom. As you’re putting the clothes away you see your reflection in the mirror and notice red, itchy blemishes spread across your entire face. You rush to the bathroom, wash your face, call your wife.

Your wife, she’s away for the weekend on business and can’t come home. She tells you to calm down, that you’re overreacting. She reminds you of the time you tried to cut off the taste buds on the back of your tongue because you thought they were cancerous tumors.

In the emergency room, the doctor tells you that, sure, maybe your skin seems dry, but it’s nothing to worry about.

At home, in the mirror, you notice the blemishes have dried out and are peeling off. You run the shower, full blast, as hot as it will go. In the shower you scrub your face with exfoliant and stand under the hot water crying until it turns tepid and then cold.

You towel off and large flakes of your skin collect in the shower drain.

After wiping the condensation away from the mirror, you see them. Perfect, ashen scales.

It takes a few hours before you start to recognize your new face as you walk by the mirror. Your wife, when you tell her about your lizard skin, says to wait until she comes home. When you don’t stop, she says this isn’t funny anymore.

In the morning, your hair has fallen out, leaving a barber shop floor on your pillow. You pull your pants off the floor but they don’t fit across your new lizard gut, so you walk naked to the bathroom where you see sunken, black eyes staring back at you from a horned lizard’s face. You wrap your talons around your toothbrush and scrub the tiny sharp rows of teeth you find. Then you lie back down in bed and pull your comforter over your jagged skin.

Your wife comes back, dragging her suitcase into the bedroom. When she sees you, she laughs and says that she knew you were being a hypochondriac.

You start to cry and beg her to acknowledge you have turned into a monster, that you woke up in lizard skin, but she just says, “You don’t seem any different to me.”

Jeremy Bronaugh is the Creative Director of Hypertrophic Press and the author of the novel When You Bleed to Death. He once accidentally cut his hand open with a samurai sword while looking for attention. Contact him @jeremy_bronaugh.
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